Q: Does it seem to be getting a little bit easier every week?
TB: A little bit, a little bit, just more comfortable with the schedule. There hasn't been a whole lot of free time lately. I am starting to plan for that now.
Q: How was your relationship with Brian Griese and how did that competition go? Did you keep in contact with him?
TB: Yeah, when I arrived at Michigan he was going on his third year. So being a couple of years older, I mean obviously he had all his friends but we had a pretty close group, us quarterbacks. Certainly I'd say he is a good friend of mine. I saw him this summer a couple of times and we keep in touch pretty…not too often, maybe once every couple months, but obviously I see how he is doing so it's not like there is too much to catch up on.
Q: Have you spoken with him since you have become the starter?
TB: I haven't talked to him. I haven't talked to him. I am sure at some point this week he'll be calling or I'll be calling him.
Q: Is Michigan a good system to cultivate a quarterback?
TB: I think so. I think so and the reason why is because from the time you are brought in, I think there is a lot expected of you both as a player on the field and as a person off the field in just dealing with certain responsibility. Our head coach put a lot of pressure on us to always be in the right place at the right time doing the right thing. So he, that's coach [Lloyd] Carr that I am talking about. So it was just about for me going out and dealing with his expectations and learning how to compete because there were six quarterbacks, seven quarterbacks when I first got there. So going out to compete every day and obviously once you do compete and you reach number one on the depth chart, you are dealing with a lot of good competition. You are playing with a lot of great players. You are playing against a lot of great teams in a big conference in front of a ton of people in championship games and bowl games and Rose Bowls and National Championship games. So there's a lot that goes on with that.
Q: Last week we spoke to Mike Riley and he said had to go to your house and tell you that there wasn't any room for you at USC?
Q: Disappointing, but you had already made your decision to go to Michigan or that was your backup?
TB: If you want to say that. Well, when I was recruited it was, the way it worked was, you try to narrow it down to the schools you are really looking at and then you have to either commit to a school or not. There was a guy who had committed to USC and decided to go there and I guess you could say I fell back on Michigan.
Q: Worked out well?
TB: It sure did.
Q: What did you learn from Griese in college?
TB: Brian lost his mother when he was I think six or eight years old to cancer. So he grew up real hardened. He hardened his personality and mentally he is as tough as they come. He's a very disciplined person, extremely hard working who gets every ounce of athletic ability out of himself and not to say that he's not great athletically because he certainly is. He's really learned how to really hone his own game so he can go out and perform as best he can. He's as tough a competitor as I've ever been around and like I said, mentally tough. Those would probably be his two best characteristics.
Q: Did that rub off on you or were you already mentally tough?
TB: It sure did. I learned that from him and I learned that from competing with him. I learned that from my head coach there and a lot of my friends. You know it was just one of those things where he battled and fought as hard as he could. When he went to Michigan he was a walk-on and people were telling him, he came in and played and people were saying, 'Oh Brian, you are terrible and you'll never be like your dad.' And he proved everybody wrong and he still is proving people wrong. He's an excellent player.
Q: Nothing he does now surprises you?
TB: Nothing. I would never bet against him. He's a great competitor. He never gives in. You can never convince him that he can't do anything, I know that. He's got great confidence.
Q: Did he talk about his father a lot? Was he around?
TB: His dad came around as much as he could. He was a broadcaster, so he probably had maybe three or four Michigan games a year being the number one ABC team. So he was around. He'd come out to practice. We'd have dinner. He's a neat guy.
Q: Was Brian ahead of the game because of his father's tutoring over the years? As soon as you met him did know that's the reason, he's Bob Griese's son?
TB: Not really. You wouldn't have thought. I am sure it wore off on him in some aspects as it is now. I think as he's grown older, I mean I don't want to speak for him, but I would think if my father was in that position he would have some great insight into what you are probably facing.
Q: Were you disappointed when he beat you out or did you figure, 'I'm just a kid and he's been here three years?'
TB: Well I think you are always a little disappointed, but at the same time I mean my approach was that if whoever was going to win was going to be, the team was going to be that much better off. The coaches have their idea of the way things ought to shake out and Brian really convinced them that that season and we really competed from the day we got there, it wasn't just one year. It was every year. Every day at Michigan there was competition on the practice field, when we'd race and do running sprints, I mean it was always that way.
Q: You talked before about how losing that job in '97 changed your approach. Can you talk about that?
TB: Sure. I think because I wasn't successful at that point I just reevaluated the different approach that I should have taken and it was just to not worry about how Brian played or worry about how Scott Dreisbach played, but just to worry about how I was playing. And that helped me with my competition later down the road. And that's always going to be what I am going to fall back on. It's about how I play and how I perform and not how anyone else performs because they have that to deal with. I don't want to be dealing with how they're playing.
Q: To what degree would you and Brian share information? I mean he was still a rival, was he aloof?
TB: I mean you are supporting the guy that's out there and you are helping as much as you can. I mean the goal is winning. We were on the same team at that time. I mean you are never rooting against a teammate. You've got those other guys on the other side of the ball trying to take your head off. The last thing he needs is another guy in that same situation trying to attack him.
Q: What about now, are there things that you can tell the coaching staff about him that might help this team?
TB: I am sure coach Belichick's got a good understanding of what he can do.
Q: You don't have any special information?
TB: No, nothing he probably doesn't already know.
Q: He had a leg up on you at Michigan. Does it at all enter into this that it is chance for you to get a leg up on him this weekend?
TB: Not one bit, not one bit. I mean I am worried about our offense you know, and I'll let our defense worry about their offense. They've got an excellent offense and we saw a few clips of them this morning. I mean he's a great player and I'm sure that defense knows, I mean there are guys that have played with him. Terrell Buckley was with Denver last year and knows a lot about them. They've got quite a challenge ahead of them.
Q: I'm sure you talked to him when he took over in Denver, and it is a different situation here, but do you kind of look to the way he handled that?
TB: It was a different situation with him. There was that thought about Bubby Brister and he really stepped in. You know he was real good friends with Bubby so, you know I don't know a whole lot about that situation. I just know that he's continued to work as hard as he could at making himself a good player.
Q: You said you will probably talk this week. How will that go? Will you talk trash?
TB: I am sure there will be some trash, but hopefully it will be friendly.
Q: Who talks better?
TB: I think we both get our shots in. We've been going back and forth. I think we know each other pretty well.
Q: Did you ever have a sense in college that he felt pressure because his father had achieved so much?
TB: I don't know, that would probably be a good question to ask him.
Q: What do you see on film of them defensively?
TB: They're a very active defense. I think they've got some very strong linebackers with [John] Mobley and [Bill] Romanowski and Al Wilson. Their secondary is very, very athletic and a real good defensive line. They've got a very good defense. They are good on third downs. They do some things to confuse you. So it is going to be a good test for us.
Q: As things go well with this team and as confidence grows how do you keep the adrenaline in check?
TB: Because you realize that every week it is going to be a different challenge. So it is not that you get too over confident and think that, 'Oh, we can't go out and lose or we can't be exposed.' Believe me when we watched that game against Indianapolis there's a lot of things we could have done better and that's the stuff we've got to continue to build on because we are only 3-3 and we've got a long ways to go. There's ten games left and there's still a lot for this team to prove.