While the most-talked about change involving new head coach Rich Rodriguez’s Michigan arrival is his fancy spread offense, another more subtle, overlooked change that will benefit Michigan is the addition of new strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis.
Michigan’s old strength coach was a guy by the name of Mike Gittleson who was supposedly an innovator back in the 1980’s, but his program began to seem outdated to most observers in the past few years. Michigan’s offensive line in particular seemed to be slow and out-of-shape compared to other top programs and wore down late in games at times.
Lloyd Carr even conducted a year-long study of the strength program a couple years ago to determine if it was still up-to-date with other teams and supposedly found that it indeed was. But that’s not what a lot of other people were saying around the country about Michigan’s strength program.
Former UM safety Ryan Mundy went to West Virginia last year as a transfer and said that Barwis’ programs were far more intense and advanced than what he experienced at Michigan and Barwis said it was a difficult transition for Mundy to make considering what he was used to.
Former UM player Dhani Jones worked out with the trainer who worked with USC LB Brian Cushing and supposedly was told that the program he had been on at Michigan was not getting it done in terms of flexibility and explosiveness.
Penn State is another major program that supposedly had a more outdated strength program that focused a little too much on traditional exercises that put on bulk and not necessarily explosiveness that is of practical use on the football field.
Now that Michigan has Barwis, expect to see a faster, more explosive, and better-conditioned team on the field. Barwis has already cleaned out almost the entire weight room and brought in all-new equipment after only a few days on the job. The old equipment was auctioned off at Oosterbaan
Fieldhouse in Ann Arbor. Barwis also strategically plants trash cans all over the weight room so that players can puke in them if need be. They’ll probably get plenty of use.Barwis specializes in using almost entirely free-weight exercises so that his players are well-rounded and gain plenty of strength in the important secondary muscles that stabilize the bigger muscles like the chest and triceps for instance. He actually trained players from several of West Virginia’s sports at the same time while with Mountaineers, not just the football program, and he has worked with top-quality United States Olympic athletes in the past so Michigan knows he is capable of training the very best.
Barwis has even become a recruiting tool for the Wolverines: top recruit Terrelle Pryor and several other big-time recruits have mentioned Barwis’ name as part of the reason why they looked at Michigan as a possible college choice due to the fact that he seemed to know what he was talking about and many of them felt he could get the best out of them and turn them into an NFL-caliber player in no time. Look for big things from Barwis and Michigan in the future as a new era of Wolverines football begins in Ann Arbor once Rodriguez gets his system fully installed and despite their early struggles.