Should we believe the hype?

Submitted by SFBayAreaBlue on July 16th, 2008 at 3:21 PM

I'm going to stop screaming like a little girl about mike barwis for a moment and play devil's advocate. My personal opinion is that he's a godsend and exactly what our program needs to break through to the next level. But I was reading some comments on the ESPN articles and realized that every story has two sides. So let's take a closer look at why we think he's so great and why fans of other teams might not agree.

Ryan m'fckn Mundy

  • What we think: If Barwis can change this guy from someone we were practically shoving out the door into an NFL draft pick, just imagine what he can do with players that don't inherently suck!!
  • What skeptics might say: Mundy wasn't really that bad before. He sucked because of bad coaching.
  • Upon Closer Inspection: In 2006 he had a whopping 25 tackles, 1 int, and 1 sack. I can't even find his name for 2005. (In other words; Antonio Bass had one more tackle than him in that year) In 2004 he's credited with 51 tackles, 2 int, and 1 pass breakup. And he got 10 tackles in 2003. After one offseason of training with Barwis he had 62 tackles, 3 int, and 3 fumble recoveries. His sophomore year showed some promise, but the complete regression during 2006 might lend some weight to the bad coaching theory

Gittleson was ancient

  • What we think: If your S&C program was designed in the 1970's and only two programs still use it, and the other one is grandpa paterno at penn state, then you are behind the times. Barwis is bringing a modern, cutting edge program, so we're no longer going to be decades behind the rest of the country, we're going to be decades ahead.
  • What skeptics might say: One S&C program is just as good as any other. What really matters is how much effort the players put forth
  • Upon Closer Inspection: Michigan has had several players taken in the first round of the NFL draft, including Jake Long who was #1 overall this year. But there are quotes floating around the internets (citation needed) about how Michigan players getting ready for the combine were in for a world of hurt because of the backwards training they were used to. Nothing speaks louder than results, and if its true that Brandon graham was only doing 315 but is now maxing out at 475, well brian said it best. EEEEEEEE!!!!

Ninja Offense Scoring

  • What we think: Better conditioned players means more scoring!!!
  • What skeptics might say: WVU only scored that much because they didn't play anyone once Miami, Vatech, and BC left the big east
  • Upon Closer Inspection: I looked at the WVU scores for the past 5 years (since Barwis took over their S&C program) and found that the offense improved its per game scoring every year. In 2003 they scored 28.5 pts/game, 2004 was 30.0, 2005 was 32.1, 2006 was 38.8, and last year was 39.6. This is a good trend. It's true that WVU struggled offensively in the few games it played against the three teams that went to the ACC, averaging just 21.6 points against them. The one year WVU played all three was 2003 when they scored 20, 28, and 35 points against miami, vatech, and bc respectively. In bowl games, WVU scored just 7 and 18 points while getting clobbered by maryland and FSU, but exploded with 38, 38, and 48 points against much higher ranked Georgia, GaTech, and Okla in BCS bowls. Again, this a good trend.

Speed Kills!

  • What we think: Barwis will make the players faster! Rich Rod's offense works because of the high tempo and speed of the players.
  • What skeptics might say: You can't coach speed. Player's are either fast or they're not. We've recruited players who were designed to be in a slow plodding offense. No amount of running will change that. If you don't have Pat White and Steve Slaton you're screwed.
  • Upon Closer Inspection: While it's true that genetics set the baseline for your speed, proper training can help you achieve maximum potential. You can't make a 5.4 guy into a 4.5 guy. But there is plenty of evidence to show that one or two tenths of a second improvement can be made. Especially for linemen who have not been pressured to run as much before. Many of the players we have recruited at the skill positions are already fast enough to run the spread but the incoming freshmen class and next years commits are even faster to begin with.

