The Wolverine

February 2013

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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ture beyond their years. I was like, 'Wow.' I was that impressed." There's a "wow" factor all around John Beilein's program these days — from the present winning, to projections of a lofty seed in the NCAA Tournament come March, to recruiting, to a $100-million extreme makeover of what is now known as Crisler Center. Don't discount that element, noted former Indiana player and assistant coach Dan Dakich, also an ESPN analyst. "That's big," Dakich said. "That is so big. You never want to be swimming upstream in recruiting. That underdog story lasts for a year or two. You want to have the biggest, you want to have the best, you want to have the brightest. "It's Michigan, for crying out loud. That's what I always said about Indiana. I said, 'Dang, you guys don't want to have a practice facility because Coach Knight won in the '70s? Well, this ain't the '70s. "It's an arms race. What Michigan has done with Crisler, it's spectacular. The gym, I always kind of thought of as a dumpy place, truthfully, nothing great." That appearance impacts in more ways than one might think, Dakich pointed out. Sure, there will always be players like Daniel Horton, who said all he needed were two rims and a court in between. Most players aren't like that, though, especially given the choices out there these days. While Michigan downplayed facilities for years while gearing up for improvement, others weren't doing so. "I'm not going to lie to you," Dakich said. "We used it in recruiting. If there was ever an example of a sport playing second fiddle to football, just look at the difference between The Big House and Crisler Arena, sitting right next to each other. "Back in the day, you'd go to Indiana and look at Memorial Stadium and Assembly Hall. Assembly Hall was the more impressive." Now, Crisler Center gleams like its present inhabitants. "Hard-working staff, a coach with a great reputation for winning as a head coach, with a national reputation, a system that kids like to play in, guys that will work like crazy, and a terrific facility," Dakich assessed. "There it is. That's what Michigan has, and that's the reason you see the success Michigan is having right now." *** Taylor Lewan kept a ready answer — in the form of a question — for anyone demanding to know how he could be so crazy as to pass on NFL millions to play one more year of football at Michigan Stadium. You've never been in this program, have you? Of course, he's not really passing on NFL millions. He's just delaying them, to experience one more year in The Big House, a fifth-year senior season, a crack at a Big Ten championship and a final involvement with The Team. Jake Long did the same, before going on to a near $60-million initial

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