How to “Fix” Michigan Recruiting

How to “Fix” Michigan Recruiting

May 26, 2020
Jim Harbaugh

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The title of this article implies that Michigan recruiting needs to be fixed. How terrible is it? Let’s take a look at class rankings during the Jim Harbaugh era using the 247 Composite rankings:

2015 (Harbaugh/Hoke combined class): #37 overall, #5 in Big Ten
2016: #8 overall, #2 in Big Ten
2017: #5 overall, #2 in Big Ten
2018: #22 overall, #3 in Big Ten
2019: #8 overall, #1 in Big Ten
2020: #14 overall, #2 in Big Ten
*2021: #6 overall, #2 in Big Ten (as of May 25, 2020)
AVERAGE: #11.4 overall, #2 in Big Ten

*Not included in averages

Not counting the 2015 combined class when Harbaugh had just one month to try to make up ground, he has averaged the #11 class in the country and finished as either #1, #2, or #3 class in the conference. It’s noteworthy that they have not finished behind any team from the Big Ten West during that time – only Ohio State and/or Penn State.

Hit the jump to see how I would go about improving Michigan’s recruiting.

#1. Offer Top-100 Recruits

First of all, I’m not a stars-are-everything guy. There are 4-stars I don’t love, and there are 3-stars I really like. You almost always need elite players to compete for the College Football Playoff, but I don’t think a team of middling 4-stars is necessarily superior to a squad with a mix of a couple 5-stars and a bunch of 3-stars.

It’s not poor practice to have someone on the staff who keeps track of top-100 recruiting rankings, regardless of what service is being used. The rankings are updated a few times a year, and part of a staff member’s job should be to peruse those lists. Who’s moving up in the rankings? What previously undiscovered player is shooting up in the rankings? Who’s dominating the camp circuit or national 7-on-7 tournaments? This doesn’t mean you put all 100 of your eggs in this particular basket, but it’s a good place to concentrate.

Every top-100 player should have an offer from Michigan unless a) there are serious character/criminal/academic concerns or b) the player simply doesn’t fit the scheme in any way. And those issues in letter “b” are rare, in my opinion, because schemes are often flexible. Michigan might not offer a Jacob Eason-type player if they want a quarterback who can run, for example.

Task #1: Assign a recruiting department staffer to follow 247 Sports, Rivals, and ESPN. Names of “new” additions to those lists should be passed along to the position coach and area recruiter for review.

#2. Hire a Native Detroit/Michigan Recruiter

Keep in mind that I’m not a reporter digging for information, so I don’t go wading in with 20 questions on stuff that you might if you worked for a publication. But in speaking with a Detroit-area high school coach during COVID-19, I was told that Michigan has lost traction within the state because they do not have a native area recruiter. It gives the impression that Jim Harbaugh is not prioritizing the state and rewarding local guys.

Detroit is a tight-knit area. There are a few areas of the country like this, but there’s a lot of “old blood” in the Detroit Metro area. Some of the recruiting hotspots around the country also have a ton of “mercenaries for hire.” Places like California and Texas have coaches that bounce around, take jobs as a means to move up the ladder, etc. It’s a college atmosphere in some places. That’s not the way it is in Michigan. Nobody’s taking a job in Detroit as a one- or two-year mercenary hire so they can get the next big-money job at Rockford or River Rouge.

The most noteworthy Michigan-area recruiter is Sherrone Moore, who is well liked and respected, but he doesn’t have Detroit roots. (Moore graduated high school in Kansas, played at Oklahoma, and coached at Louisville before ending up at CMU in 2014 and then Michigan in 2018.) Recruiting coordinator Matt Dudek is a Pennsylvania native who has spent time at Pitt, Rutgers, and Arizona before landing at Michigan. Others on the staff have roots in other places, and even Jim Harbaugh – though he’s a Michigan legend – has spent much of his time in places like California, along with moving around the country (Ohio, Iowa, etc.) with his father Jack’s coaching career.

