Former University of Miami & NFL center Brett Romberg joined "The Jorge Sedano Show" on 790 The Ticket (WAXY-AM) this morning and had some very passionate and outspoken comments about the current state of the football program and what needs to be fixed to appease him and the fan base.
JS: Brett, what do you make of what’s going on with the University of Miami? A lot of guys have expressed a lot of disappointment. Where are you on the way the program is going right now?
BR: I’m kind of with everybody else. I’m not too happy about it. There’s a lot of things going wrong. You can’t really just knit pick at one certain thing. I know a lot of people are putting blame on Coach Shannon and the staff. But, you know what; it’s more than a one situation deal over there. You’ve got to have leadership. That’s one of the things I’ve noticed a big, big difference in. You can only ride on the coattails of the 2001, 2, and 3 teams for so long. You’ve got to have guys like Ed Reed, and passionate football players like Dan Morgan and Ken Dorsey, and guys like that. And (Clinton) Portis; guys that will run down field and try to take your head off, if he’s not running with the football. I think it’s a different breed, to tell you the truth.
JS: I covered your team 10 years ago, and if you guys did lose, that place was like a funeral. And there was anger. It almost seems like these kids are just resided to the fact that, “we lost, whatever, we’ll get ‘em next time.”
BR: The whole toleration, it’s kind of sickening. You know what I mean? Granted, you had Tyler Horn talking about how he’s upset that, you know, they took out one of their brothers, the quarterback, and stuff like that. But it’s just, utterly, utterly disgusting when your quarterback is getting driven into the canvas like that, helmet first And then you’ve got another cat on the other team, the D-lineman who did it, talking about taking the head off the snake. You know, that just doesn’t fly. Honest to god, the crew that I was with, we probably would have probably rented some RV for 29 dollars an hour, drove up to Virginia, and found that dude. It just, it just doesn’t happen. It wouldn’t happen.
JS: Who does that fall on, Randy (Shannon) not picking the right kids, or does it fall on the kids?
BR: It’s on [the players]. Honest to god I think it’s derived, just through tough times. And granted, yeah, the last couple years have been tough times, but until somebody stands in front of you and just kicks you in the nuts, it really isn’t going to dawn on you. I think the young guys now and the kids that are juniors and seniors…. I don’t know if they’ve had the taste of being the big man on campus, or being that bad ass team that’s just so intimidating, that people across the nation are talking about you. Guys that I’ve played with, like guys that went to USC, that were the big-name bad ass teams, they still looked to try to watch us on Saturday to see what we did. And they were still talking about our players. I don’t know. I think it’s just a whole new breed man, it just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work.
JS: A lot of these kids had a lot of success in high school. Do you think that plays a part in it? They didn’t lose much, so they don’t know how to deal with losing?
BR: No. I think it’s the exact opposite, to tell you the truth. It’s that whole silver spoon deal. Perfect scenario is, you’ve got a rich kid growing up who doesn’t know the value of the dollar. A lot of guys on our team were no name guys. Yeah, yeah, of course you had your blue chip guys, and they couldn’t even get football scholarships because there were only sixty available. You had to get them on the track team, you know? So, yeah you did have your talented athletes, but they weren’t blue chip high school bad ass football players. A perfect example is our whole offensive line when I was there. It’s like a bunch of guys that just want to be together, hang out together, and just kick the crap out of people together. And a lot of that attitude came from our coach, (Art) Kehoe, who was probably one of the coolest, funniest, bad ass coaches I’ve ever been around, and will definitely be the guy to motivate young kids. You know what, I think you need to go to a high school or wherever you’re recruiting a guy, check out his arrest warrants, see how many bar fights he’s been in, ask his friends, and he might be the guy you want to recruit.
JS: With the way high school kids are covered as celebrities, what affect does that have? You guys didn’t have that when you were coming up.
BR: No (we didn’t). You could see it even transitioning into the NFL You’ve got first round picks who flop. You’ve got guys that get paid a boat load of money, and the next year they, for lack of a better phrase, they kind of crap the bed. I think it’s a lot of the same. As you get older, the desire and the want kind of disappears. Fat cats. You become a fat cat.
JS: Brett, have you tried to reach out to some of these kids?
BR: In the off season we are around here. You’ve got guys that come back, work out, and do a lot of the training. And yeah, I did go over there a few times and sat down with Tyler (Horn) and a couple of the younger players. (Orlando) Franklin, the tackle, I talked to him a few times. Fortunately, now I’m back in Miami, and I do have an opportunity to follow a bit more closely. I have an opportunity to go over there and just hear what’s going on. Just get a few questions answered, go to the games, get on the sideline on Saturday, you know? You’ve always got to establish an attitude, like even the Virginia coach said it after the game. You can only take an ass kicking so many times, and it’s just a matter of standing there and just realizing, you’re just not gonna allow it anymore. That time is done. You cannot accept losing. For instance, I don’t want to say that they’re the joke, but every media outlet, every fan, and every kid across the country that wanted to go to the school, [were thinking] this school is a bad ass football team, and I want to be associated with this football team, and I don’t know if that’s the case anymore.
