Rays of Light: U-M Missing Mentality

Former Michigan standout and Big Ten Network analyst Marcus Ray shares his thoughts on Larry Foote's strong comments about the hunger he believes is missing in the Michigan football program, Frank Clark's dismissal, and much much more.

Former Michigan standout and current Arizona Cardinals linebacker Larry Foote made waves last week when he gave his take on what truly ails the Michigan football program.

"They better change up their recruiting,” Foote told WXYT 97.1 FM. “They better get some eyes in there that can find some NFL talent. Michigan better go back to the hood (recruiting). They've got too many trust fund babies and they look like that when they're playing. They've got guys out there – they're just happy. They're happy they're playing at Michigan. But that's not Michigan football; the attitude has to change."

The reaction from fans to those potent words by the former All American linebacker was mixed. Some thought the critique was on target, while others thought it was both too simplistic and stereotypical. Big Ten Network studio analyst Marcus Ray, one of Foote’s former teammates and closest friends, believes that the comments were misunderstood.

“To put Larry’s comments into context, when he says Michigan has too many trust fund babies he is speaking (of) a trust fund baby mentality,” Ray explained.  “(Foote is talking about) guys who have it all or don’t want to play at the next level.  When we were coming up it was NFL or bust.  Now it’s not that way.  Some guys are just happy to be at Michigan.  Do I agree with Larry? Partly, as far as the trust fund baby mentality. I know some people tried to flip that into a racial thing, which I think is preposterous.  You’ve got to know Larry to know where he is coming from. 80-85% of the national football league (consists of) players that come from impoverished backgrounds.  You can go research it, you can check it out… but Larry is speaking from that perspective. He doesn’t think Michigan has guys who have NFL caliber talent (or) NFL caliber mentalities, and they don’t care about winning because their lives are already kind of set.”

“You’ve got to understand that when Larry speaks, he is speaking from his perspective growing up hard in Detroit, gang-banging, doing all kinds of stuff … (then) turns his life around,” Ray later added.  “A kid that wasn’t supposed to make it comes to Michigan and says, ‘I don’t know if I can survive academically, but I’m going to do what I’ve gotta do and go out there and knock some people out’ because he wants to go to the pros and that’s why he is a 13-year pro vet right now. Do I agree? I agree with the trust fund baby mentality.”  

But is that mentality a function of where or a school recruits, or is it about the individual?  It’s a pertinent question since there is no shortage of players with the aforementioned backgrounds on Michigan’s current roster.

“I think it’s who you recruit,” said Ray.  “It’s not really like (it’s) where you’re from that makes you a certain way,” said Ray.  “It’s really being able to identify a mentality or recruit personality or character within a kid. It doesn’t matter if he is from wherever.  (Former Michigan All-American defensive end) Glen Steele was from the sticks of Indiana.  I’m talking about the slum (of) slums.  He had that renegade mentality.  He’s not a trust fund baby.  So you can go to the sticks of Indiana and find Glenn Steele.  Or you can go to the Bay Area in a nice comfortable area and go find you an Amani Toomer.  The point is it’s a mentality that you’re looking for.  So it doesn’t really matter where you’re from.  It’s just Michigan has to identify those difference makers.”

“There are two questions when you recruit: can this guy play on Sunday and can he get into school?  If you can answer those two questions (in the affirmative) now that gives you a jumpstart in recruiting.”

For much more from Ray on recruiting mentality, Frank Clark’s dismissal from the team and more, press play below.

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