Former UM QB Brian Griese: 'You hurt for the players'

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

For former Michigan quarterback Brian Griese, now working for ESPN, it hasn't been easy watching Michigan.

The Wolverines are 3-5 overall, 1-3 in the Big Ten and are in the middle of a number of issues involving but not exclusive to the job status of Michigan coach Brady Hoke, in his fourth season, and athletic director Dave Brandon.

"It's not been easy for anyone who loves Michigan and has a close tie to Michigan, for a number of reasons, probably least of which is the record," Griese, who helped lead Michigan to the 1997 national championship, said Wednesday during an ESPN conference call.

"You hurt for the players. As a former player having been in that program and that situation, you want every young man who comes to school there to play football to have a great experience. And the experience for the young men on that team right now is not fun. It's not what they signed up for. That's the thing that hurts the most."

Griese said it's difficult to watch the players field questions about so many things that do not involve on-field performance.

"In today's day and age of rapid-fire opinion that comes from all corners of the country, and typically negative in this case, these kids are having to deal with that on a daily basis rather than answering questions about their experience and how they're growing as young men and players on the field and students in the classroom," Griese said. "They're having to answer questions about their coach, and about ticket prices, and about all kinds of different things that should not be in their conversation.

"It's disappointing, and I feel bad for the players mostly."

Asked about what needs to happen next for the program, Griese backed off answering.

"I'm not going to go there," Griese said. "I think this will play itself out. There are so many people who are interested and willing to put the time and energy into getting it right, and I look forward to hopefully being part of the solution and not a part of piling on.

"For those people who have a respect for the university and the way it's been through the years and the history, we all stand ready, willing, and able to help in any way shape or form."

Griese hopes for a positive finish to the season for the players, who close with a home game against Indiana, then play at Northwestern, home against Maryland and at Ohio State.

"I feel for the kids," Griese said. "I don't want the kids to be in a toxic situation because while certainly each one of them would say they could play better, this is not all their fault.

"I love Michigan and I want Michigan to continue to be that place where kids come and feel they will get a great experience both in the classroom and on the athletic field. Right now, there are all kinds of circumstances that are preventing that."