The Times West Virginian

Local sports

June 24, 2006

No summer break for Mountaineers

MORGANTOWN — Mike Barwis can make the West Virginia University football players do whatever he wants whenever he wants within reason — and often beyond it.

How does he do it?

It isn’t the raspy voice that sounds like he swallowed a box of Brillo Pads.

It isn’t the abundant energy that seems like he chugged a Red Bull, then chased it with a Mountain Dew.

It isn’t the imposing physique that looks like he could suit up for the Mountaineers and fill in for Jay Henry, Marc Magro or any of the other linebackers.

It is the genuine affection he showers upon the players, especially after he has pushed them to extremes during summer workouts.

“In my opinion, a kid will never give you 110 percent unless he knows you love him and care about him,” Barwis said Tuesday afternoon during an interview inside the Milan Puskar Center. “That’s the bottom line. These kids know that they are my family and I love them.”

When he stopped talking, Barwis noticed Florida State transfer Barry Wright walking through the lobby and across the room. Wanting to provide proof to back up his statement, Barwis screamed at Wright.

“Barry,” Barwis yelled, “how often do I hug you guys?”

“All day,” Wright said with a laugh.

“See,” Barwis said.

“You have to respect somebody as much as they respect you to get them to do what you need them to do,” he added. “If you don’t truly care about a person, then you don’t truly have their best interests at heart.”

The Mountaineers are in the middle of their eight-week voluntary summer training program, which began May 30.

“It comes down to one thing: The kids have to be willing to do the work,” Barwis said. “All we do is supply them with the tools. The kids are the ones who have to have the pride, the ambition, the drive and the dedication to make themselves achieve. We have those kinds of kids.”

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