Saturday, August 22, 2009

Michigan Football Tidbit: Regarding the recruiting topic

Michigan Football Tidbit: Regarding the recruiting topic

No doubt Coach Barwis has been a huge addition and contributor. But what some do not understand, or forget, is Michigan was considered the top strength and conditioning program for years under former Coach Gittleson.

It was just in the past five to seven years that Coach Carr surmised that college football was taking the "college experience" away from athletes, in part due to demands on time. A noble assumption, but one that is not followed by big time programs.

It was Carr, not Gittleson, who decided to tone down strength and conditioning, not emphasize spring practice, and not make summer workouts "mandatory.”

This is likely the major contributing factor in why Michigan’s player development has struggled. One could name tons of players with huge upsides, who either did not live up to their potential or did so only very late in their careers at Michigan.

In fact, there were some pro teams who purportedly stayed away from Michigan players. While others, like New England, a team with depth saw an opportunity to really develop some high potential athletes.

It is an argument, both philosophical and actual, which will continue on in high school and college sports. Maybe to some Coach Barwis goes too far. When Coach Rod discusses why and how Michigan players must love football, it is the philosophy of total commitment, not college lifestyle that becomes the guiding light. Players within the Michigan family, and virtually every other major program, must be willing to give up almost all potential free (student life) time. Practice, play, and study will take up the day. As Coach Rod states, this style is not for everyone, read everyone is not willing to pay the price, especially if no rewards are within sight (playing time). And so, you will continue to see defections.

Why is this important? The answer is this philosophical difference has translated into the biggest difference between the Coach Carr and Coach Rod programs. The by-product of this contrast in philosophies is perhaps the biggest "culture shock” Michigan fans have ever encountered.

And so, judging the above assumptions and conclusion to be true, here are a few suggestions:

1) Do not personally criticize any kid who leaves the program. Now if the kid takes shots at Coach Rod and Michigan, while leaving or after leaving, that is another matter. Former team members Evans and Helmuth simply decided that while they really loved Michigan they did not see the value of going through the program and not playing.

2) Expect continual defections. This is going to happen and some may be players who were top recruits coming in. You just never know with eighteen-year old kids how they are going to adjust from high school, where they were basically the "top dog" to the work and change entailed from entering a very demanding program.

We maintain that for incoming freshmen this environment is actually pretty exciting AND very beneficial. Coach Barwis is a very energetic, highly emotional guy, who can motivate any mainstream humanoid. But, as with anything new, time tarnishes the initial excitement.

The above phenomenon is not unique to the Michigan program, but is indeed engendered within similar programs. But Michigan is recruiting kids from all over the country and it is much easier for players at universities to hang around (in most cases) if they are local or have that extra family support.

3) Finally, we want to emphasize while all of us Michigan fans are really happy with this change, keep in mind, when you watch the games and choose to criticize a player, the amount of time and effort that kid is really putting in. We know winning is obviously important, but those of us who are around players daily know that such commitment can be a grind; physically, mentally, and also emotionally. Believe us ... It is not easy.

Thanks for stopping by Go Blue Michigan Wolverine
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Written by MaizeMan and ErocWolverine


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Really great article. I think many of us fans don't understand the level of commitment that is being asked of these 18 yr old kids and the reason why some of the attrition continue to occur...thanks!LB

Anonymous said...

If it was easy, EVERYBODY would be a national champion.

If you wanna dance, you gotta pay the band.

I got no problem with RR and Barwis wanting 100% commitment. Student-athletes ALWAYS manage to find some time to enjoy themselves. That's what usually gets them in trouble. So let's not think every minute is spent grinding away. But it IS a very big commitment and the players deserve respect for their efforts.

Anonymous said...

Your kidding, right? But what some do not understand, or forget, is Michigan was considered the top strength and conditioning program for years under former Coach Gittleson. Under him, they did not do squats or power cleans. So how could they have been the best if you do not do the basics.

Steven said...

On the differences between RR/Barwis and Carr/Gittleson.

I can't agree that the differences between in results of respective S&C programs are simply the energy level of the coaches, or the demands that RR puts on the players versus those of Carr(Does a few hours in the summer (per week) dedicated to S&C significantly detract from the "college experience" for players? Who'd you'd think would want to have the opportunity to improve while they aren't being pressured by academic demands. Especially if they want to say play in the NFL).

Decades ago the standard bearer for S&C in college football programs was not UM's but, Nebraska's. A wildly different approach from that at UM. An approach that Barwis and nearly all successful college football programs today are very familiar with. Olympic weight movements, plyometrics, primarily free-weight based, an emphasis on developing explosiveness and short sprints over traditional "two-three" mile runs for conditioning.

Certainly, circa. '78 when Gittleson took over as S&C coach at UM, there weren't a lot of full-time S&C coaches in college football. Professionalizing the UM S&C program was likely an early advantage over a number of other programs who generally pushed the S&C duties off on a position coach. But, the persistant myth that Gittleson was the first full-time S&C coach(Boyd Epley, at Nebraska was a full-time S&C football coach in the early 70's and he wasn't the first) and that Gittlson was the best S&C coach in the sport is not merited by the record. Gittleson, won a National S&C coach of the year award following the 97 MNC. Not surprisingly, S&C coaches who've won it tend to win this award following there team's winning a MNC(the name of Jim Herrmann seems to resonate here). Is that suggestive that he was the best CF S&C coach in America? Probably not. These awards tend to be career and "team" awards than endorsing one paticular approach or coach over another.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Gittleson has little reason to feel flattered. Gittleson, wasn't influencial in the sport(Epley, very much was/is). He merited little peer recognition. Most significantly his approach has largely been rejected by the vast majority of S&C coaching certifing organizations, practicing coaches in the field, and sports scientists both internationally(see Olympic training) and domestically. Not to mention by the currrent head S&C coach at UM.

So, this idea that somehow because Gittleson was at UM for many years and UM won a lot of games during that time span implies that he must be or has been "the best" or one of the best is faulty logic. Undoubtably, he was a professional S&C coach when there weren't a whole lot at the beginning, but, that hardly makes him a past or present great S&C coach.

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