How much has leadership/cohesion changed?

Submitted by PeterKlima on August 23rd, 2010 at 5:47 PM

Almost every discussion of this year's team leaves out one important factor that may greatly change the fortunes of the team.  I am talking about the change in leadership and cohesion.  Comparing the 2009 OL to the 2010 OL or the 2009 DBs to the 2010 DBs is interesting and important, but it is  hardly a full analysis.


ASIDE from the change in the personnel in those units.... and ASIDE from the team understanding schemes/terminology better.... the difference in leadership should be mentioned in season previews.


I think Michigan had talent last year, but things fell apart after a couple tough losses.  There were some leaders on the team, but not enough to lead all the young guys and the train came off the tracks. 


We all know college football is an emotional game played by very young adults.  I think leadership and cohesion are a HUGE factor and the reason why there are so many upsets in recent years.  (Plus, look at teams like Iowa with 2-star players who can have great Ds.  Teams like Stanford who can beat USC.  5-star talent laden teams like ND with a widely-regarded failure as a motivator/leader (Weis) wasting huge talent.)


Heart is just as important as talent.


Here are the reasons to be excited about this team's leadership/cohesion:

1. Unwavering and repeated references to the outstanding commitment of the small group of seniors over the summer.

2. The seniors stepping up to RR and asking for permanent leaders (capitans) to be named this year.

3. Reports of Denard taking control of the offense.

4. Press favorite QB  and returning starter Tate accepting a humbling symbol everyday in front of his peers, and rising above it.

5. The hard work mention about the defense.  They seem motivated.

6. Purging of those not willing to give it their all (although that happens most years).

7. The team possibly finding motivation in the hard work done by Brock Mealer.


There is a difference in the tone of these comments from this year compared to the first 2 under RR.  It has not been his standard practice to repeatedly mention these things, but now he does so without prompting.  (Gone are the days of "well, we're not going to forfeit games.")  And, we did not see this level of leadership on the field last year.


The leadership and cohesion that seems to have developed on this team may be the biggest difference between being 6-6 (which a pure unit by unti analysis might predict) and 9-3.



August 23rd, 2010 at 6:12 PM ^

I think leadership and team cohesion can't be underestimated as powerful factors that help determine outcome variance. These are factors that do not come overnight with a coaching change, and they help explain why teams comprised of 2 and 3 stars (the WV's, Iowas, Wisconsins of the world) often put together winning teams that overachieve and defeat teams loaded with 4 and 5 star talent.

Now that we're in year 3, it seems clear that the players (who remain) are "all in" and I hope this helps us transform from a team playing beneath our talent level to a team that begins to play above it, as the great RR teams have done in the past.

Step 1: Build a culture based on leadership and cohesion. This may take 3 years and involve some difficult purging of non believers.

Step 2: Start winning some games (e.g., 7-5, 8-4)

Step 2: Once we start winning, we'll get more 4 and 5 star players.

Step 3: ?

Step 4: Profit, (i.e., world dominance)


August 23rd, 2010 at 6:08 PM ^

That if we we went back to exactly this time last year, we were saying very similar things, like how improved we will be and that Tate was going to be sick once the season starts, etc. It is good to be optimistic, but I am taking a different approach this year. I am actually anticipating that the defense will be even worse, since on paper, this should happen. Maybe if we start looking this way, we may be surprised?


August 23rd, 2010 at 7:36 PM ^

Yes, we were saying some of the same things and we were expecting improvement.  And Michigan won 1.67 times as many games as the year before with a freshman QB with a torn labrum, a concussion, and possible post-concussion syndrome the rest of the year.  A similar improvement this year will get them to 8 or 9 wins.

But there are a lot of things we weren't saying last year, too. 


August 23rd, 2010 at 6:09 PM ^

Leadership correlates directly to college football success like breathing and lung capacity correlate to running cross country.  Its been very encouraging this year to hear all the talk about leadership.  I'm in the Marines and I have seen directly the benifits of how far good leaders can take you, and how really devistating bad or no leadership can be.


August 23rd, 2010 at 6:24 PM ^

I think that's always how we cope when the tangible alone added together doesn't amount (on paper) to what we are hoping for.  Our faith in this program, university, current coaching staff and players that comprise this team make us understand that the additional intangible aspects are going to make the difference and allow for the "what's expected/hoped for."

I agree with the OP completely.  I would also like to add to the list of intangibles:

-Players, coaches and support staff who have been criticized and ridiculed far past the point of what is reasonable.  Vengeance is one of the most powerful motivators.

-Players, coaches and support staff who likely have been fearful of possible unwanted change in the event of a poor season.  Fear is also one of the most powerful motivators.


August 23rd, 2010 at 7:22 PM ^

We all know college football is an emotional game played by very young adults.

Very well said.  Kind of makes me mad for getting ticked off at the players when they do something stupid.  Easy to get so caught up in the game that you tend to forget that.


August 23rd, 2010 at 8:47 PM ^

I believe the leadership and cohesion is better this year. Lets not forget its the 2nd year in GERG's system, which in itself gives players extra confidence and the ability to play faster.  The offense speaks for itself.   I don't think there are a lot of defenses in the country that are going to be able to slow us down.  The seniors are a tight knit group, and everyone is always smiling and having fun.  I do believe our Wolverines will win 9 games this year.