The staff needs someone like Tyrone Wheatley (who graduated from Dearborn Robichaud) or Chris Singletary (Detroit DePorres), both of whom have moved on in the relatively recent past; Wheatley is now head coach at Morgan State, and Singletary is working for Element Sports, a sports management company. I’m not suggesting that Michigan needs to re-hire those people, but it would be preferable to get someone on the staff who has extensive experience within the state.

Task #2: Hire a native Michigander, a native Detroiter, or at least a Michigan alum the next time a staff position opens.

#3. Gamble on Athletic Freaks

There are numerous cases each year of players who were undersized but very athletic who grow into star players, whether it’s on the college level or even going into the NFL draft. It often takes small schools or programs that have a hard time recruiting at elite levels to take advantage of those raw athletes, because in some ways, they don’t have a choice. Adam Trautman, from Elk Rapids High School near Traverse City, went to Dayton and became a 3rd round pick by the Saints (article, highlights). It’s easy to say in retrospect that Michigan should have recruited him, but the truth is that he may not have become the player he is if he played at Michigan. Some kids need to have a chip on their shoulder for not having been recruited, and some kids just need a smaller pond in which to flourish. If you spend three years buried on the depth chart while bulking up at Michigan, are you still around in year four and five for your breakout? Probably not.

Trautman admittedly isn’t the greatest example because he didn’t have elite athleticism in high school, but it’s a recent and relatively high-profile case. It took a change of position (quarterback to wide receiver to tight end) to turn him into the Adam Trautman we see today. But there are some other Michigan-related examples in recent years, such as Jeremy Clark (6’4″ Michigan CB/S drafted by the Jets), Taco Charlton (raw recruit whom Michigan helped turn into a 1st round pick), and Zach Gentry (6’7″ athletic QB drafted in 5th round as a TE) who have higher upside than run-of-the-mill 3-stars.

Mediocre players with mediocre size and mediocre athleticism tend to be mediocre. There can be a recognizable floor with some of those guys. If you take a 6’2″, 275 lb. defensive tackle who’s not particularly explosive, you might be able to teach him the technique and make him stronger, but that ceiling is already in place. You can get away with a couple mediocre players on a field, but coaches and the other players can only make up for so much.

Task #3: Prioritize athleticism over length and length over weight. You can fill out weight and teach technique; you can’t add height or teach speed.


There are elite programs across the country who put out elite players year after year. Michigan needs to make their presence felt in those schools and paper the locker rooms with scholarship offers. These schools include but are not limited to:

  • Scottsdale (AZ) Saguaro
  • Bellflower (CA) St. John Bosco
  • Santa Ana (CA) Mater Dei
  • Thousand Oaks (CA) Westlake
  • Fort Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas
  • Hollywood (FL) Chaminade-Madonna
  • Loganville (GA) Grayson
  • Norcross (GA) Greater Atlanta Christian
  • Baltimore (MD) St. Francis
  • Hyattsville (MD) DeMatha
  • Belleville (MI) Belleville
  • Detroit (MI) Cass Tech
  • Oradell (NJ) Bergen Catholic
  • Ramsey (NJ) St. Peter’s Prep

Michigan is absolutely recruiting these schools to a certain extent, but some are being treated as longshot schools. The coaches seem to be going in and saying, “Hey, you can come to our school if you want, but we’re not going to spend a lot of time trying to convince you.”

Michigan is taking guys from New Jersey (Rashan Gary, Jabrill Peppers), Florida (Devin Bush, Jr.), and Ohio (Taco Charlton) and turning them into 1st round draft picks. And while Gary and Peppers were elite-level recruits, Bush (too short!) and Charlton (too raw!) needed to develop and prove themselves on a big stage like Michigan’s, which they did. The staff needs to name-drop and play up those NFL/draft successes as much as possible, because Tom Brady is nearing retirement and the other guys representing Michigan have not established themselves as recognizable stars, no matter how much we love Brandon Graham, Taylor Lewan, and others.

Task #4: Build inroads at powerhouse schools across the country. Coaches should be visiting those schools regularly and staying in contact with those players.


This goes somewhat hand-in-hand with #1 (offering top-100 recruits), but Michigan has been late to offer many recruits. Yes, there are some players who get their first offer from Michigan, so it’s not like the Wolverines are afraid to go out on a limb. But especially with top-100 recruits, those players need to be offered early. The recruiting sites release their top 100, top 247, top 300, etc. lists a couple years in advance of National Signing Day for that class. It’s fine to offer a breakout player after his junior year or find a diamond in the rough late, but those should be exceptions.

