Team Cohesiveness - Detroit News

Submitted by Everyone Murders on July 30th, 2014 at 8:38 AM

Angelique Chengelis posted a very interesting ARTICLE this morning from the Big Ten Media function in Chicago.  The article is interesting in its own right, but the subtext caught my attention even more. 

The article focuses on how team leaders have used off-field functions to build team chemistry.  That sounds like a great idea, and it also underscores how players like Gardner who have occasionally been derided as insufficient leaders are leading in their own way.

The really interesting thing to me, though, was the implications in the article as to team chemistry last year.  Frank Clark's quote struck me:

Strength coach Aaron Wellman has been integral in helping the players bond, Clark said, making a point to encourage offensive and defensive players, and black and white players, hang out together at team dinners or as they arrive or leave strength training sessions.
“Coach Wellman says, ‘Let’s make Oreos, baby,’” Clark said, laughing. “You’re sitting there and you walk out, it’s not about a black or white thing at the end of the day.”

Chengelis notes that this is not an indictment of last year's team, but more of a positive step forward.  That may be her being a bit gracious, though, since you would hope coaches and assistants (and upperclassmen) would notice any offense/defense or black/white cliquing behavior and work to address it as a matter of course.  As Clark put it "(w)hen you go 7-6 -- when you lose that many games two years in a row, you start to sit down and think like something’s gotta change around here”.  Indeed.

I applaud Clark for being forthright on this, and Wellman for addressing this, but I was a bit disappointed that cliques (and cliques based on race) were an issue last year.  For all of that, it sounds as though Wellman is doing a great job of going beyond simply conditioning and strength training, and working on team building.  He may lack Barwis's growl (most of us do), but he seems to be doing a fine job for the team and strikes me as an undervalued asset of the program.


turd ferguson

July 30th, 2014 at 9:42 AM ^

Wait, are you kidding?  My sarcasm radar is bad.

If not, you went from "I have trouble seeing this resulting in a heated [political] discussion" to starting a potentially heated political discussion in just two posts.


July 30th, 2014 at 9:53 AM ^

I think the two of you have tried to "out-sarcasm" the other, in the name of humor, and it's turned into a misunderstanding.  I think we all see the value in your jokes and the discussion can stop here.  Virtual hand shake commence.

Everyone Murders

July 30th, 2014 at 8:51 AM ^

I don't fault you for your observation, but I hope the board is above that.  I live in a city that has a big racial mix, and by high school you see a lot of kids clustering together by self-defined lines - some benign, and some not.  For instance, you'll see debate kids sitting together at lunch or during breaks, and it's (in my eyes) benign.  But you'll also see lunch tables that are entirely one race or another, and I think it's great that Clark and Wellman are doing what they can to break down that sort of self-defined line.

Besides, hasn't everyone already seen Remember the Titans?  All we really need is a musically-gifted offensive lineman to sing some R&B, and it's all good.

But seriously, let's try to keep this apolitical and keep popcorn sales to a minimum.


July 30th, 2014 at 8:44 AM ^

heard that before, and if I had to venture a guess, it had more to do with the Rodriguez/Hoke caserole of players just not being on the same page.  They were recruited to two different programs with different expectations.  I think the lack of a unified understanding of their roles in the program and where the program was headed resulted in, not really animosity, but just a lack of cohesiveness that resulted in people falling in with the people they were most comfortable with and that may have been down racial lines.


July 30th, 2014 at 8:47 AM ^



I know many like to point to Lewan when this is brought up, however this sounds like it was much more pervasive than one player.

One thing that bothered me last year was that you always heard about Gardner and Gallon practicing together endlessly to develop chemistry. On appearances that sounded great, however I always wondered why it was just the two of them. I read somewhere that Gardner is including all receivers in this in 2014. I think that says a lot.

I love Gallon. Don't get me wrong, but some players may look at it as a "me first" attitude vs working as a team. If no one talks about what upsets them, things can fester and become toxic.

I'm happy to see the whole team seems to be bonding this year. I think it will make a big difference.


July 30th, 2014 at 9:03 AM ^

I'm saying the other players may not have felt welcome. That may be their fault because both of those players seem very friendly. Maybe it was that those other players needed to be pushed to participate. Whatever the reason, only two players were there.

The point was more that these two were upperclassmen and maybe needed to push the others to participate. It may be something they weren't comfortable with.


July 30th, 2014 at 8:56 AM ^

I agree with your point about Lewan. Clearly he was an issue but it was also clear there was a bigger issue than that.

The comments that were made at the end of the year were by Clark (a defensive player) and lets not forget that the defense fell apart the last two games (OSU and KSU). Everyone assumes any comments about cohesiveness had to do with Lewan but its possible that there were issues defensively related to this. Remember there were seniors on defense that were suspended for a game with no specific reason given or inexplicably hardly played in certain games so there may have problems on that side of the ball also.

Maize and Blue…

July 30th, 2014 at 1:12 PM ^

when neither of them were seeing the field and the two of them had been together the longest.  Do you think Funchess and Darboh thought of DG as a QB when he was in the WR group with them during practices their first year on campus?  

What makes you assume Gallon had a "me first" attitude because you certainly make it feel that way.

Space Coyote

July 30th, 2014 at 9:17 AM ^

Things aren't necesarrily PC in the weight room. It's not that things just get completely out of hand, but saying something like "make Oreos", which on the outside people cringe at, will mean it's own thing inside the weight room/locker room specific to this team, even when outside of that people may still cringe at it.


July 30th, 2014 at 11:04 AM ^

I first heard the term in the late '60s or early '70s, a time when there was less mixing of different ethnic/racial groups than there is today.

There are so many more bi-racial/bi-ethnic kids these days (my daughter being one of them) that making derogatory comments about their racial or ethnic identity just doesn't resonate with as many people as it did back then.


July 30th, 2014 at 10:50 AM ^

As an Asian American, I really don't understand the Black-White dichotomy sometimes and this hyper-sensitivity to see racism or racist undertones where there is none. We focus so much sometimes on words instead of the intent behind them. The message and intent here couldn't be farther from whatever historical connotations the word might have had. I mean, Wellman is literally advocating for people to move beyond race and we're cringing about the specific word he used.