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Posted on Mon, Aug 16, 2010 : 9:41 p.m.

Rich Rodriguez: It's a 'privilege' for Michigan football players to wear winged helmet

By Pete Bigelow

When Rich Rodriguez kicked off summer camp, he said a handful of out-of-shape players would not “have the opportunity to wear the winged helmet” on Sept. 4 if they didn’t improve their conditioning.

At the time, no one realized Rodriguez meant that literally.

But Friday, the Big Ten Network visited the Michigan football team’s practice and later published a picture on its website of quarterback Tate Forcier holding a plain blue helmet - one without wings.

Forcier wasn’t the only flightless one, although the network did not specify how many others practiced without winged helmets. Rodriguez addressed the clipped wings issue Monday night, saying it was about more than just conditioning.

“It’s more, ‘Has he earned the wings?” he said. “Certainly, we want everybody that runs down that tunnel on September 4 ... is going to be wearing a winged helmet. In order to run down that tunnel, you’ve got to appreciate the privilege you have to play here.

“I think all of them will, and if they don’t, they won’t wear the helmet.”

Rodriguez declined to discuss the topic further, saying it was “a team thing.”

Tackle competitions take shape

Taylor Lewan and Mark Huyge are the chief competitors for the starting left tackle job, according to their linemate, Patrick Omameh.

“That’s pretty wide open,” said Omameh, who is penciled into Michigan’s starting right guard spot. “They’re both working hard. You can tell they both want it.”

Lewan is a 6-foot-8 redshirt freshman who played on the same defensive line as Craig Roh at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Ariz. Lewan played offensive line for the first time during his senior year.

Huyge is the more experienced of the two. He started the first three games of the season last year at right tackle for the Michigan football team before starting the next four at right guard when injuries hit the Michigan line.

At right tackle, Omameh said Perry Dorrestein, Michael Schofield and Huyge have taken snaps.

Awaiting the next No. 1 wide receiver

The No. 1 jersey has been reserved for only the best of the Michigan football team’s wide receivers for decades. The next to wear the number may not yet be on the team’s roster.

“We haven’t discussed the No. 1 jersey in, I guess, about two years now,” Rich Rodriguez said Monday.

Two years ago, the first-year coach came to camp unaware of the number’s tradition. He caused a stir by giving it to incoming freshman defensive back J.T. Floyd.

He rescinded Floyd’s jersey, and it has been left unworn since Braylon Edwards held it in 2004.

“I guess it’s kind of - it’s not retired - but I guess it’s semi-retired at the moment,” Rodriguez said Monday.

Extra points

Junior Kevin Koger was named to the John Mackey Award watch list Monday, which is annually awarded to the nation’s top tight end. He’s one of 32 players on the list, including five from the Big Ten. …

Two-a-days started Sunday, but Rodriguez said competitions at running back and quarterback remained wide open.


Some drills are just kind of repetitive, but it’s fun when we do situational stuff like real football, last play, third and long. We really get into that. That’s when we start competing against the offensive and giving them some trouble.

- Defensive tackle Mike Martin, asked about the dog days of summer camp.


Sean T.

Thu, Aug 19, 2010 : 2:19 a.m.

I still haven't seen that potent offense yet!


Wed, Aug 18, 2010 : 1:25 p.m.

I like Rodriguez' attitude toward and stance on this idea. On the other hand, I also agree with plenty of earlier posters; does he deserve to wear the wings himself? I currently think he doesn't. No matter how potent the offense is, you can't ignore defense for two years straight and expect to compete in the Big Ten. Here's to expectations of a great season (or else!), including a Big Ten championship! Go Blue!


Wed, Aug 18, 2010 : 1:03 a.m.

Nice comments Jim.


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 7:23 p.m.

Our 2009 defense was a second team defense -- in quality. Tate played against the best defenses in B10: Wisconsin, Iowa, OSU, PSU. And, he played well for much of the 2009 season.

Sean T.

Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 6:46 p.m.

