RR: where U-M ranked "not worth a first down"

Coach Rod at great length with the local press yesterday (including GBW) after he stepped away from the podium: he went on at length on family values, salty language, Marques Slocum, "team apostles" - and oh yeah - he even got to get in a word-edgewise on where the team stands on the eve of fall camp.

Rich Rodriguez: "I am kind of a simple guy. I live a simple life. I go to the office and if I am in town, I will go home and see Rita and the kids and hang out with them a little bit, if I have some free time. The people in the community have been great. I love what I am doing, and I love where I am doing it at right now. The last six or seven months have been difficult at times because there are things that are out of my control – and as a coach everybody wants to have everything under your control and so that has been disappointing. I have a great staff. I got a great group of young men, and I am looking forward to practice."

Question: Rich were you surprised with the governor of West Virginia jumping in and with the backlash and the snake oil comment, all that stuff?

Rich Rodriguez: "Well, yes, some of it caught me off guard. Again, I don't want to talk a whole lot about the past. To the level and the way it kind of all imploded was a little disappointing. I guess maybe I should have expected it to a certain degree, but I didn't expect it to come that far. All I did was try to coach and do as well as I can, and I changed jobs."

Question: Were you disappointed to have to settle and did you feel like you had to settle the lawsuit?

Rich Rodriguez: "I addressed it earlier. I think it is a situation that is in the past. I know probably everybody wanted in done before the football season started and it is done."

Question: Is that what ultimately made you decide the time was right?

Rich Rodriguez: "Yeah everybody wanted to get it done before the season."

Question: You defended the family values in practice. Do you have a certain guideline including what coaches should and shouldn't say to players?

Rich Rodriguez: "I am as proud as how are coach's coach as any place in America. I think our guys; they care about our players, they coach our players. We don't enable them, we coach them. I would stack up the way our guys approach are players, the way we coach them to anywhere in America."

Question: The salty language is part of coaching?

Rich Rodriguez: "I think that is overrated. I don't know where that came from, but sure when there is a time that is upset; when coaches are upset sometimes, there is some salty language, but some don't do use it at all and some of them do it occasionally. It is not a tirade all of the time. I don't know what you think, hear or believe, but it is not like that. Again, I think that is somebody just piling it on."

Question: Is Marques Slocum still part of the team?

Rich Rodriguez: "No Marques is no longer part of the team."

Question: Why is that?

Rich Rodriguez: "Several issues, academically and football wise, he didn't meet the requirements to play football at the University of Michigan."

Question: Adding on to that, we noticed a few of the walk-ons are still on the team from the open tryout. We know you are a big on walk-ons.

Rich Rodriguez: "Yeah, we are slowly going to build our walk-on program up. It has been pretty good in the past here and I think we will continue to grow that. Obviously, the first year is most difficult, but there is several walk-ons on our team that have earned scholarships and will earn scholarships and we will continue to grow that part of the program."

Question: Academically is everyone qualified?

Rich Rodriguez: "Yeah as far as right now. Again, we have some guys doing summer school. They have been taking classes this summer, working on that and they are still a couple of weeks left with that."

Question: Is there anyone in the still clearinghouse having an issue?

Rich Rodriguez: "As far as I know, everybody that we signed should be good to go."

Question: What is Mike Barwis telling you about how the guys have done this summer in terms of the program?

Rich Rodriguez: "I just talked to Mike the other day and talking to the players, they are really excited. They have been there all summer. They have been working extremely hard. At the beginning of the summer they were talking about how hard it was and by the end of summer they were talking about how excited they are, because they were making all their lists and their conditioning runs and even the freshman that have been there for a few weeks now have come up and said they have seen changes in their bodies and their conditioning. I am excited. I am excited to see it myself. I'll know more answers on August 4th when we begin practice, but just looking at them and talking to them, I think they are ready to go."

Question: Who did you have over to your house last night?

Rich Rodriguez: "I had a handful of players that we call ‘the apostles'. It is a group of guys that the players pick as their leaders, some from each class … we always do that in the summer. I will meet them every week and we talk about issues and things that they would like to see and all that. It is really a kind of communication not that you have to be one of those guys to talk to me, but those guys are kind of the voice of players on certain things. And we had a nice meeting last night. They were over my house for a couple of hours, so it was good."

Question: Who are the guys in the apostles?

Rich Rodriguez: "I don't want to give you all the names. Not that I am hiding anything, that is just kind of an internal team thing. I think there are 20 guys, which is a lot. Normally there is only about 10-12, but they picked so many of the players, which is a good thing, who they feel is their leaders; the more the better."

Question : It is unusual to come in this thing without Michigan being ranked among the top three in the conference; is that reality, perception, does it put a chip on your guy's shoulders?

Rich Rodriguez: "You would have to ask the players about it, but I think it is reality. Look who we lost, how many guys did we lost on offense that were not just starters last year, but maybe the last three to four years, some great players in the transition. Is this the most difficult? Sure it is, because it is a transition year. The last I checked where you're ranked wasn't worth a first down. I have been on both ends of the spectrum. Usually if you are ranked pretty high it means you got some pretty good guys coming back, but just because you are not ranked high, doesn't mean you don't have anybody. I have got some good players, and I have got some guys who haven't played yet that I think I am anxious to see in action and I am hoping that they should show that pretty good."

Question: When you go to a new program that has a lot of tradition and you want to do your thing … but there are things about jersey numbers, charity functions …?

Rich Rodriguez: "Yeah I was ignorant about the jersey number thing and all that. Again that is my job to find all that out and certainly I am doing all that I can to that end. But as far as doing your thing, I think any coach, particularly the head coach, you have got to run your system. Some of the people who I probably respect the most, both in the profession and guys that are successful in their profession, business, whatever said coach, ‘Whatever you do, you've got to be yourself.' That is what I have always done, what you got to do. I know one thing that we are not going to do is be fake. I am not going to try and be someone else. I am going to try and be the same guy that has coached 20 some years and run things our way, and it has seemed to work. The players that have played for me, whether it is a year ago, two years or 15 years ago, are still keeping in touch, calling and staying close – and that to me tells me that maybe we are doing things the right way."

Question: Being the new guy out of the Big Ten coaches, do you feel the need to kind of step back and kind of watch one year through and see how things go?

Rich Rodriguez: "We are going to jump in the fray and compete right away."

Question: In terms of the coaching and meetings?

Rich Rodriguez: "See I know most of these coaches; I have been affiliated with some apparel companies and have been on retreats with Coach Paterno and Coach Zook and Coach Tiller. I have known Bret (Bielema) for a long time. I have known a lot of these coaches. In our profession, there is not a real big group of fellows, so you get to know them pretty well. I don't know the teams as well because we haven't played them. You are going to study the film each and every year and every year is different anyway."

Question: Given everything that we have talked about, do you feel fairly or not like you have some image restoration to do?

Rich Rodriguez: "Gosh ya'll probably know more about that. I have not changed whom I am, never have, but it just seems that the things that were portrayed were changed and that was probably the most disappointing part about it. I mean what I have done wrong image wise: did I cause anybody to leave, just ask the players. Everyone wants to talk about the guy who leaves but not the 99 that stays. Ask them what they think … actually that is not fair to ask them and I am just [saying this] facetiously, but it has been … it is disappointing in that regard. One thing obviously I still have my health, I still have my family and I am in a great place. If my reputation has been damaged that is upsetting – because I have just changed jobs and I have done things like I have done anywhere else … and some people perceive certain things the wrong way and have taken off with it. I guess it takes time for people to see what is really going on."


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