247 Sports released their top 247 for the class of 2022 in March. Michigan has offered several of those recruits in the top 50 or so, but then the offers start to thin out. Michigan does have stricter standards for education, so there are more roadblocks to getting into the university and succeeding there. But just because you offer, say, the #10 player in the country doesn’t mean he’s going to be interested, commit, or be accepted. If you offer the #10 guy but he has a C+ average and just wouldn’t be able to hack it in Ann Arbor, move on to the next recruit. Yes, that “offer” might seem disingenuous, but there’s that saying, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” If you never offer a kid, that door is closed, even if he steps up his efforts in the classroom.

Task #5: Aim to offer elite players after their sophomore year.


This is low on the priority list, but it’s also something that absolutely can and should be fixed. Michigan used to have some of the best graphics designers in the country working the recruiting department.

The graphics department is still good at this stuff:

Rocco Spindler

But there have been a lot of misfires with this 2021 class, such as this lame “On a Michin” effort…

…and another I can’t find, probably because it has been wiped from the internet.

There was an article on 247 Sports about the edits, and Michigan didn’t exactly get a ringing endorsement, though that was based on just one picture (LINK).

Task #6: Keep the finger on the pulse of the youth. Ask student assistants, players, etc. for feedback on mock-ups before sending out waves of so-so designs.


Michigan is doing some of these things, but not enough, in my opinion. They wouldn’t be who they are without paying attention to these details to a certain extent. So I can’t sit here and say that if they did all these things that yours truly said, they would shoot up to #1 in the rankings. But if I were hired as Michigan’s head coach (which would be stupid on their part), these are some of the things I would evaluate and restructure early on before they came to their senses, fired me, and lured Lincoln Riley away from Oklahoma.


  1. Comments: 400
    Joined: 12/24/2016
    May 26, 2020 at 1:49 PM

    Well, due to the Covid – 19 thing and the fact I’ve had some personal involvement on a medical level with that; its been awhile since I’ve posted tho I’ve generally lurked in the background on a semi regular basis. This topic is EXACTLY the reason why I joined this site some years back and in that regard I think its about 5 years over due…….. at least 4.

    While I agree very much with most of the content in this thread topic, I’m going to start with what I disagree with the most and then I’ll try to contribute what I think is something meaningful to much of the rest of the numbered items……..

    Item # 2 – Hire a native Detroit/Michigan recruiter.
    While I’m ALL FOR hiring someone from Michigan – the state; to recruit Michigan – the state I’m totally against this person being explicitly a “Native Detroiter”. IF the best person for the job happens to be , coincidentally happens to be a native Detroiter, then I’m all for it. BUT to simply say HAS TO BE is just plain stupid – imo.

    Michigan – the University, as far as football recruiting goes needs to distance itself from Detroit – the City; not the Metropolitian Area, perse’ . The Greater Detroit Metro Area as defined by the US Federal Census bureau is a very well populated area. So Thunder, IF you want to say that this Michigan – the state, recruiter should be from the Greater Detroit Metro area; then I prolly don’t have a problem with that. But when you assert such a designated Michigan – the state recruiter should be a Native Detroiter. This is just not something I can go along with.

    Mostly cause Detroit is a DYing City and has been for quite sometime. Losing population at about 15 thousand to 20,000 people annually. Today El Paso Tx has about 100,000 more people than the city of Detroit. Frum its heyday of about 50 or 60 years ago when Detroit had about 1.8 million people to todays population of less than 650,000. I won’t live long enough to see it but prolly in 20 or 25 years at most from now, Grand Rapids will be the largest city in the state of Michigan. Detroit? Prolly a population half of what it is now. – at best.

    On a side note, frankly, I’m surprised that the Tigers & Lions contiune to buil’d stadiums in the fuking hole of a town called Detroit. The Tigers, especially; If I were the owner, I would do eveything I could to move that franchise to San Antonio, Texas population 1.8 million and still growing by leaps & bounds.

