*Repost* Rich Rod Big Ten Transcript (Part 4)

(*Repost - technical difficulties the first time*) Part 4 of Rich Rodriguez's chat with the media at the annual Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon. He discusses Morgan Trent's progress, more on the apostles, defensive coordinator Scott Shafer, the new 40-second rule, and more.

Question: From spring practice to the end film that you have seen, what do you like and what have you seen in Morgan (Trent)?

Coach Rodriguez: "Just looking at Morgan in the last six months, I have seen his body change a little bit. He looks, I don't know for a lack of a better word, he looks stronger. Because he has done a great job according to Mike, and he looks like he has as far as getting stronger all the way across the board in training for the season and he has got a terrific attitude. A lot of times when you become a senior like Morgan and you have played a little bit, you want to have your best year right now. You want to really have the type of year that you can be excited about and remember and all seniors want to do that. I think Morgan has trained himself to get ready for that."

Question: Rich given the scope, size and tradition of Michigan football, are you going to be able to do some things differently at Michigan that you couldn't do at West Virginia? I know that is kind of an odd question, but like scheme or…?

Coach Rodriguez: "I mean you can recruit nationally probably a little easier. That is probably the biggest difference."

Question: What about the level of athletes that you have at Michigan. Is there any tangible difference?

Coach Rodriguez: "No. I thought we had some pretty good athletes over in Morgantown. Pat White, Stevie Slaton, Owen Schmitt and those guys could play for anybody. Naw, players are players and I don't think it is any difference no matter where I went. Now can we recruit more so called four star, five star guys, I don't know, it depends on who gave them those stars, who ranks them. We trust our judgment as far as evaluation of players. I think sometimes the recruiting rankings are a little overblown, but not always. Would I take a whole roster of five star guys, yes I would if they were the right attitude. So there is more to it than just ability, it is the right attitude as well."

Question: Should a coach be worried when his alumni base and his fans put too much emphasis on one given game and college football has kind of underscored with rivalries and forced you to (focus too much on) Ohio State?

Coach Rodriguez: "If a coach is worried about what the fans are thinking, he will wind up sitting with them. So I don't think, but I know what you are saying. I think our focus needs to be right now on getting Michigan better, and I am not telling you as coach speak. We have so much on our plates as coaches and players, I can't even think about Utah yet. Two weeks into camp I will be though. That is just me. That has been my philosophy in coaching, as a head coach for 15 years or whatever it has been, to focus on ourselves, understand the rivalries, winning a conference championship is your first goal each and every year and then take it from there."

Question: That is a heck of a first game.

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah, it is a difficult game, because of who they are, who they got coming back. You are playing a veteran team. You would rather play somebody…everybody says that would you rather open up with someone really good, not with a young team you wouldn't. I would rather open up with somebody bad. Are you kidding me, I am going to be honest. We are opening up with somebody really good but that is what it is."

Question: What would happen if tomorrow if Utah and Michigan just showed up and had to play a game, no practice, but just literally…?

Coach Rodriguez: "I can't sleep now and you want me to think about that question. Nooo. I don't know, and I am telling the truth, because I am still figuring out some of the things about our guys. 15 practices weren't enough to do that. I was hoping that it would tell me and it told me some, but 29 practices in August will tell me a lot more, I hope. It should if we are doing our job but even then, even then there are going to be questions on August 30th for the first game and most coaches will tell you that because we don't even have a preseason. So it is like our offense scrimmages against our defense and they have success, should I be happy for the offense or mad at the defense and that is the thing you don't know until you play somebody else."

Question: In terms of rules changes, how does the 40 second affect things?

Coach Rodriguez: "I think it will have a little bit of an effect. I think the pace of the game will move a little bit quicker and that was the intent. I don't know if it will add plays because of the other rule where the clock will continue to run if you run out of bounds. So I think that there is a balance between that, but I do think that it will probably quicken the pace a little bit. I will have to see."

Question: Will it be an advantage for your offense though for you?

Coach Rodriguez: "We try to be a quicker pace anyways, so I don't think it will affect us much differently."

Question: It seems like there is a big deal made about anything that has to do with you and Michigan football, the change. Are you surprised with how much has been made of Barwis' strength and conditioning?

