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Checking in with Rich Rodriguez, Part II

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Here's the second half of my interview with Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez.

You've said you've learned from last season. Has it changed the way you coach at all?

Rich Rodriguez: Well, I learned what I had. I also learned that at every program in America, the formula for success is the same. It's recruiting the right people, it's developing the right way. Whether you're Michigan or West Virginia, it doesn't change. Get the right guys and coach 'em up and have them do all the right things on and off the field. In that sense, I don't think I learned that here. I expected that to be the case here and we found out it is. You don't just show up at Michigan and it's ready-made to win.

You've talked about that before. Does it take time to settle in that, 'Hey, it's not just automatic here. Winning doesn't just happen?'

RR: We did talk about not having a sense of entitlement, a feeling of entitlement. Just because you're at a great place like Michigan doesn't entitle you to anything. You've got to earn it and deserve it. Everybody wants to know when we're going to win more. I've said this a hundred times: When we deserve to win more. You're going to have to earn it. That was a lesson learned.

Have you laid out specific expectations for the guys this fall?

RR: We talk about goals. We have certain team goals every year, and we talk about them, about our rivalry games, winning Big Ten championships. Those are tangible goals, and then we talk about other goals within the team. More than anything, we've talked about the team becoming closer and understanding our great tradition here, the expectations of how we're supposed to work and act. We've really tried to stress the fact, and it's probably easier to do now that everybody's gotten humbled, that we're all part of something bigger than ourselves. It's OK to have individual goals, but they can't ever supersede the team goals. It's harder to do that nowadays than ever before because they're coming out with these so-called high recruiting rankings and people think they're heading straight for the NFL as soon as they get here. That ain't the case. They've got to work and the one thing I'm proud of our kids, they're working. They worked last year, and I don't know if they could work harder, but they worked harder this year. That will keep going.

Do you look at this as a two-year plan, a three-year plan, to get things where you want?

RR: I don't know if you can ever do that because sometimes you go in a situation and you can get it going and cranked up right away if it's all ready-made for you. Maybe the perception of Michigan is, 'Oh, it's ready-made.' That's not always going to be the case. We had some things to work on and some things to fix. And that's what we're doing, we're fixing them. I don't know if it's going to be fixed to the level that everybody wants right away, but it'll be fixed eventually. We're confident in that, and we've made those steps. Hopefully, we'll see it during the season. I expect us to be better this year. I expect us to be better than [this year] next year and I expect us to be better than that the year after. All the indications I have in the program are going that way.

Did you expect it to be more ready-made here?

RR: I didn't look at the depth chart. I didn't see that there were eight or nine starters leaving on offense and the recruits, what was coming in, what was committed or what was on defense. Or looked at game film to see what the struggles were in the games that they won. I saw the [Capital One Bowl] where they played great against Florida, but the Appalachian State game, the Oregon game, I didn't see those games. It didn't really matter. I figured, 'Once we get there, we'll figure out what we have and go from there.' Were there more issues than I thought? Sure. But I think every new coach coming in would tell you the same thing, at any program.