    The University of Michigan Football recruiting needs to distance itself as far as it can from, as I repeat, the fuking scum dirt hole of a city that Detroit is, will continue to be until the place is completely dead, buried, removed from Life Support, etc…… once & for all.
    Page 2 to follow………….. Thanx, INTJohn

    • Comments: 3844
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      May 27, 2020 at 9:09 AM

      When I’m talking about Detroit, I’m not just sticking to the City of Detroit. I’m talking about the Detroit Metro area.

      The Lions, Tigers, etc. are doing okay financially, as far as I know. I don’t see any reason to move. Yes, there are larger populations elsewhere, but teams don’t just go by size. There’s a ton of history and an emotional connection to the area. You wouldn’t have that in San Antonio if you just moved those franchises.

      San Antonio is #7 in population but with only the Spurs.
      San Jose is #10 in population but with only the Sharks.
      Austin is #11 and has no major pro teams.

      Smaller cities than Detroit with one or more pro sports teams: Oklahoma City, Las Vegas, Portland, Memphis, Baltimore, Milwaukee, Sacramento, Atlanta, Kansas City, Miami, Oakland, Minneapolis, Tampa, Arlington, New Orleans, Cleveland, Anaheim, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Orlando, Buffalo, Green Bay, Salt Lake City…

      • Comments: 400
        Joined: 12/24/2016
        May 27, 2020 at 10:17 AM

        The Lions & Tigers are doing well $$$$!!!$$$$$ because of TV revenue as are ALL of the major professional sports. BUT since you’ve brought into the discussion “the emotional connection” you would have that with baseball in San Antonio because MLB, today, is DOMINATED by Latin American players , has been for sometime really – so a San Antonio Emotional connection to Tigers baseball would immediately be off the charts; do I need to elaborate on this?

        Also, your reference to those other cities – outside of Cleveland – same geo area as Detroit and is also the only othe major US city that is Dying like Detroit; well none of those other cities are dying cities and as far as California towns? lol I’ve spent a lot of time in SoCal area and no one in Southern California (on a per capits basis) really even gives a damn about football
        You are pulling your own subject matter off topic so I won’t elaborate anymore but if you would care to discuss this; Lions & Tigers & Dororthy oh my! Make a new topic on it & I’ll be glad to jump in the corral.

        Part 2; You explicitly write “Native Detroiter” at least twice and to any reader this powerfully infers City of Detroit; especially when you use Wheatley, etc and refer to respective Detroit schools. But you also mention & refer to the Metro area so you are at least trying a veiled attempt to cover your tracks. I’ll give you that tho I think you’re in “bad form” .

        The real issue, tho, is – of having a strong in state dedicated recruiting person – is in fact spot on! But you err geographically regarding the state. The state needing a dedicated UM recruiter is someone with direct ties not only with the state of OHIO but also to OSU as well. To get some of that talent away from OSU, like previous coaches, Bo, Moeller could do. Then Michigan will have a much better overall improved capacity & capability to beat OSU. As the Burge man below has written and anyone else already know; getting by OSU is the real issue here.

        Harbaugh has lagged way behind in this regard – getting enough decent talent from the statue of Ohio and it will not improve if someone on the Michigan staff doesn’t make massive headway soon in this regard, making Ohio recruiting inroads. Its not going to get easier, either, as long as Fickell is at Cincy and continues to post double digit winning records as the Bearcats HC………

        • Comments: 3844
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          May 27, 2020 at 10:30 AM

          I mean, Wheatley went to and coached Dearborn Heights (MI) Robichaud, which is specifically NOT Detroit – it’s Dearborn Heights. And he was born in Inkster. So if we’re really splitting hairs, you’re wrong.

          I’m personally not interested into parsing every single tiny thing mentioned here, but I disagree with your notion that I’m trying to be disingenuous or whatever due to semantics. If somebody says he’s from L.A. but was born in Pasadena, I’m not going to bat an eyelash.

          • Comments: 400
            Joined: 12/24/2016
            May 27, 2020 at 12:20 PM

            You’re the one who keeps going on with it splitting hairs about it and basically going off on a tangent on your own fuking blog & thread topic.

