Interesting Convo about Rodriguez and Michigan Football

Submitted by willywill9 on June 18th, 2010 at 1:23 AM

First, let me start off by saying: I hate to be 'that guy' who shares a "I ran into a someone in the know…", because this really isn't scoop or necessarily is new information; but, I'll share this story anyway because I think it was interesting enough. (Hey, at least it beats an expansion thread.)

As I was waiting to board my flight to Atlanta tonight, I was wearing my 'Strike a Pose' t-shirt (shameless MGoPlug) and my Adidas Michigan hat.  My outfit must have really stood out because I was approached by two gentlemen on two separate occasions.  (The first guy was from Columbus... Blah blah, you know how that conversation went "When are you going to get good again to make the rivalry meaningful… blah, blah."  I then diffused the situation by discussing Nebraska.)

The second guy, was much more interesting (aka not from Columbus.)  He approached me shortly after the Columbus guy, then looked me in the eyes and said, in a fairly stern tone, "You guys ought to hold onto Coach Rodriguez.  He's the best coach in the country, bar none.  Stick by him and you'll be winning a big ten championship every other year."  I was caught completely off guard.  I expect most people to either ask me first about what my opinion of RR is or they just flat out open up with something negative about Rich Rodriguez.  (I wear a lot of Michigan attire, so I get into these conversations with random people all the time.)

After talking to him a bit, I found out he played football at WVU (Bobby Bowden's last year at WVU.)  He had met Rich Rodriguez when Rodriguez was coach at WVU.  Apparently they're good enough friends that he came to a couple of games at the Big House (the ND game this past year, in particular.)  When we talked about the ND game, he pulled up some photos on his phone of him, RR, Rita, and Tony Gibson.

We talked a little bit about the hack job the Freep pulled on Rodriguez and how a few disgruntled players/people within or close to the program led to this jihad.  According to the guy, he seemed to feel there were/are definitely dissenters from within the program who haven't liked Rich Rodriguez since day one and are looking to drive him out.  Not only are they not helping the program, but they're holding it back.  But, as we all say, the wins will quiet the doubters.

He kept emphasizing how great Rich Rodriguez was at taking raw, undeveloped talent, and churning out NFL athletes.  He sees the same happening at Michigan… only the type of talent RR has to work with is leaps and bounds better than he had at WVU.

He made one interesting comment that had me thinking.  We started talking about the whole "lack of talent" on defense when RR first came to Michigan.  Not only did he say we were short on depth (obvious), he also said that the players just weren't even in any shape ready to play football.  He said even a guy as phenomenal as BG would have struggled to compete for playing time at WVU, because he simply wasn't in the right shape.  I'm not sure how true that point is, but I still found it interesting nonetheless.  The best comment he made on this front was to point out that if guys are leaving because they can't handle the workouts (ahem*Boren*ahem)… that could actually be viewed as a good sign.  1) Someone with less work ethic is no longer a distraction and 2) It shows you're effective at strengthening a previous weakness.

His feelings on the season weren't too reassuring, but not bad either.  He thinks Michigan will win 7 maybe 8, starting off similar to last year but finishing somewhat stronger.  He's also a huge fan of our AD.

He said he still keeps in touch with RR and even spoke to him as recently as a couple of weeks ago, I told him that I hope RR knows there is a large number of Michigan fans who support him, and want him to succeed at Michigan.  He appreciated that.  We shook hands and said our Go Blues.

Take from this what you want, I just figured I'd share since it was a rather interesting conversation I had with someone who was a friend of Coach Rodriguez himself.  He's the second (technically 3rd if you count a swimmer) WVU athlete I've met, and all sing RR's praises.



