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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Rich Rodriguez has embarked on a nationwide goodwill campaign during this new spring dead period in recruiting, and several MGoBlog readers have attended the show in various locales. Several were kind enough to pass along impressions and information.

Also, one did this:

(That is a Simpsons "In Rod We Trust" T, BTW. Also, if you've been clicking like mad on MGoStore only to get a 404, the new location is here; the link on the sidebar is fixed.)

Anyway, on with the reports:

Went to go see coach Rodriguez in NY tonight. A few highlights:

Lamar Woodley made a cameo with his chick, and spoke for about 3 minutes about his workouts with Barwis. He made it pretty clear that this will not be the Michigan we're used to seeing.

Braylon Edwards dad was present, which further shows alumni support
for the new regime.

Coach said we will be starting 6-7 true freshman next year. He really
said this and said "true". Who are the most likely candidates?
An interjection: Aaron Rennie, the perpetrator of the above and host of CFB Weekly, taped the Rodriguez speech and reports that Rodriguez said M would "play" seven or eight true freshmen. I don't know Rodriguez means by "play". Does he mean "will see significant playing time on offense or defense" or "will blow a redshirt by running downfield and watching other people make special teams tackles"? If it's the latter, Rodriguez plans on reducing the number of true freshmen on the field -- last year only eight players redshirted, two of them OL and one a transfer who had to. If it's the former, there will be a significant uptick in contributions from freshmen. Given Rodriguez's apparent distaste for redshirting, I'm betting it's the latter.

As to who:
  • Slot receivers Terrance Robinson and Martavious Odoms are holy locks to play early, especially if one wins a job returning punts or kicks.
  • Darryl Stonum enrolled early and is the highest-rated WR recruit on campus at the moment; he'll play.
  • CBs JT Floyd and Boubacar Cissoko will probably see the field as Michigan prepares to lose two of its top three corners after the season.
  • At least two freshman linebackers will play, probably Marcus Witherspoon and JB Fitzgerald.
  • Sam McGuffie(!) or Michael Shaw will also compete in the slot or function as a third down back.
Another possible true freshman to see the field: DT Mike Martin. Michigan goes four or five deep there, but it is a position that sees a lot of rotation and if any recruit if physically ready to play college football it's workout freak Martin, who isn't even scared of Mike Barwis. word.
Said defense was solid, QB is not yet settled, and "I didn't remember to bring my wizard hat with me tonight," which 50% of the audience thought was hilarious.

Alluded to Boren saying the media focuses on 1 or 2 guys who don't want to work hard 100% of the time, but never mentions to 99 players who do. ["A lot's been made about maybe one or two guys that did not buy in. Not a lot has been made about the 99 others that did," according to Mr. Rennie -ed] Says we will be the most intense, best conditioned team in the country. "Summer conditioning is voluntary, but so is playing time."

Said he was proud of Long, but it was no coincidence that Stephen Ross purchased the Dolphins. ([??? -ed])

They showed a video at the start of the speakers portion that was beyond intense. It had to have been a recruiting video because it made my scrawny, jewy ass want to strap on pads and sack Anthony Morelli. I can't even describe how amazing the video was.
Video comes in for further praise elsewhere:
Towards the end of the event, they played on the projection screens a video used during recruiting that was all Michigan Football. It was amazing! Everyone was so pumped up and going nuts it was really incredible. I had chills.

Then, Bill Martin spoke for a little and talked about the direction of the Athletic Dept. and how excited they were to have Rodriguez on board. Then LaMarr Woodley spoke for a little about training w/ Barwis during the offseason and his meetings w/ Rodriguez. He was very excited for the program and had a lot of good things to say. Then Rodriguez spoke for about 20 minutes or so and he was just awesome. He was talking about the transition and how excited he and the coaching staff are. Told a bunch of funny stories and just kept hyping everything up. He seems like a real down to earth guy, very southern, and incredibly personable.

I put two videos i took from the even up on youtube because they were just too big to send over to you. One of them is Coach in the middle of his speech talking about recruiting and mentioning that he forgot his wizard hat and the other is Rodriguez, Woodley, and the Alumni President leading the whole place in Hail to the Victors!
A couple additional choice quotes transcribed by Rennie:
"We do go (recruit) by the rules, by the way."
uh... good?
"We'll go out and meet some folks, especially my first year, and especially while I'm still undefeated. ... If we lose a few, you won't see my ass around here next year."
Your daily dose of "eeeee":
"Mike (Barwis) got enough education to get accepted to med school, but instead he became an ultimate fighter. So he's wired a little bit different, if you know what I mean."
And one final thing on some guy:
"If a guy starts to stray, you try to pick him back up. If he won't allow you to pick him back up, you gotta let him go."
Those were all attendees of the New York event. Another reader attended the Chicago edition and returned with some sad news on scheduling:

First, I was surprised to learn the extent to which the event is mostly a networking function for alums and boosters. I guess I expected more football and more presentation. I made some nice business contacts, as did my girlfriend. That aside, I spent some time speaking with Bill Martin. I wrote you last summer about an e-mail exchange he and I had about the Big 10 Network (he vowed that Comcast and Time Warner would pick it up by the beginning of football season; he was decidedly incorrect). I reintroduced myself and talked with him for awhile about the exciting world of commercial real estate, of which I am a sleepwalking member.

I moved on to football-related matters, asking him whether there are plans to upgrade Michigan’s nonconference schedule. Much hemming and hawing ensued, followed by these key words: “Probably not.” He explained how big the Notre Dame series is to the TV people. I patiently and in a roundabout way explained that, while nobody has a problem with the Notre Dame series, many are hoping the fourth nonconference game will be reserved for a home-and-home with a competent SEC/Big 12-type team. Again: “Probably not.” So that’s that. More chump/chump/chump/ND slates for the foreseeable future.

So then we move into the formal part of the evening. Alumni Association guy introduces Bill Martin. Martin introduces Rodriguez. Rodriguez moved into a speech you’ve read elsewhere. It was funny, charming and encouraging; I knew most of it from the report of the speeches he’s given in the last week or two. I was left feeling that Michigan football is in good, competent hands. After his 20 or 30 minutes at the podium I introduced myself to Rodriguez and gave him my welcome to the program. He smiled, asked me a bit about myself, etc. There was a mob behind me so I elected to get out of the way … but not before a football question.

I asked him what the strongest position group on the team is so far; I was hoping he’d reply “defensive line” or “tailback” because that’d at least confirm my hope that U-M will be kickass at something this year. He leaned back and scratched his chin and told me he’d not thought about it like that, but he’d have to say: linebackers. I was a little surprised. My girlfriend told him that I’d been expecting he’d say “defensive line.” He said, “Yeah, but your boyfriend’s not thinking about some of those freshmen we have coming in.” How to take that? I don’t know. Either the whole team blows worse than I’d feared or he’s extremely impressed with that handful of four-stars he and Lloyd scored.

All in all, it was fun and left me confident that Michigan will win many games over the next several years.
The Dearborn event had a significant portion taped the masses:

It's like you're there!