Coach Rodriguez: "I don't know. Again, I am going to plead ignorance to everything that is out there, because there is so much out there, I thought geez this doesn't seem like it should even in the news and it is not true, so I quit following it as much. I think Mike has got, there is no question that he has gotten a lot of talk, more than any probably strength coach has in a long time, but I think it is probably because the guys were talking about him. The former players that Mike was training or the current players and Mike's personality. He is kind of a special guy, but it has not changed Mike Barwis. It is not like Mike Barwis is going to be a different guy and that is why it doesn't bother me, because Mike is a special guy. He has been with me for a long time and I think he is great at what he does. We kind of laugh about it. He kind of shakes his head and oh here we go."

Question: Being a first year coach, do you need to get to know your players?

Coach Rodriguez: "Right."

Question: Have you gotten to know them as well as, on and off the field?

Coach Rodriguez: "A little bit. Part of our goal in August is in that regard. Not just myself but all the new coaches. That is the one good thing that I like about camp is that it is mostly all football morning to night and you spend a lot of time together. So we will certainly know our guys better at the end of August. More so than you would in spring, because even though you practice with them, they got classes and you are only with them a couple of hours per day. When you are go into camp and you are with them 12-14 hours a day that is a big difference. I will know our team a whole lot better in those 30 days."

Question: More on the apostles:

Coach Rodriguez: "Yeah. I don't want to diminish there importance, but yet I don't want to make it think like it is a big deal. It is just a group of leaders that the team picks and then certainly, I told them, as I told them the other. I told them the other day that you guys are going to be held to a higher standard on and off the field and all that, so if you are not willing to accept that you got to let me know. It is not like they are going to be scrutinized even more, but it is kind of a sounding board I think, for the players to me. I want them to be open and asking things. I told them that you can ask me lots of things, sometimes I will flat out say no, but most of the time I will consider what you are doing if I think it is reasonable. I said, I won't make any decision without discussing with the staff as well. More than anything else, I want the communication to be open and that is the biggest thing from a staff standpoint and a player's standpoint, we have got to communicate well. We have got to communicate better. Those are some of the things that are disappointed when there are issues that come up that maybe I could have gotten communicated better and we would have solved the problem. Like with the Braylon's (Edwards) thing with his jersey numbers and things like that. Those are all communication issues and those should be problems that we need to fix. Everybody has to be open to tell and not be afraid to tell me anything, even when I am in a bad mood, which could be often, who knows."

Question: Where did you come up with the name for that group?

Coach Rodriguez: "I know people want to make it into a biblical reference but really the definition, because you have a different group every year, the definition is one that leads in a new way. That is kind of what it is every year. You have a group of guys that are leading a new thing. That what everybody wants to compare for instances last year to this year systems, every year whether Lloyd came back to coach this team or not, there was going to be some transition involved. There was going to be transition involved whether Lloyd was coaching or I was coaching, because Chad (Henne), Mike (Hart) and Jake (Long) all left. So there was going to be some transition involved because of new players. Now you couple that with new schemes. You are always looking. Each year is a new year. I know that sounds like coach speak, but I can't stress that enough because there are so many seniors or guys moving on that the makeup of the team will change. You want the philosophy and the methods to be similar, but the makeup and the chemistry is up for question every year. Hopefully that group of leaders can help foster the right chemistry."

Question: Is the apostles program new?

Coach Rodriguez: "No I have done it for years."

Question: How many apostles do you pick?

Coach Rodriguez: "Oh I don't, the players pick them. Now normally it is anywhere; it has been as few as eight and as many as 20. I guess the more the better, as long as they lead the right way. I was a little nervous about doing it now because I am not sure, like I said during practice the coach is going to lead. Until I really know the players, can I trust them in who they pick (laughter), but again it is their pick. I think they will embarrass it and the guys that I had over the house the other day, they enjoyed the free hot dogs and hamburgers, but I think they like having a little extra responsibility or maybe an extra role. I think they will embrace it."

Question: So do the apostles do they take the place of regular captains?

