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September 28, 1992 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1992-09-28

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The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday - September 28,1992 - Page 3

Q&A.. ormer /flear o cs',ue s r er$o c cz'r
The Cleveland running back talks
about his adjustment to the pros

John Niyo

Leroy Hoard was a highly re-
cruited high school running back
from New Orleans in 1986. He was
touted as a big back with breakaway
speed - an uncommon and deadly
He was redshirted his freshman
season at Michigan and played
sparingly in 1987. Then his immea-
surable talent began to show
through in his third season with the
Wolverines. At the same time, his
tumultuous relationship with then
coach Bo Schembechler took form.
He was either rushing for 100-yard
games or he was suspended for aca-
demic and work-habit deficiencies.
His collegiate career seemed to
reach a pinnacle when the junior,
with sophomore eligibility, ran his
way to the Rose Bowl Most Valuable
Player Award in the 1989 classic.
His play prompted ex-Los Angeles
Ram coach John Robinson to say
that if Hoard were in the 1989 draft,
the Rams would have made him their
No. 1 selection. It was believed that
With this 128-yard, two touchdown
performance, his problems were be-
hind hint
But following each impressive
Saturday in 1989, Hoard took a seat
in Bo's doghouse for the remainder
of the week. He was benched for
nissed classes, poor practices, and
pulled wisdom teeth. His up-and-
down Michigan career came to a
close after the 1990 Rose Bowl de-
fa.at at the hands of Southern
California. Fittingly, that game is
better remembered for being some-
body else's last game with the
Wolverines: Bo's.
Hoard entered the draft amidst
more controversy. He had a year of
ejigibility remaining, and most
scouts and analysts felt he should
have used it, but Leroy decided it
was time to hove on. He was se-
lected in the second round of the
1990 draft by the Cleveland Browns.
He was again heralded as a big back
with big speed and enormous poten-
Initially, Hoard's professional
career paralleled his collegiate ac-
colades: glimpses of promise sur-
rounded by broken rules and uncer-
tainty. He was jailed for three days
because of excessive speeding tick-
ets, and suffered countless fines for
late reporting times to practice and
training camp.
Since his rookie season, Hoard
has settled into a steady back-up
role with the running back-laden
Browns. He hasn't endured a fine in
two years, and seems to have gained
a new perspective on the exploits
from the past.
Daily Sports Writer Mike
Rancilio caught up with Hoard in
between Cleveland practices and
talked with him about the transition
from college to pro football, and the
current state of the Wolverine squad.
Daily: What do you think of Bo's
current exploits involving the Detroit
Hoard: I haven't really followed
them. I have no bad feelings toward
D: Do you keep in touch with any
of the guys you played with at
H: (Jarrod) Bunch. Last weekend
I saw (Greg) Skrepenak (when the
Browns played the Los Angeles
Raiders). When you see the guys on
different teams you go over and talk
to them. We played Minnesota in the

preseason and I saw Tripp
(Welborne). He's healthy now, it
was good to see him.
D: Do you stay in contact with
the current Michigan team? Do you
talk with Coach (Gary) Moeller
H: Not really. Mo was the offen-.
sive coordinator when I played, so I

talked to him the first year after I
left, but not much anymore.
D: Do you think Michigan has a
chance of winning its fifth consecu-
tive Big Ten title, or possibly a na-
tional championship, this season?
H: Definitely. Everyone is mak-
ing a big deal about Elvis' (Grbac)
poor play, and that Collins should
start, but you shouldn't lose your
starting job because of an injury.
What, is Elvis going to go from
Heisman candidate to not even
playing? Talk about ruining his ca-
reer. There's no question he can still
do the job.
I mean, the backup had a good
day, but that's what you expect him
to do. You don't expect him to go in
there and have a bad day. All back-
ups have to perform as close as pos-
sible to the starter's performance.
That's the idea the coaches have
when they coach the backups. That's
why you have all that depth.
D: Speaking of depth, you had to
share backfield time when you
played at Michigan, just as Ricky
Powers, Tyrone Wheatley, and Jesse
Johnson do now. How does that af-
fect the individual, and in retrospect,
do you regret coming to a team-ori-
ented program?
H: The three-back system is bet-
ter for the team; anytime during the
game, Michigan can bring in a fresh

