Catching Up With Tyrone Wheatley

GoBlueWolverine recently caught up with one of the all-time great Michigan tailbacks, Tyrone Wheatley. Old #6 discussed his post NFL life, his thoughts on the Wolverines being left out of the national title game, the Rose Bowl, the passing of Bo Schembechler, and much much more.

So Tyrone, it’s good to see you. What’s been going on with you?

"Well thanks. Right now I have been finishing up my bachelor’s degree and trying to figure out which way am I going to go for my master’s degree. It will be either academic administration or counseling. Also I was just hired as the head football and track and field coach and Dearborn Heights Robichaud."

Let’s talk about that for a minute. That is your old high school. Talk about going back to help out?

"It always feels great. That was always a dream of mine... to leave, go do some things on my own, and then come back and hopefully turn the program around. The program is not in dire straits where it needs to be totally turned around, but just go out and lend some of the things that I have learned and then pass it on to the kids will be great."

The program was very successful under your high school coach Bob Yauck. How does he feel about you coming back to coach?

"Well we both talked about it. We laughed and joked and he just stated to me that the kids are a different type of kid now. The kids are not like they were when I came up. He said I have my work cut out. Coach told me it is not an easy job, but if my heart is in the right place good things will come out of it."

Have you had a chance to go back up to U of M and be around the program?

"I go and I visit every once and a while, but it is one of those things that I joked about when I was playing. I didn’t want to be one of those guys that once my time was up, I would just hang around there. It’s those young players time now. Michael Hart is playing exceptionally; those guys are playing really well. Like I said I just lend my support and that is pretty much it."

Do you ever give Mike Hart any advice since you two played the same position?

"I have always taken the approach that if a guy doesn’t ask for it I don’t give it. Mike is a totally different runner than I was. So for me, Mike has great vision, great balance, and he is a strong young man for a guy his size. If Mike asked for advice I would lend it to him. Most of the time when we get together we talk about other things then football. We talk about life in general and just basically keep yourself healthy. We just try to build a relationship around things other then just football."

Michigan didn’t not make the national championship because some people didn’t want a rematch game what are your thoughts on that?

"Well I make the point to try to stay neutral on this. Most conferences will have a conference championship... ACC, SEC and leagues of that nature. For Michigan, the Ohio State game in years past, with the exception of a few years, has been our rose bowl/big ten championship game. So now you look at the game that just passed, and it not only was our big ten championship game, but also our national championship game. I would say we let it slip away. We had our shot so you send your conference champion to the national title game and that is the way it has to be."

Your Wolverines are playing USC in the Rose Bowl next week. How do you see the game turning out?

"I think it will be a great game because both teams have had some adversity. They had their adversity early we had ours late in the season. These are two national contending teams that are going to be strong next year. This game will carry momentum for next year for the BCS and where these two teams will be ranked next season. This is a big game for us."

Can you give us a prediction on this game?

"I really don’t do predictions man (laughter). My last prediction we lost. I am a little sport superstitious so I am going to try to stay out of this one. I want my boys to win the Rose Bowl, but if I just had to 24-17 Michigan."

Can you tell us what Bo Schembechler means to you as a person and a player?

"Well to Bo, football was a life lesson. He always told us that there was nothing you couldn’t learn in football that you couldn’t apply to life. Just to give you an example... I was sick one day and really didn’t feel like practicing. Bo told me, 'you know what, I am a father. If I am sick, that does not mean that I can’t be a father for that day. So if you are a football player and you can’t walk, you can’t talk, or you can’t breathe then you should not be at practice... but if you can you should be at practice.' I am thinking to myself this guy is crazy, but you know what... I understood what he was saying. He was right, so I practiced. Bo never really taught sacrifice he taught being able to be dedicated. He said don’t worry about trying to sacrifice just be dedicated and the things you want, you will obtain. You have to want it and be dedicated. Bo was always about life lessons man."

You talk about life’s lessons what will you take with you when you are coaching your high school team this year?

"Hard work. Hard work, man. That’s it. There were days when we would get half way though a practice and we didn’t run plays right. The whistle would blow and we would start from the top. We have to have accountability on our team, not only about yourself, but holding your teammates to a higher standard. Bo also told us that if this was, easy everyone would be doing it. Everyone would be in a winged helmet. He said, 'I would have a hundred and fifty guys in here everyday, to play but once they step in here and see the dedication and the obsession that it takes to play this game they run away.' He said, 'I have never once had to cut a player... he has cut himself. That is what I will take to Dearborn Heights Robichaud."

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