Rodriguez lauded for impact of Michigan’s strength program


BleacherReport.com columnist Michael Felder wrote a thorough piece that was published today on the perception of Rich Rodriguez by Michigan fans.

Essentially, Felder writes that Rodriguez, Arizona’s new coach, should not shoulder all the blame for his struggles at Ann Arbor.

“Rich Rod did some pretty substantial things well,” Felder writes, “and he was doing it with an employer and a support system that was not all in.”

Arizona should be a better fit for Rodriguez because the Wildcat community will embrace him for the promise he brings to the program. Michigan’s traditional and stodgy ways, with many fans longing for the days and philosophies of Bo Schembechler and Lloyd Carr, did not mesh well with Rodriguez’s progressive style.

One of the more promising aspects of Rodriguez written by Felder is his praise of the revamped strength program at Michigan under Rodriguez.

“Prior to Rodriguez’s hire the Wolverines were archaic in their practices,” Felder writes. “The insertion of Mike Barwis (as the strength and conditioning coach) to the program was a plus that cannot go understated. He brought them into today’s methods: Working fast-twitch muscles, doing Olympic lifts and boosting flexibility.

“Those changes take time, but the foundation was laid with Barwis revamping of the strength and conditioning program.”

It was believed that Barwis would follow Rodriguez to Tucson, but Barwis elected to stay in Ann Arbor. Rodriguez, however, hired Chris Allen, a Barwis protege, to be the strength and conditioning coach. Allen learned Barwis’ techniques at West Virginia and Michigan when Rodriguez coached at both places.

Allen, 35, was director of skill development and associate director of strength and conditioning at Michigan from 2008-10, and spent five seasons (2003-07) as a member of the West Virginia strength staff as coordinator of strength and conditioning and director of skill development.

The YouTube video shows a very knowledgeable and determined Barwis. Rodriguez must have seen some of the same qualities in Allen to hire him as the strength and conditioning coach.

Rodriquez talked a great deal about the physical shape, or lack thereof, of the Wildcats during the spring workouts. It is obvious the importance Rodriguez places on getting his players conditioned to the maximum to handle the rigors of daily practice and the football games.

For Felder to point this out in his column, shows how much those around the Michigan program realize how important Rodriguez was in physically preparing the Wolverines. The Wildcats appear to be in good hands.

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