June 18th, 2010 at 2:00 AM ^

its amazing how much former players that actually buy in to the system al la BG love RR. I wish everyone else could see it this way


Edit: Sounds like he wasn't technically a former player for RR but its great to see people players that respect how Rich Rod does things


June 18th, 2010 at 2:01 AM ^

He said BG would've struggled to compete for playing time?  Is this merely because the type of fitness RR wants is drastically different than other types (I wouldnt imagine too different)?  Or is it simply more evidence of the "country club" Lloyd was running? 

Interesting indeed.  I like hearing stuff like this, so thanks for sharing.


June 18th, 2010 at 2:11 AM ^

More like the latter.  Essentially, he was saying when RR first arrived, no player was in the shape RR wanted them to be in.  The BG comment was meant to highlight that at the onset, someone even as talented as BG wasn't physically prepared.

He also alluded to the fact that Lloyd is NOT a supporter of RR, at all.


June 18th, 2010 at 4:48 AM ^

True, pre-RR BG didn't look as mobile and strong as after Barwis got a hold of him.  I'll give you that he was an underclassmen at the time, but he came in as a LB recruit and got seriously big under Gittleson.  Barwis did a lot in making BG the beast he is.  Year 3 with RR's recruits and Barwis' S&C program will hopefully show it IS a winning combo.


June 21st, 2010 at 3:06 PM ^

but I do think it is clear that BG bought into the conditioning regimen wholeheartedly and after 2 years in the previous program was on a completely different level after 2 years in the new program. His stats and performance bear that out, with further evidence being his draft position.

Lloyd did not run a 'country club', each coaching regime has it's own philosophy and emphasize different things, let's just leave it at that.


June 18th, 2010 at 3:11 AM ^

Nice work man. I did hear it takes about 2 yrs to get into the right shape for our program under Barwis.

But, you're rightabout Raw Talent into NFL talent. Pacman Jones(2star), Steve Slayton(3star), Pat white(3star), Chris Henry (2star), even though RR didn't recruit him, he developed him. RIP ..andmany others.

J. Lichty

June 18th, 2010 at 3:33 AM ^

are not helping himself.

As an example, according to a friend who has attended, two years in a row RR spoke at the Chicago M club "Sports O Rama."  While the general tenor was that the guysattending were not huge fans of RR in year one, in year 2 he apparently gave the same exact speech to the same group of people.

These people pay good money to attend the event and they were treated to the same stump speech two years in a row.  Not good.

He lost several people who were at worst, neutral regarding him when that happened.

Now, he is never going to play as high brow as Lloyd could do with this crowd, but he needs to at least keep track of what speeches he gives and to whom he gives them.


June 18th, 2010 at 6:57 AM ^

There is no substitute for victories at this point, which is as it should be. If RR is as good a coach as this WVU alum says he is, then he will get the 2010 team to a winning record. The only justifiable reason in my mind for a losing season would be injuries to key people at key positions.

Enjoyed the recounting of the convo, btw.

One thing I'd like Brian or some media figure covering Michigan football to do is interview Don Nehlen for his analysis of things. His status as a former assistant under Bo and winningest WVU coach who hired RR is unique.


June 18th, 2010 at 6:54 AM ^

I support RR. But there have been very few moments where I've said to myself, "wow, this guy can coach." That changes this year. I hope. Please God.


June 18th, 2010 at 7:12 AM ^

Especially on defense.

Given the large improvement offensively last year over '08, and the experience of guys coming back on that side of the ball, there's good reason to be confident the offense will be OK. We have to be vastly better on D if we're going to do much better than 6-6. GERG has to get it done somehow, someway with a lot of very green talent and very little upperclass depth.


June 18th, 2010 at 9:16 AM ^

"We have to be vastly better on D if we're going to do much better than 6-6."

I'm not so sure I agree with that.  Turnovers lost the Iowa, Purdue, and OSU games for us last year.  If we would have won those, that's 8 wins.  If our offense improves the way I (and I think everyone else) expects it to, we should be able to win 8  or more (by that oversimplified rationale) assuming our D plays AS GOOD as they did last year, not better.