I've always believed that the best players should play whether they are freshmen or seniors but I won't forget about what Tate Forcier has done for our team. I think Tate's character has changed because the coaching staff has went another direction. Denard Robinson hasn't shown he can complete three consecutive passes in a game yet and many posters have him anointed a messiah. Tate wasn't perfect but he has leadership qualities and he's a gamer in the clutch. Tate took a beating last year as a true freshman as he tried to throw passes from his back because of poor line play. Now it seems that placing more athletic players at the QB position is the cure but I think that it's not! Denard is no Pat White and this is not the Big East, it's the Big Ten and we're going to be more one-dimensional with Denard at the helm. Also for those whom think Devin Gardner should be starting this year are completely delusional! I hope that Denard has grown tremendously but I think playing against the second team defense is not proper measuring stick.

3 And Out

Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 6:13 p.m.

Well Troy Woolfolk is reportedly down now for the season so that's it...they are toast. Why couldnt Rich Rod get more DBs up to speed in his 3 years as HC and recruiter? Why do so many players transfer out or get injured? Wasnt Barwis superiority supposed to stop the injuries? Why cant Tony Gibson coach up more CBs to be ready? Why does Rich Rod waste scholies on kids that cant qualify or wash out of the program early? All good questions. Cant wait for the excuses to start. Go Blue!


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 6:02 p.m.

We have VERY short memories; Tate was a real asset to our team in 2009. He helped win quite a few games and many of the losses were very close and on our "D". I hope that everyone improves, and we should not be fair weather friends.


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 5:57 p.m.

Way off topic... I'm reading that Woolfork injured his ankle today, and it looks serious.


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 4:47 p.m.

rich... you took my post off. i did not attack any body by name. iam starting to think this might be what it is like living in north korea?


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 4:05 p.m.

So, support the coach or else, eh Jim? No matter what the results. Good one. Group think is always a winning strategy.

3 And Out

Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 3:39 p.m.

BTW... Rich Rod leaving Steve Threet, a life long Michigan fan and family legacy off the team bus to go to OSU in 08 when Threet was injured but still wanted to make the trip... out of spite, pettiness and "punishment" was ridiculous too. Threet was the starting QB and he wanted to go with the team to make that game...but Richy said no. That was wrong and not the way to treat a kid who practiced hard, tried hard and gave what he could to the team.

3 And Out

Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 3:36 p.m.

Anyone here who claims that "Bo would have loved this" are simply crazy. First of all, who are you to say what Bo would think? All you can do is speculate on that one and its wrong to do so. Secondly, Bo coached at Michigan for 20 seasons... prior to that he coached as an assistant at OSU and in the Mac as a head coach. As a child he had his father drive him to the Michigan practice field when they were on a fishing trip, so he could watch the Michigan players practice in person. Bo loved and respected the Michigan tradition and for anyone to claim that he would love the idea of depriving amateur athletes who have committed to Michigan one of the biggest traditions in all of sports...out of spite and pettiness is ridiculous. Bo never would have pulled this stuff...he knew how to motivate and teach his teams... and he did it well and without scorn, ostricization or incident. He didnt have that many transfers out either...hmm...anyone see a pattern of problems that RR brings? yup.


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 3:34 p.m.

Shame and Humiliate! That's the way to Motivate! Man! we really do have some genius coaches! What a relief!


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 1:53 p.m.

the wings thing is a great motivation tool iam shure bo would be proud. sounds like you have first hand knowledge of the hygene stuff??? stick with what you know best... go blue...

Jay Allen

Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 1:44 p.m.

I think the question of the day should be: "Where will Tate Forcier transfer to"? Just another debacle.


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 1:28 p.m.

Nice comments Jim.


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 1:02 p.m.

HAHAHA! Love this. Have to earn the wings. Wolverines don't have wings, feminine hygene products do. Yeah... sure training in the off season, isn't mandatory... we just won't give you "your wings". He can use those "wings" for his next visit to Seattle!


