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Rick Leach Defends Rich Rodriguez. [Dec. 10th, 2008|02:00 am]
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Rick Leach, a proud Michigan man, appeared on WKTA 1050 Ann Arbor and spoke at length about the state of the Michigan Wolverines football program.

I read through the article covering Leach's interview, and I am left with renewed hope for the program. Replenished hope swells in stark contrast to my usual vacuum of doom. For years, I've been pretty underwhelmed with U of M. I hated Lloyd Carr. His championship share will always remain a majority share of luck and maturation of Moeller's recruits. Those parts added up to more than anything Lloyd contributed. I also dislike Mary Sue Coleman and Bill Martin immensely, for reasons entirely their own. However, I think I can live with better feelings about Rich Rodriguez.

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Ex-QB Leach: Carr should support U-M's Rodriguez


The Detroit News

Former Michigan quarterback Rick Leach, saying he had "no agenda" except that he wanted to show his love and support of the University of Michigan, appeared Tuesday morning on WTKA AM 1050 out of Ann Arbor. Leach discussed a number of Michigan football-related topics, including Rich Rodriguez, Lloyd Carr and the state of the program.

Leach was very visible at Schembechler Hall during the past football season under Rodriguez, and last week at the annual banquet, Rodriguez jokingly referred to Leach as his "agent."

Excerpts from Tuesday's interview on WTKA:

On Rodriguez: "Once Rich Rodriguez became available in this process, I was called out of the blue from my former coach, Don Nehlen, who was my quarterback coach my last two years (at Michigan).

"After I left Michigan, he went to West Virginia and basically built that program from the ground up. Rich Rodriguez was hired on his staff and took over when Don retired.

"Don called me and shared his feelings about (Rodriguez) as a person, as a coach. That's all I needed to hear, believe me, because I know Don Nehlen is one of us. And Don Nehlen told him this opportunity only comes along once in a lifetime and if you don't take this job, you're a damn fool. God bless Don Nehlen for bringing that to us."

On the thought that the cupboard was bare for Rodriguez this season: "Let me give you a few facts. When Bo (Schembechler) came in and took over for Bump Elliott -- make it clear, when he came in, in 1969, he did not recruit any of those guys on that team that he took over. Let's see, on that team he took over, there turned out to be 28 all-Big Ten players, nine All-Americans and, oh yeah, three players that went into to the College Football Hall of Fame. That's No. 1.

"No. 2, when Lloyd Carr took over from Gary Moeller and he inherited that team, let me see, there were 24 all-Big Ten players, nine All-Americans and, oh yes, a Heisman Trophy winner in Charles Woodson.

"Now, correct me if I'm wrong, this year's all-Big Ten team just came out. Michigan had two players on the first and second team, and one of them was a punter. I rest my case."

On former U-M lineman Justin Boren, who transferred to Ohio State and was critical of Rodriguez and his staff: "My own personal feelings -- if you don't like it here, and you don't want to be here, then move on. Because if Rich Rodriguez and his staff are too tough for you, if you don't like the way they raise their voices and, oh yes, maybe even now and then they cuss at you, guess what? Bo Schembechler did, Gary Moeller, and I believe Lloyd Carr might have done that every now and then. If that's your issue, then move on."

On the belief that Carr has been reluctant to support Rodriguez: "As far as I know, there's been no comment, nothing come out publicly to support him, and to me, and I guess since I speak my mind, my feeling is, I guess silence speaks a thousand words. I wish he would, because many people came to his side when he needed help."

More on Carr and Rodriguez: "Let me make this perfectly clear, I feel that from the time I've been here, I supported Bo Schembechler, I supported Gary Moeller and I sure supported Lloyd Carr. I'm proud that he was our coach. I'm proud of what he accomplished. I'm proud that he won the national title in 1997. I'm proud of how he conducted himself and the values he taught all those players over all those years.

"To me, if you take any player that he coached over those years and they didn't feel as strongly about him as I do my coach, Bo Schembechler, I'd be shocked.

"My whole point through this -- Lloyd Carr is not coaching here anymore, Rich Rodriguez is. And he needs the same support and the same guidance, and he needs to know players, former coaches and everybody, because we went through a real tough time (this year). We got kicked in the gut, huge. Give this man the same respect that you gave the others."

On salty language at practice: "I've got to say, because everybody around this town, around this country and in this profession had so much respect for Bo Schembechler. If you think for a minute that he didn't use language behind the scenes or on the sidelines -- we all saw some of the tirades.

"What a joke. It's just another log on the fire that they try to throw at Rich Rodriguez. I've been to practice. They talk about family values? Well, guess what? He allows his wife, the coaches' wives and their children to come to practice, and they coach the way they coach.

"Was I a little shocked and surprised when I first saw it? Absolutely. But if it's that big an issue -- they have their wives and children witness that, so it can't be too big an issue.

"They coach how they coach. Every coach has his own style and his own way of doing things. My whole point is, if you don't want to hear that kind of language and be coached aggressively for a staff that just wants to try to get the best out of your ability, then go to Trinity Baptist College and see how their football program is."

On Rodriguez not knowing initially about the No. 1 jersey tradition and doing away with season-long captains: "The No. 1 jersey was, to me, was a total non-issue. My only thing that I wished was that Braylon (Edwards), instead of immediately going on ESPN, just call (Rodriguez). It could have been done with a simple phone call, it could have been done behind the scenes, because that was just one more log on the fire for Rodriguez.

"As far as the captains, I agree totally (with Rodriguez). I see the value of captains everywhere I've been. But Rich Rodriguez put together a group in the summer called 'the apostles.' He had eight seniors, six juniors, four sophomores. That's 18, I believe. That to me is 18 captains. Those are the leaders he wanted to make decisions, so that's a non-issue.

"Bo made it very clear your whole senior class is your leaders. There may be two appointed guys, but your senior class, that's where it's happening."

On the 3-9 season: "There's no question we all took a kick in the gut. But when I look at it, I just don't look at the wins and losses. I see where we're at, the baseline we need to start with, and the talent and the speed and the athletic ability that he currently is roping up on the recruiting trail.

"I believe in him 100 percent, and I am excited about our future."

More on Rodriguez: "They bring all the former players back once a year. One year it's Ohio State, one year it's Michigan State. I was out there with two of my sons, fired up because the (Spartans) were in town, and I wanted them bad.

"When they came down the tunnel, and I'm standing 10 yards from that tunnel and Rich Rodriguez came down with the seniors, and I took one look in his eye, and I said, 'That's my guy.' I've seen that look before, I've played for him. His name was Bo Schembechler, and I'm damn proud (Rodriguez is) here."

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Comparison to Schembechler? Daaaaaaaamn. That's a bold statement. Rick wouldn't just shit all over his late great coach's reputation with a comparison that didn't hold water. Maybe the talent pool was that thin.
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