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Published: Wednesday, 6/15/2011

Michigan's mantra: learn to hate losing

New coaching staff stresses accountability

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Picture some nondescript college football player catching his breath after running a sprint at the team's practice facility and then turning to one of his more prominent teammates and criticizing him for not giving maximum effort.

"You're slacking," he might say.

Such talk from a freshman, or from a walk-on, would not be tolerated at most programs. At University of Michigan this summer, it's being encouraged.

"If you're not doing what you're supposed to do, you can get called out by anybody, freshman through senior," said offensive tackle Taylor Lewan. "If you're doing the right thing, you're able to call somebody out. I think that's the way things should be done."

Lewan and 31 other Michigan players were in Maumee on Monday to participate in a golf outing honoring David Mealer, the late father of Wolverine offensive lineman Elliott Mealer.

The consensus among the players is summer workouts are being conducted differently under new coach Brady Hoke, with an emphasis placed on accountability and ownership.

Per NCAA rules, the coaching staff is not allowed to oversee summer workouts, where attendance is not considered mandatory. But that's not to say Hoke and his assistants didn't lay out expectations for the team for these weeks leading up to fall camp in August.

"It's definitely different from what we're used to, and I think that's good," said Elliott Mealer, a Wauseon graduate. "Not that the old way was necessarily bad, but we've really been stressing on accountability to each other, and competitiveness. I think that's what coach Hoke wants out of us -- to make us hate losing."

It's a philosophy Hoke put into action this spring when he ordered every sprint, lift, and drill to be a way for players to measure themselves against each other.

It is the players' responsibility for policing the program in the summer and for working on improving in areas the coaches discussed with them at the conclusion of spring.

The strength and conditioning staff, headed by Aaron Wellman, is there to help.

"The craziest thing about this is a lot more people are being accountable," Lewan said. "New coaches set a whole different tone for everybody else, so people are really starting to work hard. These coaches are giving us an opportunity to be our own leaders. They're not just saying, 'Oh, we're the coaches, this is how it's going to happen, this is how we're doing it.' They're doing it, in their words, the Michigan way."

Lewan said he's fully healed from a dislocated elbow that sidelined him from the spring game. Doctors told Lewan it would take six to eight weeks before he was feeling good again.

"I was back in five weeks, full extension, able to move and do pushups," he said.

RODRIGUEZ GETS TV GIG: CBS Sports Network has hired former Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez as a game and studio analyst for the upcoming season. The cable channel released a statement Tuesday that said Rodriguez will team with play-by-play announcer Dave Ryan and be part of the network's weekly studio show.

Previously known as CBS College Sports, CBS Sports Network shows Mountain West and Conference USA games and is in less than 40 percent of homes with TVs.

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com or 419-724-6160.



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