WVU winning BCS games

  • What we think: This shows that RichRod/Barwis can compete with and beat the best.
  • What skeptics might say: Those opponents in the BCS games were overrated and the scores were close. USC, Florida, and LSU would have killed them
  • Upon closer inspection: Who can say. We couldn't beat USC either. But WVU beating the SEC champ, the ACC runner up, and the Big12 champ in successive years is still pretty darn impressive no matter what the score.

We lost games because we sucked in the 4th quarter

  • What we think: Our crappy conditioning caused us to lose games in the 4th quarter. That won't happen with Mike Barwis on the job!!
  • What skeptics might say: We weren't that bad in the 4th quarter before; in fact we had several comebacks, like 28 pts against Minnesota and triple OT vs. MSU. So even if we lost a few in the 4th, it all evens out, and there won't be much difference now.
  • Upon closer inspection: In the last 5 years Michigan has lost 17 of 62 games, WVU lost 14 of 63, 9 of which were during Barwis's first 2 years as head of the S&C. In the 2nd half, Michigan was outscored 20 times, 8 of which resulted in losses after leading or being tied at the half. For WVU the numbers are 17 times, of which only 4 resulted in losing the lead (the others were games in which WVU was ahead by alot or already behind). But if you look at just the 4th quarter, the numbers become more interesting. Michigan was outscored in the 4th quarter 19 freaking times. 6 of those were 4th quarter collapses where we lost the lead, and 4 of them were double digit 4th quarter leads. These all happened in 2004 and 2005. (2005 only had 5 games where we weren't outscored in the 4th quarter or 2nd half, so it truly earned the name 'season of unending pain'). WVU was outscored in the 4th 21 times, BUT ONLY 1 RESULTED IN A LOST LEAD. One! One freaking game did they lose in the 4th quarter. It was Barwis's first game as head of S&C, against wisconsin of all teams. So when Mike Barwis says we're not going to lose games in the 4th quarter, he means it. Conversely, WVU only won 7 games in the 2nd half, 2 of those in the 4th. Michigan won 7 games in the 2nd half, but 9 in the 4th. I think this has more to do with coaching. LLoyd would sit on a lead, lose the third quarter and then open up a bit to win in the end. Whereas with RR he doesn't hold back. He's either going to beat you and put you away in the first half, or just trail for the entire game.

And lastly, Fire and Brimstone

  • What we think: Mike Barwis is super energetic! His passion is contagious! It's his way or the highway! If he followed me around at work, I'd become CEO in no time!!!
  • What skeptics might say: He's full of hot air. All S&C guys sound like that. He just uses meaningless jargon and doesn't really know what he's talking about. Anyone can swear up a storm, that doesn't make you a good motivator.
  • Upon closer inspection: Having only seen and heard a few scattered interviews and not having had the pleasure (hell) of a workout with him, I can't really say. The energetic part is on display in every one of his videos and can't be disputed. Whether or not it is effective is probably best seen in how the people he works with respond to it. But the quotes from people who have met him are all pointing towards legitimate charisma. Even the recruits continually mention positive things about him after only short introductions and demonstrations. Having a young energetic guy around, who attracts NFL alumni back to campus can only be a good thing for recruiting.
Conclusion: Mike Barwis. All your recruits are belong to him. Mike Barwis. Perhaps doing this research has tempered my enthusiasm for this coming season, but it looks like the program is headed on an upward track. Mike Barwis is the real deal. Maybe not a miracle worker, but he's exactly what we needed to move our program into the 21st century.

*ps. if you're interested in the data I used you can get it from and or you can email me at BlueSeoul at and I'll email you the spreadsheet since I don't know how to upload it to the diary.



July 16th, 2008 at 3:36 PM ^

It's good to see the numbers, but we have to remember there are a lot of factors going into fourth quarter performance. Love the piece and I didn't look at all the numbers you did, but I'm still of the opinion that Barwis will turn our already great athletes into eeeeeeeeeelite players (though I understand it wasn't your goal to change my mind).


