Somewhere in the football heavens Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler are smiling. They are smiling because their former football conference, the Big 10, got a huge boost with the news that Jim Harbaugh was returning to his alma mater.
Harbaugh will be the next head coach for the Wolverines.
This is a home run hire by the Maize and Blue. This is great for the college football program with the most wins ever.This move is every bit as big as Urban Meyer taking over in Columbus. This is huge for the Big 10. And in the grand scheme of things it’s terrific for college football.
What happened here is that one of the football’s top coaching minds, regardless of level, is leaving the glory of the NFL for the riches of Michigan.
Wow. It couldn’t have played out any better for the school’s administration, which is kind of funny because coaching searches rarely start and finish with one guy.
Well, ironically it happened in Columbus with Meyer and it happened here in Ann Arbor with Harbaugh.
But it’s more than just about a quarterback returning to his school. This is so much bigger than that. It’s about making the Big 10 much more relevant again in the ever changing and evolving college football world.
It’s no big secret that Michigan has been down and pretty much irrelevant nationally for quite a few years now. Everyone is chasing Ohio State and Meyer is not going to take his foot off the gas any time soon. It’s Michigan State, not Michigan, that’s the closest team to catching the Buckeyes. In fact, they did last season and won the conference. Spartans coach Mark Dantonio has established himself as one of the game's top college coaches.
Wisconsin is Wisconsin. They are always going to be a good and a program that pushes towards 10-wins each and every season. And now you have James Franklin at Penn State, who will recruit his tail off in Happy Valley. Of course you have Nebraska. See Wisconsin.
The Big 10 needs Michigan to be Michigan. They need Harbaugh to restore the roar of Wolverine football.
I grew up watching Big 10 football. In fact, my two earliest college football recollections are the Rose Bowl and Ohio State vs Michigan. Bo and Woody mattered in my house. Then again, this isn't my father's college football world anymore. Today it's the SEC, the spread attack and playing wide open. The game is about speed, sizzle, and flash.
But the conference has made some bold coaching moves over the past few seasons and this could be the biggest. Harbaugh has been a winner at every landing spot and the trend says that this should continue in Ann Arbor.
Harbaugh will take over a young and talented roster. Roughly 60 players are either freshmen and sophomores. They won’t take a major hit in the recruiting battles for his first class because it’s a class small on numbers. It’s expected the Wolverines sign somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 or so prospects.
Recruiting will be key. First, it will be recruiting the right assistants that know what it takes to win on and off the field at Michigan. There are just some different dynamics there.
Harbaugh and his staff will have to get it done in the recruiting world because they are chasing Meyer and Ohio State. He’s the guy. The Buckeyes are the benchmark. Meyer has brought an SEC recruiting style and mentality to Columbus. He knows exactly what it will take to topple the SEC.
But I have faith in Harbaugh. After all, he recruited exceptionally well at Stanford of all places and he knows exactly what it will take to win at his alma mater. That tells me all I need to know.
One of the great things about college football are the rivalries. Here, there’s been a big one brewing for decades between Ohio State and Michigan. Hands down it’s one of the game’s best and it just got a shot in the arm with this Michigan hire.
It could be like Bo/Woody only this time it’s Harbaugh/Meyer. Can you imagine the build up to this game on November 28th of next year?
The Wolverines landed their Michigan man which bodes well for the Big 10 which makes college football that much better.Related stories: NFL Rosters Breakdown Series
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