JS: Right, because Virginia was the most embarrassing loss during Randy Shannon’s tenure.
BR: There was one shining light. That kid (Stephen) Morris who came in. Granted, he did throw a couple picks, but for a young true Freshman to come in and do what he did, I thought that was pretty promising. It looks like we do have a possibility of a backup if something does happen to Jacory again, or as soon as Jacory’s gone.
JS: I think the biggest disservice Randy has done to Jacory is not giving him any competition at the position. When you guys were there, there was competition at every position.
BR: Apparently that’s one of the reasons Clinton Portis left (UM) early. Because Frank Gore was going to take the starting job before he blew his wheel out. And it was sad to say that Frank Gore was going to be the starter over Willis and Portis as a freshman. So, yeah there always is that young kid, or the athletes that just want it more. I remember talking to Frank (Gore) before he even committed to Miami, and talking to him about football, and the whole situation of why he should come to Miami. His main concern was getting his degree. He wanted to graduate because he promised his father figure on his death bed basically that he was going to get his degree; that he wanted to get his degree before he wanted to play on the football field. So, you have guys where the aspiration of going to the NFL will be there, but it’s not the number one reason why you’re going there. You have a desire for other things. You have a desire to become successful, and to not let anybody down. I think that just getting a scholarship to the University of Miami might be winning enough for some of these guys.
JS: What do you say, if the administration does indeed have the attitude where 7 wins and no arrests is a successful season?
BR: All I know is that the guys we won with weren’t exactly on the straight and narrow. We looked it. We acted it. We were great in the community. We put on this nice outside facade where we would shake your hand and take a picture with your kid. But when it came to the field and being with each other it was ‘throw down’ like anything I’ve ever seen. I’ve met guys that, shit, I probably saw on America’s Most Wanted. It was a breed that I’ve never, ever seen before. You got beat up if you didn’t run well enough in the offseason conditioning. You got whooped. It was not acceptable to bring the team down. The team was held to a certain standard. Even with talented guys like EJ, Reggie Wayne and Santana Moss, those guys ran 110 meter in 11 seconds and they did twenty of them in a row. And if you were the fat kid that couldn’t make your time at 18, you got pummeled in the locker room, because you cost everybody else the coach’s faith in you, if you want to call it that. And it didn’t even have to go all the way to the coaches. It had to go to the players. Just being accountable for that guy. If you did not accomplish what everybody else was accomplishing, you were cast out. You were not part of the group. And I don’t know how many guys on that team now are just riding that wave, and just wanna be on that football team, being able to go home and say, yeah I’m wearing my track suit that I got from the ‘dot com’ ‘cc,’” whatever the hell Bowl game they’ve been going to. You know what I mean? It ain’t about wearing the track suit. It’s about playing with the guy next to you. It’s about bleeding with the guy next to you. It’s about not letting him down. Have him go home and talk to his family about you. You know what I mean? Tell them how much of a bad ass this guy is that I play next to. That’s what I did! Four years of my college career, I just talked about how bad ass everybody else was.
JS: So the players need to hold themselves accountable, and these guys lack that?
BR: Yeah. Granted, Rob Chudzinski and Larry Coker were awesome coordinators. With the tools they had, they knew how to put everything together. But, you could have brought a high school coach in there once the ship was moving, and he could have accomplished pretty close to what we accomplished. It wasn’t about the coaches. Football is X’s and O’s. You’ve got your schemes and stuff like that, but half the kids out there don’t understand what it is anyway, and can’t comprehend blitz packaging and all that other crap. It’s just basically about you wanting to beat the guy in front of you, and not let him touch your ball-carriers and your playmakers. If you’re beating the crap about the one man that you’re assigned to beat the crap out of, then he’s not gonna touch your ball-carrier, which might not turn over the football, which even if you’re running down the field and the ball comes loose, you can be on top of it and recovering the fumble. I think it’s a cycle of events. It’s an attitude of sheer domination. If I could bottle it and sell it right now, it would be unbelievable.
JS: how do you get that back?
BR: I don’t know, to tell you the truth. Accountability is the one word that jumps out at me. It’s not having the coaches meeting called on Sunday after a game and listening to what the coaches have to say. Obviously it sounds really cliché, but it’s the guys just going in the room, the leader guys, which they’re lacking, obviously. Not talking about Jacory. Jacory has probably spoken to the team enough, and now it kind of becomes redundant, like okay we’ve heard this before, Jacory. It’s the guy who’s kind of been sitting in the wayside, and watching what’s going on; who really hasn’t had his shot yet to play, and him standing up and losing his mind at the team. Granted, everybody might be looking at him, like, who the hell is this guy, but, it will open eyes. It will be like, oh my god, what is this guy talking about right now? A guy who doesn’t have a biased opinion. Granted, yeah, he’d like to be on the field. But this guy has to stand up and open his mouth.
You can listen to the interview here.