July 16th, 2008 at 4:00 PM ^

I had the pleasure of working out with Barwis for 2 hours when Rodriguez held open tryouts in February. Most of us were in decent shape, but obviously nowhere near playing condition. A few of the players were on the sidelines laughing at us, saying how their 6am workout was 100 times worse. The constant screaming, the intensity, its definitely not a show, hes for real.


July 16th, 2008 at 4:29 PM ^

Regarding Ryan Mundy. I too heard the press about how much better Mundy had gotten. Now I didn’t watch every single WVU game but I did see the bowl game. As I remember many of the plays Mundy was ‘involved’ in were really good ones for Oklahoma—personal fouls, nearest guy in coverage—that kind of thing. At one point an OSU buddy texted me to mention how badly Mundy, a Michigan guy, was playing. I would also suggest taking being drafted with a grain of salt. Chinedum Ndukwe, one of ND’s horrible, horrible DB’s was drafted one round later (in a different draft.) I have no idea why. Safety has been a great concern at Michigan for a while (zip the Ernest Shazor talk, I have no idea why he won the Thorpe award) and I suspect the coaching played a great part in that. This bit, “WVU was outscored in the 4th 21 times, BUT ONLY 1 RESULTED IN A LOST LEAD… …Conversely, WVU only won 7 games in the 2nd half, 2 of those in the 4th. Michigan won 7 games in the 2nd half, but 9 in the 4th. I think this has more to do with coaching. LLoyd would sit on a lead, lose the third quarter and then open up a bit to win in the end. Whereas with RR he doesn't hold back. He's either going to beat you and put you away in the first half, or just trail for the entire game.” I’d have to look at the individual games to know but I might look at this stat differently. Relative strength of schedule aside, one might view some of those 4th quarter wins by Michigan as games a WVU style would have put away earlier. The lack of lost 4th quarter leads bears this idea out. Some of this comes down to being able to run and grind the 4th quarter away. WVU could do it and Michigan could not. The other side of the coin is if you can’t pass because your QB is Pat White coming back late will be hard. I hope RR’s teams at Michigan will be able to do both.

Dan Man

July 16th, 2008 at 5:30 PM ^

As you can tell from my profile, I'm drinking the Barwis coolaid (sp?). But I know that when there's this much hype about anything, it's always overblown. Barwis isn't going to change things drastically overnight, but without a doubt he's a step up from Gittleson and will improve our program - which might be all we need to get back into national title contention (once we have a QB).


July 16th, 2008 at 9:05 PM ^

I have stated this before, but I am of the mind that there are many ways to go about S&C, and if there were one, best way everyone would do it. It can also be "state of the art" or old and outmoded. Some of the science is legit, but there is a lot of pseudoscience spouted by some of these "gurus". However, it is difficult to argue that a team that places great emphasis on an intense S&C program won't outperform a team that allows overweight players to put forth a half-assed effort in training. I can't speak to the old regime, but I have my impressions. Certainly, Barwis brings great intensity and the program is one of great emphasis by RR. This can't hurt--4th quarter or otherwise.

The Barking Sp…

July 16th, 2008 at 9:21 PM ^

Nope. It doesn't. Speed coaching doesn't work either. Guys just show up at the Olympics and win the 100 meters because they felt like running faster that day. There are probably little differences from program to program in athletic talent at the elite level. The coaching doesn't maximize guys, it makes them better than they can be, by taking the ones with the better talent and getting more and more out of them. You gotta believe in what Barwis is doing. The results will tell the story. They did at WVU. My feeling is that it's all relative: you win or you are better than those at YOUR level. WVU did that under RR. Then they went out in the last three bowl games and beat those guys as well. So they lost to Pitt. Fuckin' LSU lost to kentucky and Arkysaw, and very well could have (should have?) lost two to three more, but gambles paid off. Illinois pooped on OSU. The hype will be worth it, but of course, RR has to get some talent to work with. Their player development speask for itself.