            THE point is UofM doesn’t need a dedicated recruiter to recruit the state of Michigan , Lower Peninsula, SE Michigan, Fukin Detroit or the corner of 8 mile & Dequindre………..

            What it needs is a dedicated recruiter with strong OSU ties to recruit the state of OHIO.

            I had a lot of other stuff I kiinda wanted to add post re the other numbered items but if you want to turn your own blog into a “I’m right your wrong” about shit that doesn’t even pertain to your own damn blog topics
            Good Bye.

            • Comments: 3844
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              May 27, 2020 at 12:48 PM

              LOL. You came here ranting about “You said Native Detroiter and I know what you meant better than you do” and no, in fact, you don’t.

              That doesn’t mean I’m right about everything. But I am 100% right about my own thoughts. You can’t come here and start telling me what I intended to say, especially if you start misrepresenting facts when you do it. Wheatley’s not from Detroit proper, so don’t say I was specifically talking about people born within Detroit’s city limits while using Wheatley as an example.

            • Comments: 5
              Joined: 5/7/2020
              May 27, 2020 at 2:06 PM

              “THE point is UofM doesn’t need a dedicated recruiter to recruit the state of Michigan , Lower Peninsula, SE Michigan, Fukin Detroit or the corner of 8 mile & Dequindre………..

              What it needs is a dedicated recruiter with strong OSU ties to recruit the state of OHIO.”

              Looking at the 2020 class of incoming recruits, every single player UofM got from the state of Michigan is ranked higher than their counterpart in Ohio. And for the most part, not even that close.
              SDE: Braden Mcgregor #5 at position nationally.
              Highest rated in Ohio? Brandon Taylor, # 26 at position nationally.
              CB: Andre Seldon # 10
              From OH? Sammy Anderson #38
              S: Makari Paige #25 (Jordan Morant is rated higher, but just comparing MI kids to OH kids here)
              From OH? Ricky Hyatt # 55
              ILB: Cornell Wheeler # 22
              From OH? Daved Jones #54

              Looking at the top rated recruit from UofM at each position in the 2020 class. There were 2 positions in which Michigan took a kid from somewhere else in the country that was rated lower than a guy from Ohio.
              OT: #1 OT in the country, Paris Johnson Jr out of Cincinnati went to OSU.
              Paris Johnson Sr. was in a recruiting position at MSU and followed Narduzzi to Pitt.
              The other position is TE. UofM took # 12 ranked Matthew Hibner.
              #10 ranked Luke Lachey grew up in Columbus and went to Iowa. It doesn’t appear Michigan offered.

    • Comments: 2
      Joined: 2/27/2018
      May 28, 2020 at 12:55 PM

      Your criticism of Magnus’ post is all over the place. Initially you support a state of Michigan specific recruiter just not Detroit because it’s dying. Then after trading inane comments about differences between Detroit proper and Metro Detroit you make comments highlighting El Paso which have absolutely no relevance to football recruiting. Then later in comments you switch your vitriol to the entire state of Michigan and want a Ohio focused recruiter with OSU ties. If only Harbaugh would have tried that (see Al Washington). Harbaugh has constantly evolved and tried fixing things that weren’t working. Results are still out (see Josh Gattis and a totally different offensive mindset that he’d been successful in the past) but he has proven to be analytical and adaptable. That’s all I can ask personally.

      If I was in Austin like you I’d be wondering more about the savior Tom Herman and how Texas has done with much more talent available and no more success. Or Jimbo at A&M, or all the Fla schools who have gone from dominating college football 15 yrs ago to various levels of struggling. Have some perspective.

  2. Comments: 400
    Joined: 12/24/2016
    May 26, 2020 at 4:47 PM

    truth hurts don’t it?! thank you for the red arrow down whoever gave it to me & I hope I get more – a lot more! I’m not running for congress, senate , governor or president so I don’t give a shit about getting your fuking approval and I’ve also never given a fuk about Democracy either, in general, but thats a topic I explore & discuss on other sites not a mere superficial entertaining football recruiting blog……….

