When Rich Rodriguez brought his superstar Strength & Conditioning Coach (Mike “The Animal” Barwis) with him from West Virginia, everyone knew that Michigan’s doughnut-soft bodies were in for a restructuring. Barwis expects offensive and defensive linemen to run as much as everyone else. They don’t get breaks because they’re 300+ lbs. Justin Boren—a five-star sophomore legacy who happens to be one of those 300+ guys—apparently doesn’t like to run. And by “doesn’t like to run”, I mean he would rather quit football, desecrate the Michigan football program, and transfer to Ohio St. instead of running.
I don’t have an issue with a college football player transferring out of a program. It happens all the time and it happens to Michigan every year. There are a million acceptable reasons to transfer and I’m pretty sure that whatever Boren’s reason is can be found among those “million.” His decision to transfer isn’t the problem. It’s the vindictive way in which he managed to handle it. Boren’s dad said of his son’s decision, "We wanted to have this go away quietly”. They wanted it to go away so quietly that they issued a press release which no transferring college athlete ever does and said things like, “I have great trouble accepting that those family values have eroded in just a few months.”
Those of you who have ever had a Michigan football player in one of your classes know that the chances Justin Boren wrote that press release himself hovers around 10%. Whoever wrote it—whether it be his dad or someone else close to him—took a shot that was in incredibly poor taste. There were a number of former football players who held a grudge against the Athletic Department for not reeling in Les Miles after Lloyd Carr retired. I can only guess that many of those same players were disgusted to see Michigan overhaul its entire football program by allowing Rodriguez to install the spread-offense. Desmond Howard has made comments on how Michigan shouldn’t have hired Rodriguez and he is definitely not the only one. I’m guessing Mike Boren can be counted among that group as well. It’s rarely a surprise to anyone when a college athlete wants to transfer. However, it really not a surprise when the kid who is transferring is the son of one of those disenchanted ex-football players. I’m pretty sure that explains the potshot on the way out about “eroding family values.” I’m also pretty sure that explains Mike Boren’s attempts to get Ohio St. to take in his son. I’m not sure there has ever been a Michigan football starter who transferred to Ohio St. It just doesn’t happen.
Anyone who paid any attention whatsoever to the comments made by Rodriguez’s former football players at West Virginia knows that Rodriguez and his players are extremely close. They vouched for his program and his values. Many of them have come to Ann Arbor to continue working out in anticipation for the NFL Draft. The whole state of West Virginia was infatuated with Rodriguez until he left for bluer pastures. So “eroding family values” in just two months screams of desperation. It’s perfectly OK to transfer. It’s not even close to OK when you try to hurt the reputation of your former school on the way out by bringing into question the values of the head coach. That is a low blow even by college football standards. The Boren’s should be ashamed of themselves—which I can assure you that they most certainly are not—for turning an innocent desire to transfer into an unprovoked attack on the Michigan football program. Boren’s actions are infinitely more reprehensible than someone like Eric Gordon or Brandon Inge. Gordon changed his mind while he was still in high school. Inge--albeit incredibly misguided--is simply upset about diminished playing time. Boren quit his team, disparaged it on the way out, and is openly seeking refuge with the arch-rival. At least Michigan will know who the least conditioned player on Ohio St’s O-Line is when they play the Buckeyes in 2009.