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 12:51 p.m.

As a rebuttal: I do not hate everything RR does, though I have thought he was a bad fit from the start. I did not blame him for the Justin Turner transfer, for example. As far as "what if Bo had done it", well, I can't answer that fairly because it is a different era. But there is a HUGE difference between Bo in his first year (more wins in one year than Rod has in 2 years, not to mention a B10 championship). Winning and representing your school well gives you latitudes that RR has not earned. Additionally, why the ganging up on Forcier, everybody? Did he not go out and break his neck to bring us all wins and pride last year? Did he actually get injured and a concussion to bring US victory? Did that not earn him his so-called "wings"? He has done more than any of us here to wear that uniform. I question all of YOUR loyalty to turn your back on a current player. So, again, I'll repeat: I do not like this as a motivational tactic. In life, you are never more than one step from being replaced in any line of work or sport, therefore requiring hard work. There must be better ways of motivating players, young amateur players, than this. If it works, and RR is shown to be right? Well, great. But for a guy that has gotten my school on probation for the first time every, for a guy that has the worst 2 year start in history of coaches at UM, for a guy who blames everybody but himself for losses, well--I do not think he has earned the right to do this.


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 12:51 p.m.

As I've said before, Denard will be the starter. This is just another drop in that bucket. Personally, until I actually see him play an entire game as a QB, a real QB, I won't believe Denard is ready. We'll see on Sept 4. As for the Wings thing, personally, I have no problem with it. If you ever played competive sports, even at the HS level, you know the coaches will ride you hard to get the most out of you. I think this is part of what RR is doing. What I DON'T like about it is that this has gotten outside "the family". RR should have never publically commented on this and left it at "this is a team matter". Outing the kids in public leaves them little room to maneuver and despite what some may think, they need to maintain some level of pride. We'll end up getting kids transferring that really don't need to, and I'm not just talking about Tate. Disciplining the team is one thing, opening them up for public ridicule is another.


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 12:21 p.m.

I think this is a great motivational move by Coach Rodriguez. Bo would be proud and agree completely. Those commenters who are hand-wringing about the players being "ostracized" are forgetting that these players were given goals and expectations (presumably) at the beginning of the summer and didn't live up to them. Time to pay the price. The hand-wringers are also forgetting that Bo used to employ techniques far worse to motivate guys. David Brandon always tells the story about how he was kicked off the team in front of everyone at a practice, and how it taught him a valuable lesson. It's obvious to me Tate (and others) haven't gotten the message yet. Maybe now they will. But, I can just about guarantee that next August, you won't see too many guys without wings on their helmets at practice!


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 12:07 p.m.

Coaches use all sorts of gimmicks to motivate the players. This is one of the better I have every heard and it's surprising it wasn't thought of years ago. Bo used little football stickers on the helmets and I think OSU still uses little buckeyes. It works. The RR haters are never going to like anything he does.


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 12:07 p.m.

I like what Rodriguez is doing here. I truly believe you are just here to bash the guy if you don't see how this builds team chemistry.I'm not saying its the difference between winning and losing the ohio state game but coaches do things like this- its a good move. As for Tate- I see transfer in his future. I think a lot of us have been wondering which QB will eventually transfer and I would rather it be Tate than Denard. And all we've read about the last couple weeks is how much Devin Gardner has come on. Having Denard as first string QB and Gardner ready to go as second string sounds good to me- although it would've been nice to not need him til 2011. But, maybe Tate sticks around all season as the #2 guy then transfers (if he does).. thats probably best case scenario.

David Vande Bunte

Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 11:49 a.m.