    Now, back to the title, “HOW TO FIX………”; as op stated, infers it needs to be fixed……. But it should also address, CAN IT BE FIXED or should it even be “fixed”. Maybe there’s not a damn thing ‘wrong’ with it in the first place. 2 more ??’s the op fails to address but alludes too, but we can all jump in & have a philosophical football cluster fuk about it , can’t we? Right here! Right fuking Now! Gutless bastards most of you are………

    But first a commentary:
    The University of Michigan is the only bright light still emanating from SE Michigan. From a football recruiting perspective this makes recruiting to Michigan a difficult task. SOoooo Harbaugh’s results may in fact be as good as anyone can do which , of course, means THERE IS NOTHING TO FIX! the ceiling has been attained. Hard to accept this concept tho, cause well nothing is ever ‘perfect’ ; there’s always something that can be ‘improved’ upon, blah blah blah but never the less idealistic perfection vs practical reality are , well, generally 2 totaly different things.

    I’ve never been one to embrace ‘idealistic perfection’; but if one doesn’t work at it often times they will never realize practical limits……. you idiots out there still with me?
    So lets go on with forgetting Detroit, etc and focusing on that which is the only reason(s) some potential out of state or in state football recruit would consider Michigan – the University, football program with which to commit, attend, etc……. vs The Competition…………
    More to come dipsh***; I’m just getting started
    INTJohnny Luzsha, alway have; alway will

    Then I’ll return to

    • Comments: 522
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      May 27, 2020 at 11:42 AM

      “Harbaugh’s results may in fact be as good as anyone can do which , of course, means THERE IS NOTHING TO FIX! the ceiling has been attained.”

      I’m somewhat sympathetic to this line of argument. Where I differ: I think we are *near* the ceiling, but not *at* it.

      When the college football playoff system was devised, I thought then — and I am more convinced today — that a window would start to close, and those teams that got in before the window closed would see the playoffs fairly frequently, and those that did *not* get in before the window closed would rarely, if ever, see the playoff. I think the window is mostly closed now, and I don’t think Michigan made it into the “elite” teams.

      Michigan’s ceiling is most likely *not* the national championship. But I think their ceiling is above where they are right now. I think Michigan’s ceiling is where they’re beating OSU about 1 time out of 3 or 4 attempts, along with winning the games they should: MSU, anyone in the west, and PSU most of the time.

      But to get into the playoffs looks more and more like it takes a perfect 12-0 if the team is coming out of anywhere but the SEC, and to *win* the playoffs requires an offense with a more capable QB and receivers than Michigan has had in the Harbaugh era. And to stay in games where the other team has offensive firepower, Michigan’s defensive line has to be much, much better than it’s been since Hurst, Winovich, and Gary were in there.

      I wish it were otherwise. I wish we had nothing but bright prospects in front of us.

  3. Comments: 22
    Joined: 11/23/2015
    May 26, 2020 at 5:13 PM

    I feel like you forgot the most important thing. Beat OSU…

    No one remember who got second in the Olympics in the 100m. UM is recruiting pretty well, but has lost a lot of battles after losing to OSU. If they perform on the field it will be all good.

    Also, after your mitten project why are you so concerned with recruiting Michigan? Not to say there aren’t any valuable players coming out of the state, but we get our share and that works just fine.

    We didn’t pull Buddin, but we got better… There aren’t many players that didn’t come to UM that we have missed that much, potentially Barnett at MSU. Usually we can replace them with equivalent or better out of state players. Oddly enough PSU is doing better in Michigan than Penn. we only hear a lot of good things about them here. They are doing worse in state than UM is.

    • Comments: 3844
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      May 27, 2020 at 9:18 AM

      I think “win more games” is pretty well understood by everyone. Winning is good for recruiting. Losing is bad.

      Michigan “gets its share,” but things do not seem to be trending in the right direction. Michigan has also missed out on a few guys that most people think are pretty good, including Barnett, Dobbs, Payne, the King brothers, etc. If Michigan wants them, they should be able to get them.

      Even if there’s not much elite talent in Michigan, you still have to keep your recruiting base and make the locals happy. All things being equal on the field and in the classroom, I would take a Detroit kid over a kid from Tennessee or Alabama. The locals are the ones who are going to come to the games, tailgate, buy Michigan stuff, etc., and they’re the ones paying the taxes to help run the in-state schools.

