UM Players Sound off on Family Values

Much has been said and written about the environment being fostered at Michigan under new headman Rich Rodriguez. Snipes about the decline in family values and demeaning language in practice were levied without much chance for rebuttal. At the Big Ten kickoff luncheon last week, Michigan seniors Morgan Trent, Mike Massey, and Tim Jamison finally had a chance to weigh in with the media.

Morgan Trent

Question:  Coach Rodriguez said the thing that hurt him most out of all the “controversies” was the family values.   Have you kind of seen what he is trying to get across in terms of family values and bringing guys together so far?

Morgan Trent:  “No question.  We are truly a family.  Like I said, Mike Barwis our strength coach, he has a crib, he will have a crib in the middle of the weight room and have his one-year-old baby in their while he is working us out.  So to say that there are no family values, it just makes no sense.  It is a joke to me.  It is what it is.”

Question:  So Justin Boren and his whole departure… what did you make of that?

Morgan Trent:  “I knew it was coming to be honest with you, but it is what it is.  To me it is not even worth talking about.  He is gone, okay great, now what.  Let’s talk about everybody else who is here.”

Question:  You said you knew it was coming though?

Morgan Trent:  “I say that because the way we work now, the way we run, the way you train, if you don’t love football, you won't last and that is the great thing about it.  If you don’t want to be there with your whole heart, you won't be there very long.”

Question:  I just heard your description and you made a comment back in the spring that said family atmosphere is tighter than it has ever been.  How do you explain the difference in perception among players about how things are done?

Morgan Trent:  “I think everybody sees it the same.  I know everybody sees it the same.  We have families everywhere.  From Coach Rod’s family to Coach Gibson, my coach, on the field at practice, which is extremely new to me.  To have the coach’s kid running around in spring ball and have like I said earlier, Mike Barwis our trainer to have him and his wife in the weight room and his kid, having a crib in the middle of the weight room, that is the most family you can get if you ask me.”

Question:  When you look at it, I don’t know if this has been discussed already, but a lot has been made about the approach in practice, in your face, a lot of swearing, is it really that pronounced or is that overblown?

Morgan Trent:  “It is. I am not going to lie.  It is probably what you have heard or more (laughing).  I am not sure if you have been there.  It is not a lie.  We have an intense coach, and we have some younger coaches and they are extremely intense.  So everyone has their own way of coaching, and we have some in your face coaches and we have some more relaxed coaches.  Our practice, he always says that he wants to make chaotic as possible and he does to a T.  That is going to help, come game time. “

Question:  You obviously take it as motivation.  What is the line here?  Is there ever a point or was there a point for the guys when they say, hey this is offensive?

Morgan Trent:  “Our coaches are never disrespectful.  I don’t know what you have heard.  They weren’t coming in and acting crazy and cussing everybody out just for fun and trying to break you down.  It wasn’t that.  It is just a different style of coaching.  They still have respect for us and they would never do anything to disrespect us or anything like that.”

Question:  Are there some guys who don’t take it that way?  Are there some guys who take it personally?

Morgan Trent:  “Maybe.  I am going to say the younger players.  I was probably guilty of doing that as a younger player as well.  When you start taking thing personally that is when you don’t get better.  You want to get upset and that never helps you out.  You have to understand and get to a point where you have to realize they are only trying to help you.  Rich Rod always says that he always wants to take you to a place that you can't take yourself and he does.  It is a difficult painful project but that is his main goal.”

Question:  Do you have to counsel those guys?  Do they come to you or do you have to go to them and say, you saw a guy that was getting totally cussed out….?

Morgan Trent:  “You got to see how he handles it and how he reacts and after practice you go put your arm around them and talk to them and go from there, definitely.”

Question:  Is that how you do it or do you say “this is a football field”?

Morgan Trent:  “It depends.  If some one is acting soft that is what I say.  Some guys respond differently.  Some guys you cuss them out and they get excited; they get motivated and other guys go in a tank and they are done, so we got to talk to them and let them know what is going on.”

Question:  I am wondering about the transition. I don’t want to say it was easy, but it seems your transition may have gone smoother than it did for some others.  Was it because your former position coach (Ron English) was one of the more intense guys on the last staff?  Did that make it easier for you?

Morgan Trent:  “Yes.  I have had the most intense coach in the world to me.  Coach E was intense too!  It doesn’t get any more intense for me.  When I was young, I was getting closed door cuss-outs regularly, and it truly has made me a better player.  It has definitely helped with this transition, definitely.  I thank Coach E.  I give him a lot of credit.  I think him for where I am now.”

Mike Massey

Question:  It was written in the papers recently that these coaches are really in your face… that they are really intense… and that sometimes they can be so intense that they are demeaning. Are practices really that intense?

Mike Massey:  “It is even more intense than what is written in the papers.  You won't understand that.  You can go to practices and watch and do all that, you can be at as many as you want, but you won't understand unless you actually do it.  It is extremely intense, but it is extremely gratifying too because you leave practice and you know… not demeaning by any means.  It is not demeaning by any means.  It is gratifying in a sense in that you kind of find out how good of shape you are in.  They push you and there is a reason that their offense and their defense and Rich Rod’s teams have been some of the quicker teams around the nation for the past couple of years since he has been around… because they just hold you to that high of a standard.  You are definitely tired and you are worn out, but they know when to push you and when not too.  I like it.”

Question:  How did you deal with the guys who didn’t buy into it in the locker room?  Obviously there are some guys who are no longer with the program.