Clearly a motivational tactic. The purpose of stripping the maize wings from the helmet is clear as day. The message is simple: You aren't playing with the intensity required. Show me that you are willing to do that, you get the winged helmet back. If Tate Forcier, last year's golden boy (well, at least for the first half of the season) is attempting to coast on what few laurels he has, he deserves the kick in the butt by RR. You have to work your butt off if you want to be successful. If he isn't putting in the effort, this is a great reminder that RR has noticed his laziness. I fell for the Forcier hype last year, just like everyone else. But if he doesn't realize that he can be benched because Denard Robinson completely outworked him in the offseason, then he isn't smart enough to be a QB at Michigan. If he doesn't get it together now, he isn't going to get his chance back. Denard will be the starter, and Devin Gardner will gladly take the 2nd string position on the depth chart from him too, before he ascends to starter. If Tate wants to be a real college QB, then he does everything he can to earn the wings back. If he doesn't want to do everything he can to earn the wings back on his helmet, so be it. Bye, nice knowing ya, Tate.


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 11:29 a.m.

robbie webb great post... the hater's are getting worried... rr is coming up with way's to help motivate the player's. when this team start's to move the ball you will see more first downs and a lot less THREE AND OUTS... GO BLUE...

Robbie Webb.

Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 10:13 a.m.

Haha! Oh 3 and Out...I have missed you. We're less than 3 weeks away from kick off and you still have the same attitude. So let me get this straight, despite the record, yes, the record that had to do with roster issues, you have said numerous times that Rodriguez doesn't understad U of M football (Haha!) and doesn't respect the tradition it entails (Again, haha!)and now that he is doing something that I find very clever and it still isn't good enough? Personally as big of a Michigan fan I am, I never would have thought to take away the wings and make players earn them.

Lorain Steelmen

Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 10:05 a.m.

I agree with Blueiniowa! This coach has decided to play the best individual at every postion. He has the right/responsiblity, to encourage everyone on the squad to be the very best he can be! If possible, RR has repeatedly said, he wants two or three individuals at every position, that Michigan can win with. This is a program that is growing, and re-earning, it's claim, of being one of the country'e elite programs. That requires focus, determination, and hard work! That is what RR is saying, when he demands that each player commit to earning the right to wear the winged helmet. I was a student in '69 when Bo came in, and did the very same things! I like RR and his determination to make Michigan, THE LEADERS AND BEST! If Forcier (or anyone else), wants to be part of that, fine, if not, then make room for some one who will. As Bo once said, 'The team, the team, the team,....NO one is more important than the team! Go Blue! Good luck in 2010...Big Ten Champs!


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 9:40 a.m.

The story lends information that Coach Rodriguez has an understanding about what he wants from his players and how to get it. Coaching is tough and to get the players to go the extra it takes to be a winner is nearly impossible with teenagers and early 20 somethings. The end result-to try hard and earn the honor of wearing that helmet is huge!!! Ostracizing? Singling out of the individual so they feel they must try harder? What a ridiculous notion! Just because someone was awesome in high school and then sign with Michigan gives them the right to wear the uniform? Earn it. Work hard then work harder! Sign and go equals MSU or CMU or App U. We are on the same level now. We have to be on a different level with players that want to be special and that is what this coach is trying to do. Go Blue


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 9:23 a.m.

rr wears the m very well... and most colleges use lots of different ways to motivate there team. some peoples opinion's don't mean squat... stay tuned for as the bowl turns... go blue...


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 9:19 a.m.

Wow!! This is trouble brewing, no doubt about it. I think Tate sees some writing on the wall here. Something like, "You are number two on the depth chart, so get used to it." In Tate's defense it does not seem that RR handles these situations very well. If you are not the top performer or have the best attidude at your position then you here by considered a "have not"!...and you will be treated as such. I somewhat agree with blueiniowa. If this were ANY winning/respected coach, then this would seem to be a BRILLIANT move!....unfortunatly for all of us, I don't think that is the case here.


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 9:11 a.m.

Mary Sue Coleman would not have hired RR if she did not think that he was a great coach. RR had a proven track record as a college football coach. In hindsight, I wish that we had hired Brian Kelly. Now, we still have a good football coach -- and the only question is "Is RR the right person for Michigan?" It has been a very rocky first two years and season three will clarify most things.


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 9 a.m.