  4. Comments: 82
    Joined: 1/10/2017
    May 26, 2020 at 8:56 PM

    I like #3. TTB wrote:

    “Prioritize athleticism over length and length over weight.”

    I very much agree. I suppose that’s going to make a certain kind of Michigan fan (who obsessively and insecurely fixates on size) nervous. “Speed is fine an all that, but you gotta be ready for the Wisconsins of the world. If you’re TOO SMALL you’ll get runned over.”

  5. Comments: 1863
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    May 26, 2020 at 10:03 PM

    This is too organized a list for Harbaugh. Just not the way he thinks (unless it’s an open letter to the NCAA/NFL)

  6. Comments: 522
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    May 27, 2020 at 6:34 AM

    I would add something about fixing Harbaugh’s lack of interest.

    That’s not saying he’s DIS-interested; but he’s definitely not the same level of involvement he was in 2015 and 2016.

    It’s a very subjective thing, and thus hard to quantify. But there’s definitely something about the program that feels slightly adrift. It’s not as bad as Michigan State, which is a mess; but there’s not the focus of the top-tier schools. At the present rate of things, Michigan may not even be at the top of the next lower level, but rather a team bumping around in the high-middle of the B-team pack.

    I’m not advocating for a coaching change, but I am wishing for someone to re-light Harbaugh’s fire. Before you can implement means (your list of things), there has to be intent; before intent can be effective there has to be vision. I’m not convinced Harbaugh has the vision right now.

    • Comments: 3844
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      May 27, 2020 at 9:21 AM

      I don’t really buy that this is an issue. Yes, I think Harbaugh’s demeanor has changed on the sideline in the past few years, but I’m not convinced that it’s affecting the team in a negative way.

      • Comments: 522
        Joined: 8/12/2015
        May 27, 2020 at 10:57 AM

        For what it’s worth, I’m not speaking of just the sideline antics, or the recruiting sleepovers, and stuff like that. It’s more a totality thing: the drifting of the recruiting focus (the subject of your post); the somewhat unfocused staffing decisions; the lack of focus in bowl games (particularly the loss to South Carolina in 2018, and the thumping by Florida in the 2019); and the shaky nature of road games. The trend line from 2015/2016 to now is a wavering, slightly downhill slant.

        I realize there’s disagreement on this, and I fully confess it’s just an opinion and a not popular one at that. Time will tell whether my viewpoints bear out.

  7. Comments: 1
    Joined: 5/27/2020
    May 27, 2020 at 12:09 PM

    Interestingly enough, I was having beers at a brewery outside of Austin on Monday, and was talking to a guy who played for Lake Travis High School a couple years ago… as LT is a Texas powerhouse, I was interested in his experience with Michigan. He said he never saw them. OSU pulled a 5star out of Lake Travis HS a couple years ago (Garrett Wilson), who never saw a Michigan recruiter. This is a kid who is a high-character, high-academics WR that we should have been all over, and by all accounts was never offered anything shady by OSU. It’s gonna kill me to watch Garrett Wilson torch us in the coming years.

    I know Texas is a huge state, but c’mon. At least target some of the powerhouses who have multiple D1 prospects every year, like LT and Westlake (also in Austin, where Drew Brees and Nick Foles went).

    • Comments: 1863
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      May 28, 2020 at 12:08 AM

      DonAZ is onto something. Others have said it for a couple years now, and most everyone else is coming around

  8. Comments: 3
    Joined: 5/27/2020
    May 27, 2020 at 12:26 PM

    Great blog Thunder. Thanks for all your effort in new content and restrained, measured, and thoughtful comments.

    Two questions:
    (1) What do recruits mean by ‘developing relationships’ with coaches. Presumably, recruits understand that coaches move around a lot and that coaches are known for saying one thing before signing day and doing something else after signing day. If so, is the ‘developing relationship’ bit just cheap talk and really the recruits are committing to a program?