Mike Massey:  “I kind of said it before, it is one of those deals where there was too much stuff to comprehend, too much going on.  Anybody who didn’t buy in, if you thought about that for a minute, you would fall behind.  To be honest with you, there was too much stuff going on, you had to deal…everybody went about it their own ways, but if you thought about what anybody else was doing or what decisions they were making, you would fall behind.  As far as people leaving, it was their choice, their lives, they can do what they wanted and all I can say is that I am happy.”

Tim Jamison

Question:  Justin Boren had said when he was on his way out, criticized the program for not having family values; Rich has said that is one of the things he really prides his program on.  I guess what is your impression the way you are treated as players and sort of the atmosphere around the program?

Tim Jamison:  “They do treat us like family.  I feel like it is a family environment.  He has his kids running around.  We interact with the families and do like a lot of team events over the coaches’ houses and stuff like that.  Transition is always hard.  You got a new coach, so some people probably don’t know how to respond to change.  You have to be able to adapt.  You can't just go around saying you don’t like the coach and talk bad about the coach because you’re being spoiled or whatever and you are not trying to buy in to what he is trying to tell you.  I feel like he is doing a great job with the program.  I think he is going to do a lot of great things in the future as well.”

Question:  You got the vibe about guys and how the team is.  Do you feel that it is pretty settled? Do you think there is going to be any more attrition?  Are there still some guys who maybe, you think in camp it is really tough, and they are going to be like, I can't handle this or do you think it is past that point?

Tim Jamison:  “I think it is past that point.  I think we got rid of everybody who didn’t want to be here.  I think the people that stayed here have big goals and they have bought in.  They are ready to see what it feels like to put the pads on after seeing the changes in their bodies from the workouts in the summer and training camp is going to be hard.  We already know that.  We are just ready to get the pads on and then start the season.”

Question:  I guess with the family thing, how do you kind of deal with being asked that over and over and over?  I know we have heard that question answered maybe 10 times by now.

Tim Jamison:  “Yeah it is aggravating.  I try to avoid the question, because our team is close.  We are bonding and as time goes on, we are getting just closer and closer.  Coach is inviting over us to his house.  We are getting to know him a little bit.  We will know more about him in training camp. I mean it is great, I love it.”

Question:  When coach was hired, I can imagine you probably heard all the people saying, he is this, he is that.  What have you found to be the reality versus what you thought the reality would be?

Tim Jamison:  “Well, people are talking bad about him.  He is a great guy to be around.  He is going to coach us hard, which is expected.  You want a coach to coach you hard.  You want a coach to be on you all the time.  But like we don’t buy into all the stuff that is going to try and destroy our team, stuff like that.  I think we are doing a great job of buying in and the way we are doing it right now.”

Question:  Are those practices as intense and with a lot of salty language? Is it what people think it is?  Are they in your face?

Tim Jamison:  “Yeah.  It is in your face.  He is going to let you know if you are not working hard.  We can be towards the end of practice and you are tired and you just want to jog to go get some water.  If you are not running, he is going to be up in your face.  He is going to let you know about it.”

Question:  Is it him or his assistants?  Who are the most fiery assistants?

Tim Jamison:  “I will be honest with you, all of them are.  All of them are.  It is good though.”

Question:  Are their probably times, when you are like get me out of here?

Tim Jamison:  “Yeah, probably at first it was like that, but you got to get used to it.  You get adjusted to it.”

Question:  You say it is good?  What is the line there?  Because Morgan Trent said the same thing.  He was like look, ‘he is trying to make us better, you don’t take it personally.’  What is the line between guys who take it personally and the guys who don’t?

Tim Jamison:  “The difference is you got some guys who have never been hollered at their whole college career.  It is an adjustment for them.  So when I say it is good, I mean good like… guys who probably took offense to it at first; a guy like me, I am used to it, so I tell them all and break it down to them like it is part of the game.  A lot of guys haven't been yelled at.  They have been babied.  I am glad we got that all out of the way.  We got a lot of guys who are focused so they can take the criticism out.  Coach Rod will let us know too.  I am going to holler at you.  I just want to know what pushes your buttons, what drives you, what motivates you.  Some guys respond well to a coach getting in your face; they respond well, they want to play harder, prove them wrong.  Some guys take offense.  I am glad he cleared that up for us and it is going to do great things for our team.”

Question:  Have you seen him back off some of the guys who showed that maybe they are the type of guy that needs to be spoken highly of to motivate them?

Tim Jamison:  “Uhh, nope (laughing).  I mean they learn to adjust.  They know what we want to get done.  He let us know what kind of person he was and they had to adjust to it.  To adjust to the betterment of the team.  They know it is going to get them better whether they like it or not.”

Question:  So you guys have to get used to yelling either way?  It is not that if you are a player that he needs to be nice to, they are not going to talk nice to you?

Tim Jamison:  “Yeah, yeah.  That is the way you want it.  You don’t want a coach babying one person more than another person.  I like it.  I like it from the aspect that it is going to get me angry, get me more focused.  I might not like him hollering at me, especially in front of the whole team, but it is going to motivate me and going to make me wanna tear someone’s head off?

Question:  Do you think that is kind of overblown, because it is a football field?  Did you think that all of the talk about coaches yelling and swearing is kind of not as big a deal as people are making it?

Tim Jamison:  “I don’t know man.  I am used it.  I was used to it since high school.  The head coach yelled.  I am like, I need to get focused, and I know he is trying to get me better.  Like I said, some guys have been babied, okay let’s do this.  You did that wrong, come on let’s straighten this out and stuff like that.  I am used to it.”

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