creased my worth. Like you said, I
wouldn't have padded my stats be-
cause of the offensive structure. I
would have had to share the load
with other backs, so my yardage
would have been low.
It was a weaker year for running
backs, and I knew where I went de-
pended on my work-outs. After my
40 (yard dash) time in the combines,
I knew I made the right decision -
that was the best I was going to do.
D: Your transition was publicized
as being difficult from the physical
standpoint. Do you believe everyone
has a problem with the training and
preparation involved with profes-
sional football?
H: I stopped working out alto-
gether about a month before I re-
ported. Normally, if you are working
out, training camp isn't much more
difficult than college. Desmond
(Howard) plays a different position.
You play wide receiver and you are
always in shape because you have to
run so much. You always have to
maintain your speed. There won't be
much of a change, maybe the things
that he does will be different, but it
will basically be the same type of
D: What about your transition
mentally? You again experienced
some controversy for your off-the-
field antics. Did those incidents have

hands of the agents as much as pos-
sible because they know from being
around what you're worth.
D: When you held out, did the
team try to put pressure on you to
sign and get into camp?
H: Not really. It wasn't a really
long holdout, but Desmond might
have felt some. When it gets close to
the season everyone starts to panic,
and you may be reading the newspa-
per and start to panic, too. In the
beginning, there's a disagreement
and no one really worries - but
when the season's about to begin
you have to get it solved because ev-
eryone starts to panic.
D: How do you think Desmond
will react to the transition from col-
lege to professional football?
H: There's not that much differ-
ence between college and the pros. I
mean, there's much better athletes,
but he's one of the top athletes in the
country, and he's going to be one of
the top athletes against anyone. He's
not going to just pan out against
tougher competition, but his athleti-
cism will take care of itself eventu-

Soccer gets kicked
around at Michigan
It is a so-called "hot topic," this gender equity thing - has been for
months now, and likely will be for some time to come.
Anniversaries tend to bring these types of results. You take some event
in history, wait until a nice, round-number of years passes and then you
rehash it trying to find some hidden lesson. Or try to assess how far we've
come since then.
Take Watergate, for instance. We "celebrated" the 20th anniversary of
that great episode in American political history this summer. What did we
learn? How have things changed? The media beat us over the head with
documentaries exploring the myriad of answers to those questions.
On a smaller scale, we are doing that now with the debate over gender
equity - in particular the Big Ten Conference's mandate calling for
member schools to reach a 60-40 ratio in participation between men and
women in varsity athletics. The original ideal of a 50-50 split (or a split
that offers a better representation of of the actual makeup of the student
population at large) is the next step, officials say hesistantly, and there is
talk of a target date set early in the next century.
As a concept, it all makes sense. Do the right thing. And do it now,
because there is plenty that needs fixing.
The women's soccer team is a perfect example of just why that is so.
For nearly a decade, members of the club team have struggled to achieve
varsity status. Doors consistently slammed in their faces, their pleas
apparently falling on deaf ears.
What they were asking for is a mere pittance - less than one percent
of the school's athletic budget. Michigan spends in the vicinity of $25
million annually on athletics. The women's soccer club wanted $50,000.
Pocket change. But $50,000 buys a lot of Umbro shorts.
It's an isolated case, sure. And one with mitigating circumstances on
both sides. But it does speak to a larger issue. What do these women have
to do to get their fair share? That's what gender equity is all about.
For so long, schools refused to do what not only the law requires, but
what is essentially right: Afford women the same opportunities as men in
college athletics. For 20 years - since Title IX was passed way back in
1972 - that noble ideal was been broomed under the rug.
Most women didn't want to play sports, came the retort from the
athletic establishment. They just want to be cheerleaders. And if they
wanted to play sports, who's stopping them? They don't really care if
they don't get the same attention as the football team.
Tell that to Shannon Loper.
She collected cans Sunday afternoon to help her club soccer team -
Michigan's club soccer team - keep its head above water financially.
Right after she and her teammates beat Valparaiso, 6-1.
Loper is a senior now. Her career as a college student is almost over,
while her career as varsity athlete never got started.
"When I was a freshman, all the seniors told me, 'Shannon, one day
they'll realize and they'll make soccer a varsity sport.' Now my dream is
over. It just seems like we're fighting a losing battle," Loper said last
week as she sat at the Michigan women's soccer club's booth at Festifall
- the one right next to the folk dance club.
Eight years they've been trying to get a piece - just a small piece -
of that monstrous athletic budget. Eight years. Still no progress.
It is hard to understand. No money. Why not? There has to be the
money somewhere to give these young women an opportunity to compete
on the varsity level.
The answers they got from the athletic department were standard. Not
enough money in the budget ... don't even have enough money to support
the sports we've got now.
And to make matters worse, the athletic department added this
reasoning: If we're going to add a sport, we're going to go the whole nine
yards. New facilities, new everything.
"They want to make it an all-or-nothing sort of thing," Loper said.
"That was the problem. We just wanted enough to cover costs, and to get
us started.
"I mean, they wanted to give us academic counselors. We don't need
that. We just want to get varsity status."
Until they do, they will be forced to find the money from other
sources. They will continue to raise their own funds somehow - by
doing everything from soliciting advertising for their own media guide to
collecting cans on Sunday afternoons.
And they will continue to pile into a convoy of assorted sedans in the
parking lot next to the School of Education Building before heading out
on the road each time they have an away game. Their own cars, their own
gas. Each vehicle with a Michigan Soccer bumper sticker affixed, each
player with her Michigan Soccer sweatshirt.
"We consider ourselves a varsity sport," Loper said. "We bear the
name 'University of Michigan' when we go out there to play."
But the problem is that no one else considers them a varsity sport.
They were forced to play seven games in a stretch of nine days before
Labor Day because NCAA rules prohibit varsity teams from playing club
teams after that date.
"It's really frustrating, because we go out there and it's a big deal for
See NIYO, Page 7