June 18th, 2010 at 7:17 AM ^

great divide among Michigan fans. This guy, if he is what he says he is, is friendly with RR. What would you expect him to say? The lack of talent agrument (valid or not) hasn't explained the losses to so many teams with inferior talent. So now it is the conditioning. I don't believe that for a second. There is certainly a difference in strength and conditioning philosophies, but if you ask BG, he won't say the conditioning program pre RR was bad - just different. It is amazing Michigan has put anyone in the NFL pre 2008. I am amazed so many NFL teams, with their limited rosters, took a chance on so many reclamation projects.

So he says LLoyd is not a fan of RR. How does he know that? Has he heard that from LLoyd? Probably not. So he is either making it up, or he heard it from RR. If RR is spreading that stuff, what does that tell you about RR's motivations? And if it is true, what has RR ever done to embrace Carr, and what he did for the program? I know that publcily supporting Carr is not popular these days. But Carr has publicily supported RR on at least two occasions. I have never heard RR say anything good about Carr and his program. And you can hate Carr all you want, but his record speaks for itself, including one national championship (the only one in fifty years), and being 3 points away from another championship game (and actually still should have been in that championship game) toward the END of his career.

People have said that Bo would have chastised Carr for not coming to RR's defense (which, actually, he has done.) Those people don't know Bo. Bo addressed this precise scenario in the last chapter of Bacon's book, "Bo's Lasting Lessons". For those of you who cite Bo to support  "blame Carr" for the lack of support within the athletic department argument, you lack an understanding of who Bo was. Bo would not have stood by and said nothing about what is going on in the athletic department, but he most assuredly woould not be blaming Carr. Anyone who knows Bo knows that loyalty was more important than anything else. And he would tell you that to get loyalty, you have to give it.

Bacon's book is worth the time and money to read. Even if you think Bo was full it. He was a wonderful teacher. And one thing I believe - the game did not pass him by. Any coach who embraces his philosophy will win. Maybe that's why Harbaugh, and amost all of Bo's assistant coaches, have been successful. (Understand that I did not say that Harbaugh should replace RR.)

For the record, this is not an anti RR post. I liked Carr. I like RR. I want RR to win. But I think that the single most important factor causing RR's "support" problems lies in RR's failure to simply acknowledge the contributions of the past, rather than blaming the past for the problems his has today. Hell, he doesn't even have to believe that anyone before him knew what they were doing. He just needed to walk down the hall, and talk. And let the press believe that he valued the past.

Maize and Blue…

June 18th, 2010 at 7:38 AM ^

All you have to do is look at the NFL draft the last two years and the number of upperclassmen playing to see that something was inherently wrong LC's last couple of years.  Perhaps he couldn't get some kids to commit because he had so many long term starters coming back.  The secondary mess is definitely on a deep lack of attention LC's last couple of classes.  DW does not make a secondary by himself yet recruiting left little else.  As a whole the depth chart is full of underclassman with hardly any of the upperclassman LC recruited.

As for BG, there is no way he would have been the 13th pick if not for RR and Barwis coming.  He would have never been considered a 3-4 OLB prospect as he was 20+ pounds heavier.  BG knows what the change in coaches did for him and constantly praises RR and staff.

This isn't meant as a knock on LC because I will be forever grateful for the NC won in 97, but a realistic look at how things were when RR got here.  I know that maybe Boren and Arrington would have stayed if LC came back, but they wouldn't have made much of a difference.


June 18th, 2010 at 7:44 AM ^

As for BG, there is no way he would have been the 13th pick if not for RR and Barwis coming.  He would have never been considered a 3-4 OLB prospect as he was 20+ pounds heavier.  BG knows what the change in coaches did for him and constantly praises RR and staff.

This is pure speculation.  Graham had 8.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles as a sophomore while Carr was here.  You can't say for certain that he wouldn't have been the #13 (or higher) pick, and the Eagles didn't draft him to play OLB - they drafted him to play DE.  So that "OLB prospect" part is somewhat irrelevant.


