Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, always the optimist when it comes to Maize and Blue, began his press conference Wednesday during National Signing Day exactly how you think he would. “We are very excited about the class,” he said.
What else do you expect him to say? Do you think he’s going to talk about all the players that got away? Or why some chose Alabama over Michigan or Ohio State over Michigan or Penn State over Michigan? Nope. He’s “excited” with the players he did get and isn’t worried about the ones he didn’t get – nor should he be.
No one – especially me – is an expert in this. Would Harbaugh trade his recruiting class for say, Georgia, ranked No. 1 by ESPN? I know I would – but I’m no expert. Maybe he would just steal a line from Coach Norman Dale “My team is on the floor (field).”
This is the first time that college football has had two signing periods and most of the top players, including No. 1 overall prospect Justin Fields (Georgia), signed in December. Michigan signed 15 players on Dec. 20 compared to just three (Michael Barrett, Ronnie Bell and Vincent Gray) on Wednesday.
But the so-called experts, again not me, don’t think very highly of Harbaugh’s recruiting class. The Wolverines fell to No. 21 in the 247sports composite rankings on national signing day compared to his previous three at Michigan of 37th, eighth and fifth last year. Sorry, but I’ve never heard of 247sports and while my unfamiliarity with their organization doesn’t sway me one way or the other on their opinion I will stand by my opinion that it’s just opinion.
In comparison, since we are always comparing ourselves to that program in Columbus, the Buckeyes have finished seventh, fourth, second and second in the 247composite rankings during Harbaugh’s four seasons. Penn State, who we sometimes compare ourselves to, finished with the fourth-ranked class in the country. Both schools beat Michigan last year on the field – that, unfortunately, is not opinion.
Meanwhile, The NY Post enjoyed comparing Harbaugh to Brady Hoke: “His predecessor, Brady Hoke, followed the exact same pattern: a sluggish start after the coaching change (30th in 2011), followed by two big years (sixth and fourth), followed by a big fade (20th in 2014). The Wolverines slipped from back-to-back 10-3 seasons to 8-5 in 2017. Harbaugh has won two more games than Hoke did through three seasons, but Hoke also finished higher than third in his division — twice, in fact.”
For some Michigan fans, that’s a painful comparison. For others, like me, it doesn’t deserve a seat in the Big House. Who cares what Hoke did or didn’t do while he was the head coach at Michigan? What we all care about is 2018 and what Michigan does on the scoreboard and in the standings.
Part of that success could come down to the eligibility of Shea Patterson, a former 5-star recruit who transferred to Michigan from Ole Miss in December. Harbaugh said on Wednesday he has not heard anything about Patterson’s status or when he might hear anything on his status.
So, what have we learned? Well, there is apparently a group of experts who know how good every high school player in the country is called 247sports. And they don’t think very highly of Michigan’s recruiting efforts. We also learned that the NY Post likes to compare coaches fired with coaches hired.
And my take? We are less than a week away from pitchers and catchers.
How Michigan ranks
Five Star Prospect: Cameron McGrone (247Sports)
Top 3 Ranked Position Players: Mustapha Muhammad (#2 TE, ESPN), Cameron McGrone (#1 OLB, 247Sports)
ESPN300 (5): Mustapha Muhammad (#42), Joe Milton (#119), Myles Sims (#137), Aidan Hutchinson (#193), Cameron McGrone (#206)
Rivals250 (4): Myles Sims (#103), Aidan Hutchinson (#129), Cameron McGrone (#195), Joe Milton (#200)
First-Team All-State Selections (10): Michael Barrett, Ronnie Bell, Vincent Gray, Hassan Haskins, Ryan Hayes, Aidan Hutchinson, Jalen Mayfield, Cameron McGrone, Mustapha Muhammad, Ben VanSumeren
USA Today Top Recruit in their respective state: Aidan Hutchinson (Michigan)