    2) How much of our presumed performance ceiling is driven by Michigan’s desire to produce student athletes and not simply football players? Many schools (e.g., OSU and most SEC schools), seem to have transitioned toward a model where they develop football players similar to how Chelsea develops soccer players or the USOC develops Olympians. Thus, they can tell truthfully tell recruits that their academic requirements will be very minimal online courses and, accordingly, the recruit is allowed/expected to spend all of his spare time on football stuff. (Think of comments J. Fields and Joe Burrow made about their interactions with OSU and LSU students.) I’d imagine if your aspirations are the NFL and you never cared about classic literature and calculus, Michigan’s pitch is less desirable than, say, Auburn’s.

    • Comments: 3844
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      May 27, 2020 at 2:36 PM

      1. I think players know that coaches move around, but it’s hard to separate from the program itself. I think you can take a coach’s personality and project it to the program itself. If a coach is funny and personable and friendly, I think you can probably assume he fits in with the rest of the coaching staff. That coach isn’t likely to be on a staff with a bunch of hardasses. And for all the talk about coaches leaving after NSD, that’s the exception, not the norm. The vast majority of coaches stick around for at least a year after a recruit gets on campus. That’s the nature of life. I have some former players who work at Home Depot, and they were just telling me about their new store manager who’s not the same person that hired them last year. Turnover exists in every walk of life. So I think when kids commit to a coach, they’re often committing to what that coaches and those coaches stand for, which is the program in general.

      2. It’s hard to quantify how much of Michigan’s performance ceiling is driven by the student-athlete thing. I know this: Michigan has a lot to sell (alumni base, nice campus, biggest stadium, respected degree, nice facilities, etc.). So you have to think: Well, what’s stopping Michigan from getting over the hump? There are certainly things to consider (coaching, recruiting, talent evaluation, fan support, etc.) rather than just one magic bullet of an answer. I try not to be a homer about these things, but I do think Michigan’s academics/ethics work against the football program. Does it hurt them by 1%, 5%, 10%, 20%? I don’t know. I don’t think it’s too absurd to say that Michigan is probably hurt 5% by that, meaning if they go 70-30 over 100 games, they could probably be 75-25 if they lowered their standards.

      • Comments: 3
        Joined: 5/27/2020
        May 27, 2020 at 3:34 PM

        Compounding the effects that academic requirements on recruiting, I wonder the effect that having to ‘play skool’ has on actual football performance. You could make the case players are less likely to make coverage mistakes against OSU, for example, if they don’t need to also worry about making mistakes on their Chem 130 exam. It’s impossible to know for sure, but my sense is that all of these little elements have combined to increase the divide between us and OSU over the past 10 years and lower the margin of error our coaches and players have in tight games.

        • Comments: 1863
          Joined: 1/19/2016
          May 28, 2020 at 12:15 AM

          I don’t buy that. Harbaugh wants to win – he’s still the same competitive MF – but (IMO) not as laser focused as the elite HC of CFB

          And MICHIGAN has the same academic requirements as ohio, and other schools in our way. Its players want to get to the League as much as buckeyes and others. They’re just not as talented, and haven’t accomplished nearly as much on the field

          • Comments: 3
            Joined: 5/27/2020
            May 28, 2020 at 12:53 PM

            I think all Big Ten schools have the same minimum requirements. Classroom expectations, however, vary significantly across institutions. (For example, Econ 401 at Michigan is very different in rigor than any intermediate or advanced micro class taught at OSU.)
            Its also interesting to compare the daily campus experiences of Denard Robinson discussed in Three and Out (excerpts available on the internet, e.g. WSJ) vs. the daily campus experiences of Justin Fields (excerpts available on elevenwarriors’ website). Fields has really no classroom experience, only online learning, Netflix binges, and football.
            Obviously, this isn’t the only thing that explains differences on on-field performance, but it’s hard to tell a story for why it wouldn’t matter to some degree.

  9. Comments: 20
    Joined: 6/19/2020
    Jun 21, 2020 at 10:59 PM

    Hard agree on #3. I’m still agitated that we let Jonathan Taylor go to Wisconsin without an offer.

    Honestly if I were a D1 coach, I’d have my staff watch every state high school track championship and offer anybody who makes the finals in the 100m while weighing over 180lbs.

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