June 18th, 2010 at 11:52 AM ^

I'd prefer if you point out my "pure speculation" that I pass off as Final Word Gospel, rather than commenting on a post where I don't speculate at all.

And anyway . . . yeah, you're right.  I've never been negbanged in my life.  I think Brian gave my account a shot of Negbang Immunization when I signed up.  That's why I always end up with positive vote totals.


June 18th, 2010 at 7:39 AM ^

If this guy is friendly with Rodriguez, don't you think Rodriguez might have said at some point, "Coach Carr did ________________" or "Coach Carr said ______________"?

Also, Rodriguez did acknowledge Carr when he first got on the job.  Since it's now 2.5 years later, I don't think it's necessary to mention the previous coach.  Especially if he thinks that Carr is undermining him.

As full of BS as the random guy in the airport is, you might be just as full.  But apparently you're still in love with Bo Schembechler after he's been gone for 20+ years, so I'm taking your Schembechler Lovefest with a grain of salt.


June 18th, 2010 at 8:12 AM ^

...Lloyd did this, or that...don't you think SOMEONE would have told someone in the media by now? It's always Lloyd did something...but no one is ever able to say what.

And if he's still in love with Bo...well, you are too, you just apparently don't know it. Because this Blog you've spent so much time on doesn't exist without Bo. He was the reason Michigan Football is relevant enough for people to care this much.


June 18th, 2010 at 8:30 AM ^

This guy had photos of himself with Michigan Coaches, players, personnel, in our facilities.  I don't think RR necessarily had to say anything.  I think we're paying too much attention to his thoughts on Lloyd Carr.  I dont' think RR necessarily complained to this guy, I think this guy noticed it.

The only thing he specifically stated those people from within (boosters and others) who have a problem with RR, had this problem before he even coached a single snap.  These guys also happen to be strong supporters of Lloyd.  He also could be going off what others around RR (not RR himself) feel is the case.  The bottom line is, Lloyd hasn't been very proactive or ready to be behind RR.  That part is fairly obvious.


June 18th, 2010 at 8:46 AM ^

...between people who supported Lloyd not being fans of Rich Rod...and saying Lloyd hasn't supported Rich? Kinda a big distinction there.

The thing is, as Magnus said...Rich doesn't need to be praising Lloyd 2.5 years after he's done coaching. But likewise, it's time we all stopped blaming him for everything too then. It's Rich's program now. Other people have taken over worse teams and turned them around. I think Rich can too. And if he can't, it's going to have a lot less to do with what Lloyd did or didn't do than what Rich is doing.

I don't even doubt that Lloyd and Rich probably aren't that chummy. But beyond the opening statement, Rich hasn't been "all that behind" Lloyd. I don't want to get into a full listing and statements and dates, because that's a full argument I'm done with, because it's in the past, but from canning all the staff (which is his right), to the "not when I got here" stuff about not being good, to the finger pointing (which some see as honest...but I'm sure Lloyd sees as padding the buck, as a guy who wanted the media to blame him, and not his players, coaches or staff...even if behind the scenes he felt and acted differently).

So they're not buddies, I would guess. But they don't really have to be. Because Lloyd isn't going to get Rich fired, or get him a contract extension. Rich is going to do that, by winning or losing.


June 18th, 2010 at 8:54 AM ^

You're absolutely right.  There is a huge difference between Lloyd supporters who don't like RR and Lloyd not supporting RR.  I don't think there is some conspiracy where LC is trying to ruin RR's career.  Does he like RR?  I don't think it matters. 

You're 100% right, Rich is going to determine his fate.  The point of my post was to give guys a little reassurance that Rich Rodriguez is indeed well respected within the college football community (still) and a reason to hope for a solid season next year.


