Head coach Rich Rodriguez rounds up his players for team photos Sunday at Michigan Stadium.
If the University of Michigan wanted to continue to do things the time-honored "Michigan way," it wouldn't have cut a $2.5 million check for West Virginia.
The school shelled out the big buyout money - and new coach Rich Rodriguez tacked on $1.5 million from his own bank account - so Rodriguez could do things his way in Ann Arbor.
Die-hard Wolverines fans complained for years that the program's strength and conditioning methods needed to be modernized.
So Rodriguez brought in Mike Barwis, his conditioning guru for the previous five years at West Virginia, received the go-ahead to purchase $1 million in new equipment, and got out of the way so Barwis could reshape the players' bodies.
"Our guys in the past have trained very hard, did a great job," Rodriguez said. "Just the way our guys train now is a little bit different."
That goes, too, for the Michigan alums in the NFL who return to school each summer to work out.
"I think it helps when some of the pro players that played at Michigan," Rodriguez said, "that didn't even know Mike, now train with him diligently and they're definitely some of his biggest advocates."
Virtually every Michigan player has a story of how he grew stronger and leaner at the same time, how he cut out Big Macs or soda pop or other counterproductive goodies along the way.
"I've tried to cut out the red meat," said senior defensive end Tim Jamison, a former Thornton High School all-stater who expects to eclipse last year's 5.5 sacks after cutting down to 263 pounds.
"I couldn't cut it all the way out, but I slowed it down. I feel like if I went to McDonald's now, it would feel real heavy on me. When I'd eat McDonald's in the past, I'd feel just fine."
Michigan's remarkable re- conditioning should lend itself nicely to the other Rodriguez staple he brings from West Virginia: the spread offense.
"I've been running the same system for 18 years," said Rodriguez, 45, who became a head coach at Salem College when he was 24.
Michigan doesn't appear to have the players necessary to run Rodriguez's spread the way West Virginia ruled with it in recent years.
While the Wolverines boast several talented young receivers, they return just one starting offensive lineman, and Rodriguez must choose between Georgia Tech transfer Steven Threet and walk-on Nick Sheridan at quarterback.
For now, at least, Rodriguez can joke about the Wolverines' relative lack of talent at QB.
"We're practicing some of the same plays as when Shaun King was the quarterback (at Tulane) and with Pat White (at West Virginia)," Rodriguez said. "We're just calling the other ones more."