Excellent viewpoint article from Derek Bell in the Daily. Bell played under former coach Lloyd Carr from 2001-2004 and was an intern strength coach for the team last academic year under Rich Rodriguez.
Bell details a litany of reasons why Rodriguez is a true Michigan Man. He encompasses every quality and attribute you'd want from one, and has continued the Michigan tradition. Writes Bell:
These allegations are particularly unsettling because Rodriguez is a "Michigan Man," and his program continues the Michigan tradition of transforming young men into champions. Rodriguez and his staff actively participate in community activities, passionately promote family values and genuinely care about the well-being and development of their players.
Bell detailed everything the team and coaching staff does to make the community a better place. For example:
Following every home game, Rodriguez’s commitment to the visiting families at the hospital (both as guests of Michigan From the Heart and as his personal guests) never wavered.
One event that was particularly telling of Rodriguez’s character came after last year’s 35-21 loss to Michigan State. Despite the immediate sickness he must have felt after the loss and subsequent media onslaught over disappointment with the game and the 2008 season in general, Rodriguez took the time to socialize with the family attending the game that Saturday.
The patient at the game was particularly touched by Rodriguez’s actions and started to tear up as he signed a football. Rodriguez gave the kid a big hug and said, “I really appreciate you coming out to support our team, and we’d love to have you come out to another game.”
On a daily basis, the players see Coach Mike Barwis with his wife and kids at Schembechler Hall. This is essential in the cognitive and pedagogical development of young men, who are very impressionable and often emulate their surroundings.
Due to the frequency with which the wives and children visit, the young players see first-hand what healthy husband-wife, father-daughter and father-son relationships should be like.
And he details how the coaching staff cares tremendously about the players' well-being, something you don't see in your cubicle at the local newspaper.
I have complete confidence in the current coaching staff and that the NCAA will find the staff innocent of any rules violations. Rodriguez and his staff have overwhelmingly demonstrated that they are cut from the same moral fabric as past Michigan Men.
As a former player, that means more than a first year win over Notre Dame, Michigan State or Ohio State. And with this foundation, the victories will come, and those who stay will be champions.