June 18th, 2010 at 8:50 AM ^

Well, if Rodriguez is only telling that to his friends (and it's unclear whether THIS guy is a close friend or not), then no, I wouldn't expect someone to run to the media.

It's not that I don't love Bo or that I think he's a P.O.S. or anything.  But I also don't quite understand the lovefest for Bo (who, according to people on this blog, never did anything wrong) contrasted with the hatred for Lloyd Carr (who won a national championship, unlike Bo).


June 18th, 2010 at 9:01 AM ^

But since the post you were responding to was supportive of both (and Rich, too, actually), it didn't make a lot of sense in context.

And the way every single thing seems to be leaked by SOMEBODY, I would guess such info would be hard to keep a lid on. (I mean if you're telling some guy you don't know in an airport, how close to the vest are you keeping it?).


June 18th, 2010 at 10:35 AM ^


so much because of who he was as a person, leader and motivator.  They loved his attitude and his passion for UofM.  He was a winner, even though he never one the "big one".  He was fiery.  And he never had any significant personal PR "Issues", while he was in charge.

Along comes Lloyd.  Who was more laid back and calm.  He was a "Bo man" though and had some "Bo" moments (blowing off sideline reporters, stonewalling people during press conferences, etc.) and he won a N.C., so folks liked him for these reasons.  Like Bo, he never had any big PR issues, himself.

Along comes the new guy, RR.  Not tied to #1 or #2 above.  If it has all been his fault or not, he has been a whirlwind of PR "issues", even before he set foot on campus.  He doesn't act like #1 or #2 above, and to top is all off, he is losing.......badly.....

But, times are different now.  With social networking, Tweeting, emailing, texting, etc. Kids today are more independent and are use to more open, back and forth communication..  "See, Rivals, Scout, H.S. player press conferences, etc...." for more details.  You didn't have any of this stuff, even 10 years ago....The military model for management that Bo used doesn't work very well anymore on the newer generation (I tell you what to do, you do it right now and you do not question my authority).  Hell, this is even true in the business world now a days.....

I think RR strength as a coach/leader is that he understands what the recruits want now (his "audience") and manages the players in a more "touchy / feely" way.  He will work the guys hard, but the major requirement for these kids is that the process, has to be "fun".  Kids what to understand the "why's" of doing something and be invested in the process.

The reason a majority of our alumni dislike RR is because they grew up loving (and still do) Bo and still want that "fiery" attitude guy as their program icon / head coach.  On Saturdays, they want to live in the past and don't want to face and / or accept the changing times.  They hate the distractions surrounding the program, because there have never been any before the "new" guy showed up.  They take the distraction and the losing and use that to build the case for bringing in the guys who can "fix" the problems they have with the current setup.  They complain about the Spread offense..... blah........the 3-3-5 defense....that is for the weak.....questionable recruits.....never.    And who will come to save the day, Jim H and Les M. of course, two Bo protégés.  They will restore the program to it's rightful place, living and operating in the past.....

How does RR convince a majority of people to embrace change, who want to live in the past?  I knew winning this year was important.  But now after writing this, I think the 2010 teams performance, may be a defining year for our program, for years to come.....


June 18th, 2010 at 8:23 AM ^

You beat me to it.  Essentially, you tell people what's going on in your life, that's pretty natural.  RR probably wasn't badmouthing LC, he simply was talking to a friend.  Also, RR did say some kind words about LC when he first joined Michigan.

There is a rift among Michigan fanbase, but at the same time, these people who are anti-RR never gave him a chance.  Quite frankly, that's extremely irritating.

And for the record, I love Lloyd Carr and was about to quickly defend him.  But, I also love my mom and not even she's perfect.  Besides, it's his opinion/sentiment.  Maybe LC hasn't really undermined RR.

The BG comment was pure speculation; I quickly doubted the comment, but even if it's an exaggeration, I think it still speaks to a lot of what we've heard in the past about strength and conditioning.