YPSILANTI, Mich. — As a Michigan football player, Ron Bellamy judged progress in terms of both wins and losses and how he and his teammates developed within the program.
More than 15 years later, Bellamy considers the progress of the Wolverines from a different standpoint. He’s now a high school football coach.
He considers the bigger picture of what the Michigan football program stands for, especially in one of the more turbulent times in college athletics. His advice to Michigan football fans: After an 8-5 season in 2017, don’t dwell on the lack of wins. Consider the program’s values with fourth-year coach Jim Harbaugh at the helm.
“Be a program of integrity,” Bellamy, a wide receiver at Michigan from 1999 to 2002, said last week. “Be a program that develops model citizens. A program that develops your football players. And, most importantly, when these young men leave this football program and they go into the real world, just to be able to give back and show what that block M really stands for.”
Bellamy coaches football and teaches physical education at West Bloomfield (Mich.) High School. He was one of three current or former Michigan football players who participated in Dancing With the Michigan Stars on March 8, which benefited the ChadTough Foundation.
His expectations for the 2018 Wolverines include improvement, particularly on an offense which returns all but five starters. Bellamy, however, takes the approach of a teacher and of a coach when it comes to evaluating the Wolverines’ progress.
“Obviously, from a fan’s perspective, you look at the wins and losses, and that’s what you’re measured by,” Bellamy said. “But being a coach now, you ask, ‘are the kids getting better? Are the coaches developing the kids? Are the kids graduating? And are the kids receiving postseason honors?’
“There’s a lot for me, personally, as a coach and a former player, those things are very vital and important to me.”
What would Bellamy tell fans who are displeased with Michigan’s 8-5 record in 2017? All the fans tend to focus on are wins and losses, but the values the program continues to maintain, Bellamy said, are just as important.
“I look at some of the different things that are going around in our country today, with some of the other collegiate programs, whether it’s football or basketball, and there are black eyes,” Bellamy said. “It’s one of things where, can you balance it? What would you much rather? To win and do it shamelessly or to win and do it the right way?
“I think sometimes with fans, and I look at some of our fans at Michigan, and how we were getting on Michigan State about some of the things that have happened on their campus of late, and I look at the basketball team. If you go 29-4 and people aren’t talking about your 29 wins, they’re talking about what’s going on outside [the program]. That’s why I think the values at Michigan are important.”