Shown here high-stepping against Ohio State, Leroy Hoard was one of Michigan's premier running backs.
Despite playing only three seasons, his 1,706 net yards places him 19th on Michigan's all-time list

back. But it isn't better for the indi-
vidual. Still, I don't regret my deci-
sion, you can second guess every-
D: Suppose you went to a school
that gave you the football 30 times a
game and you could have padded
your statistics. Would that have
made a difference in the draft or
your pro career?
H: No. Nowadays no matter what
statistics you achieve, they are still
going to look at what kind of agility
you have. The statistics help in the
area you get drafted as long as you
are the elite player. There are hun-
dreds of backs with 1,000-yard rush-
ing seasons. It's your athletic ability
that makes the difference. And that
is determined in the pre-draft work-
D: What if you would have come
back for your final season of eligi-
bility? Would that have made a dif-
ference in your draft selection?
H: I chose to come out early be-
cause I felt that I wouldn't have in-

anything to do with your publicized
problems at Michigan?
H: Those problems at Michigan
were blown out of proportion. I've
made a few mistakes, but I haven't
received a fine in two years and I
don't plan on it.
D: You held out for two weeks of
training camp prior to your rookie
season, and your current contract
expires following this season. Do the
players take active roles in contract
negotiations, and how does the
looming contract affect the individ-
ual athlete?
H: You really try to stay out of it
as much as possible. The agents
know more about it than you do, and
you really have to just stay out of it.
It comes to a point where you may
feel they are asking for too much
and are being too nitpicky; then
you'll have to step in. The owners
and the people doing your contracts
for the team might try to put some
pressure on you to get it over with,
but really you try to leave it in the

D: Is there as great an emotional
emphasis on winning in the pros as
there was in college ?
H: Definitely. Coaches use every
tool possible to motivate the team.
The older guys may not show emo-
tion towards winning as much as the
younger guys, like in college, but
everyone wants to win. When you're
on the field you forget about being
paid. Everyone is a competitor, re-
gardless of how long you've been in
the league, and pride takes over.
D: How do you succeed in the
NFL? What type of things do you
have to do differently than you do
H: You have to work a lot harder
and train harder. You have to be a
more complete player. Now, I'm a
receiver back and a blocker, where,
in college I was mostly just a runner.
Desmond will have an advantage
on other wide receivers because
Michigan teaches you to block,
which is mandatory in the NFL.
Most college athletes have to come
in here and learn how to block.

Canham to receive Homer Rice Award

The University Activities Center is creating new positions . ..

Donald B. Canham, athletic director at the Michigan
for 20 years, has been selected to receive the fourth
annual Homer C. Rice Division I-A Athletics Directors
Award. it was announced last week. The award, named

high jump title with a leap of 6 feet, 6 3/8 inches.
Canham returned to his alma mater in 1946 when he
was named assistant track coach. Within two years he
became the head coach for the Wolverines, winning two



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