Rich Rod Big Ten Transcript (Part 2)

Part 2 of Rich Rodriguez's chat with the media at the annual Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon. "The apostles;" all parties and the adjusting process – coaches, players, other teams, and to other teams. The criticisms from other Big Ten coaches. Penn State.

Question: You talked a little bit about having "the apostles" over to your house?

Rich Rodriguez: "Yeah it was fun, because when I talked to the guys, I said in some respects, I know the freshman better than I know them, because when we recruited them, we were in their homes. I met a lot of parents at the spring game, but not all of them. I haven't been in their houses. So part of the goal for our coaches this summer and especially during camp is to really get to know our upper classmen. That personal relationship and I think that it helps when you know the guy better. It helps you coach them and know how to motivate him, some of the issues that he may be going through … and that is one of our big goals coming out of camp is for the staff and in particular the new staff to really get to know the players."

Question: You don't like to talk about Boren (and his comments about there not being a family atmosphere in the program). (After all that) have you seen this team kind of come together more and in the spring?

Rich Rodriguez: "I have. I have seen it during spring practice. Again, you would have to ask them, but talking to them, they feel pretty close and I could sense that when I see them walking around in the building or I have them over at the house. I can sense that they have become pretty close, but we still have things to do to get them closer. You want a team that has great chemistry. As a coach, you want to try and foster that, build that and we have ways to try and do that. Most of them will take place in August."

Question: On if the players are getting used to his style?

Rich Rodriguez: "Yeah it is different. It is tough when you have a bunch of new guys coming in and this coach didn't recruit me, he doesn't know what I can do and all that. You have got to be adaptable if you are a player and in particular it is a lesson learned. Whether they go in the NFL and get traded or they go in business and they have to relocate or something, you've got to get used to change in some respects and be able to handle it. I think our guys have handled it pretty well so far."

Question: What is the most significant rule change that they are instituting this year?

Rich Rodriguez: "I think it deals with the time clock and the 40 second rule … they are going to spot the ball a little quicker and probably with a running play going out of bounds the clock will continue to run until the end of the game. I think the process of speeding up the game, people are still looking at ways to do that … and then we had a few things a couple of years ago that didn't work out; it took too many plays away. These new rules I think have a better chance of having some success."

Question: In camp what do you need to stress to make sure your guys understand the rule change?

Rich Rodriguez: "We will educate them and we will obviously have officials over there and use the clock and try to get them used to the pace and how the game is going to be managed and how we are going to adapt to it. Other than that, there's not a whole lot of changes, but I don't think that it will affect the game too much; but again, I think there will be cases, particularly the folks that are watching the game will say, geez this is a little bit faster and plays are happening more quickly than in the past."

Question: On comments made by Joe Tiller and Jim Tressel about the so-called gentleman's agreement. Have you cleared the air with those guys, do you feel that…?

Rich Rodriguez: "I think too much was made out of the whole thing. We laughed about it at the Big Ten meetings, discussed it, all of us coaches – and it is all in the past. I didn't take it personally and I don't think any of the coaches are sitting up worried about what was said in the heat of the moment back in February or whenever that was."

Question: A question that I have asked is, will Rich Rodriguez change the Big Ten more than the Big Ten will change Rich Rodriguez?

Rich Rodriguez: "As a coach, the best advice that I got from some of the people that I respect the most is: hey, you got to be yourself. That is all it will be. I think it is too hard to be fake, even if you wanted to be. I am not going to be fake. I am going to be who I am. Our coaches will be who we are and do our thing and that is what I was hired to do. As far as changing the Big Ten, I don't foresee that. There have been spread offenses for years; Joe (Tiller) has been running it successfully for years at Purdue and everything like that. I don't see any as far as that big a shift or change. We are going to run what we run and try to adapt to our players."

Question: Of all the things that have been said, what do you think is the biggest misconception?

Rich Rodriguez: "You know I said this yesterday. There were so many things that were going out there that weren't true, that I kind‘ve quit reading them. I said ‘What is next' and all I did was try to be reactionary and respond. I spent all my time doing that, and now I want to spend my time being productive. The biggest thing, and I mentioned this yesterday, that the only thing that really truly bothered me was that someone questioned our closeness with the players and the family values, and I don't think that you can talk to any player that played for me 15 years as head coach and he would tell you the opposite; I hope they would."

Question: Is there any player that you have maybe selected that has been ridden a little bit harder … and the reason I ask is that when Bo was hired back in 1969, the story has been retold and retold, he chose Dan Dierdorf and he said, ‘I am going to ride you harder, because if you follow me, the rest of the team is going to follow you'.