One additional thought-- why is it that I have a sneaking suspicion had this been Bo's idea, some of you complaining would have been thumping your chest over Bo's genius even still today.


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 8:58 a.m.

I think some of you; inverse to the RR apologists, think RR can do no right. I think this is a great idea, as long as it is done right. Not keep yourself in top physical condition over the summer? No wings for you. Whine about your current position and status on the team? No wings for you. Not give 100% because somehow you feel slighted? No winged helmet for you. These and more issues I don't mention are symptoms of somebody who has forgotten how lucky and fortunate to not only play college football, and not only play it at a major D1 level, but also to play at one of the most hallowed places to do it at. You may despise the coach, but you still owe it to your team and yourself to play your guts out. Besides, if you want a serious crack to someday play on Sundays, what better way than to work out your laziness and/or bitterness at the collegiate level.


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 8:44 a.m.

How can anyone say Rich Rod has earned the priviledge of wearing a M on anything? All he does is disgrace the school.


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 8:20 a.m.

New: I agree that actions lead to consequences--i.e the coach has a total right to give playing time to those he deems as deserving and not play those he feels are not working hard. But it is an entirely different thing to strip away their uniform and publicly ostracize them like that. These are amateurs who have committed to Michigan (when they could have gone elsewhere) and work hard to do so. Don't play them, fine!! But don't give me this whole attitude of "deserving your wings" and strip away the uniform. In that case, I think RR should have his Michigan clothes taken away as he has caused much embarrassment and not worked hard enough to deliver his players a winning environment


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 7:41 a.m.

I have been critical of RR in the past, but I am pleased with his disciplinary actions. If Tate or any other players are not going to give 100% then they don't deserve to where the winged helmet. This action will gain the respect of those players who actually are giving everything they have to the program. In the Obama era of the "you owe me attitude" it is nice to see that RR is forcing them to actually earn playing time. I now have a little hope for this season. My new prediction is 6-6. (The defense is still going to stink)


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 7:16 a.m.

And one more thing: How is this action doing anything to build loyalty to the coach or the team by ostracizing players on the team? I just don't get it.


Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 6:52 a.m.

Earn their wings? Sounds like RR is getting confused. Wolverines are vicious animals that have 4 legs and hairy skin. Birds have wings. Does he think he is coaching at Boston College or in PHiladelphia? Anyway, I think all of these guys show up for practice, put in many hours per week working out, practicing, watching film. They have earned their right to wear the helmet. It is up to the coach to figure out who deserves to play. What's next? Does he kick people off the team because they are out of shape? RR does NOT get 'it'. These guys are amateurs (sort of), not paid outside of scholarship for what they do. They are bigger Wolverines than the coach!!!

3 And Out

Tue, Aug 17, 2010 : 4:29 a.m.

And what has Rich Rodriguez done to "earn his wings"? Anything??? 7-16+1.... after the incredible arrogance upon which he and Barwis and company rode in to town in late 2007, touting how much better, stronger and faster their team would be... what has he and his cronies done to earn their WINGS? nothing. It is pathetic and will continue to be so until he is gone. 5-7 3 seasons....and OUT.


Mon, Aug 16, 2010 : 10:46 p.m.

So when will it dawn on RR that it is a privilege to COACH at Michigan? So far he hasn't earned his pay. Season 3 coming up, and we're still waiting for him to demonstrate high standards.


Mon, Aug 16, 2010 : 10:26 p.m.

@vi4mi4- agree about RR finally getting it. This little blurb of a story may be the best news I've heard in the RR era. This is the type of story that gives goosebumps because it reeks of that old school Michigan Football Program attitude. Playing at U of M is a have to earn those wings. Build on this attitude Michigan!


Mon, Aug 16, 2010 : 9:19 p.m.

aw..ok r.r. is starting to get "It" Sept. 4 will his Michigan Wolverine wardrobe knowledge include NO RED WRISTBANDS anywhere near our sideline??!! Go Blue! v