Coach Rodriguez: "No, no and that is thing that I explained to them. Every senior is going to have a role as a leader. The team does not pick their permanent captains until the end of the year. I want every senior to have the opportunity to be a captain if he deserves so and I have always done it that way because all of the seniors are important, from the guy who is a four year starter to the guy who has just been on the scout team. I want them all to have the opportunity. To me, one of the greatest accomplishment that you can have as a college athlete is complete your senior year and graduate as a student athlete. So I think to me that is more important than a guy getting all Big Ten honors or breaking a certain record is to complete your senior year as a student athlete, that means you made it through there. I asked the guys, Morgan and them, how many of you seniors have the guys that you came in with four or five years ago that are still here. I don't know, ya'll can look it up, there might have been seven or eight from Mike Massey's class that are still here and those seven or eight are special and they should be treated as such."

Question: With all this change, change in philosophy… change in offensive game plan, when this season starts who has the most pressure, the coaching staff or the players?

Coach Rodriguez: "I think it is equal. There is always going to be pressure to perform well, whether you are in the first year of your contract or the last year. I think part of thing that we try to do is that we want to put as much pressure on our players and ourselves, every day. I feel that is why some of the best athletes perform the way they do. Why is Tiger Woods so good in pressure situations and holing out on the 18th hole or whatever. Because he puts pressure from the first shot to the 72nd shot. Every shot to him is equally important, so when they say he is in a pressure situation, he has put himself in a pressure situation from the first tee. I think the same thing... Michael Jordan tries to win every play when he was playing basketball. I think the best athletes do that. That is one thing we are trying to teach our guys. Try to perform your best on every play, knowing that you are not, but when it comes to crunch time whatever, been there done that. That is part of the thing that we try to teach."

Question: Can you talk about Scott Shafer a little bit. I am kind of fascinated by Western Michigan to Stanford in two years, how did you find out about him?

Coach Rodriguez: "I first looked into Scott when he was at Northern Illinois and I was at West Virginia, we both played Maryland. They had just beaten Maryland and they also beat Alabama. I am thinking for Northern Illinois that is a pretty good accomplishment, and I watched his team defense play and I was just impressed. Not only so much with his schemes but how hard and how passionate and how aggressive they were. So he caught my attention and then I followed him a little bit, but I didn't know Scott. Then obviously saw what he did at Stanford last year and the big win over USC, so when I called him, he was a little bit of inquiring, but also kind of see would there be interest. Scott being a Midwest guy, I just think he is a good fit for what we want to do. He is an outstanding coach. I am really excited about what he can bring to the table."

Question: What was his reaction when he picked up the phone and it was you?

Coach Rodriguez: "I don't know. He tells a story about he was going to the convention and his wife Missy said, ‘no you are not going to be changing jobs again are you', because they just moved out there. He said, ‘no, no, no' and I think on his way there he got a phone message from me, so he probably thinks uh oh let me see what this is about before I call Missy back."

Question: You said at the end of the year to make permanent captains, is there a set time? Before the bowl game?

Coach Rodriguez: "Before the last ball game. The players will vote on it."

Question: The last regular season?

Coach Rodriguez: "Last regular season game."

Question: Coach On his impressions of having national officials:

Coach Rodriguez: "I think it was a good idea. All the coaches want is for the games to be consistently called and not be a difference between one crew and another crew and the attempt to go national, I think is to make it more consistent. There are good officials in every league, I don't want to say they interpret rules different because the rules are the rules, but some leagues maybe call it a little closer in one regard than another. This attempt is again to get everybody in line. I think it is a great idea."

Question: In the coaching fraternity are there stereotypes of the Pac-10 crew compared to a…?

Coach Rodriguez: "I haven't seen it and having been in bowl games for the last five or six years, you go to the bowl games and you get crews from other leagues, and I didn't see a whole lot of difference in those games. I think there was a lot to talk about that, but I have not sensed any difference."

Question: One of the points has been, you know what you are getting in the Big Ten at least, this way you won't know what you are getting.

Coach Rodriguez: "Again, I think we had some Big Ten officials over the years, and I didn't notice much difference when I had them compared to Big East officials or Pac-10 or whoever we had in the bowl, ACC guys. Obviously if a call doesn't go your way, you are going to be upset. I used to yell a lot in my younger years as a young coach, but then I figured out they don't listen to you anyways and now with 100 and some thousand they aren't going to hear you, so why scream and yell."

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