Rich Rodriguez: "I have heard the same thing and it makes a lot of sense. There have been a couple in particular that we pushed just simply because we want them to achieve everything that we think that they can achieve. I tell the guys, our job is not to be an enabler, it is to be a coach, and sometimes that is hard for the guys to understand maybe the message. I've got to do a good job and our staff is explaining why we are doing this. It goes back to knowing the players. Some players you get on a little bit and it motivates them and they get better. Some you get on and they completely lose confidence and it affects them in the wrong way. I said until I know you very well, I don't know exactly how to coach you, so I am going to coach you all the same. Now I know them a little bit more, and I will know them better after August, to know which guys that need the kick in the rear a little bit and some guys need more pats on the back. I am not a big pat you on the back guy because they get that from enough folks, but sometimes I will do that as well."

Question: Who have you ridden perhaps a little bit more?

Rich Rodriguez: "I don't want to really get into that right now. I will do that when I write the book 20 years from now."

Question: You talk about enabling: what do you mean by you don't want to be an enabler?

Rich Rodriguez: "Well you hear about guys that have been coddled throughout their careers from junior high to high school to college and never got full developed because nobody was going to coach them to the point where they need to be coached. We have some very intelligent guys and they are hard workers and they have some talent, but none of them are good enough to coach themselves – that is what we were hired to do, and we are going to coach.

Question: You haven't been on the field since that game you lost … that was your last game.

Rich Rodriguez: "Been on the field since when? Pitt?"

Question: Yeah.

Rich Rodriguez: "Well I watched the side lines at the bowl game in Florida."

Question: On his feelings heading into the season.

Rich Rodriguez: "I am going to be like the rest of the players. All the hard work, you are anxious to play a game and compete against somebody in a different colored uniform. So August 30th … when you start practice the first of August, the players can't wait until the 30th gets there. As coaches, I would like to have a little bit more time. You want to have two months get ready, but we don't have a scrimmage game or preseason game or anything so, the first time you tee it off it counts; so you better be ready."

Question: What are other difference between West Virginia and Michigan; I am talking has their been a big transition?

Rich Rodriguez: "No and I really don't want to talk about comparisons. I mentioned it earlier that it is kind of unfair in a lot of regards to have to do that, but there are a lot of similarities. There are not as many as differences as people would believe as far as players. It is still 18, 19, 20-year-old young men that you are trying to motivate and coach to play at a high level and recruiting. The difference between recruiting is that Michigan has probably more of a national name, but West Virginia probably has close to that now. We tried to develop that. Players are players and the young men are college guys and they still have some of the same issues and problems and we still have some of the same issues and problems coaching them."

Question: Some of the outgoing seniors last year were kind of outspoken, almost like a sense of abandonment when I go back to Schemblecher Hall, I don't know anybody, I remember Mike Hart saying who do I contact?

Rich Rodriguez: "I don't know if that is true or not. I have seen Mike Hart a bunch of times working out there. If that is what is being said then I think that is the wrong perception there because a lot of the seniors like Mike Hart have been working out."

Question: This was right before the bowl game.

Rich Rodriguez: "Okay, well there are a lot of things in the past. Let's try to talk about what is going on now."

Question: The perception is that, oh Michigan is in a transition period, how do you feel going into the year?

Rich Rodriguez: "Well it is a transition year because we are doing everything for the first time. It is the first summer workout with Coach Barwis. It is the first camp under the new staff. There is a transition, but it doesn't mean that we are conceding anything. Certainly with our players, we are not going to go in there and say this is the transition year. We will see what we can do, how many games we can win in 2009. Our seniors want to win every game they play. I hope every player does. The coaches do. We are not conceding anything. This is the hardest year because there is more to teach that you won't have to teach in the years to come. There is more uncertainly amongst the players."

Question: Is there a big transition for you?

Rich Rodriguez: "For me?"

Question: Yeah.

Rich Rodriguez: "Sure there is a transition, because I don't know the players as well as I will obviously a year from now. I will have a better idea of what they can execute and can't execute in the games a year from now. Everything gets better the second year, but I like winning too much not to do all I can and win as much as I can the first year."

Question: I want to know how will you adapt a defense (to playing against some of the more traditional offenses in the Big Ten)?

Rich Rodriguez: "It is funny when people say how you are going to adapt. I have been coaching at West Virginia the last seven years, and we saw every kind of style that you could: from a pound you I-formation power team to a spread team to odd defenses, even defenses, so it is not like the last seven years we saw one style and one style only. I mean both in conference games and non-conference games we have seen it all. So the idea that all of sudden that it is going to be different in the Big Ten … give me a break."

Question: What do you make of Penn State? They weren't pick to finish in the top three.

Rich Rodriguez: "I think they are going to be outstanding. A little of what we studied this summer on them and who they have coming back and the respect we have for Joe (Paterno) and his staff. I think Penn State is certainly going to be ranked nationally and is going to be competing for the championship in the Big Ten. I hope we are too."

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