The Wolverine

2022 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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BY CLAYTON SAYFIE T he Wolverine spoke with five college football experts — Bill Bender of Sporting News, Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports, Steven Lassan of Athlon Sports, Ivan Maisel of On3 and Adam Rittenberg of ESPN — to get their takes on Michigan heading into the 2022 season, including head coach Jim Harbaugh, the quarterback battle and more. Here's what they said: What did you make of Jim Harbaugh's flirtation with the NFL and interview with the Minnesota Vikings? Bender: It stalled some momentum created from last year's Big Ten cham- pionship season. For Har- baugh, the timing made sense if he was going to jump, with the choice being make that Super Bowl run or try to take that national cham- pionship step. Seeing a Georgia roster with 19 five-star recruits provided that reality check at the Orange Bowl. The main takeaway, however, is Harbaugh said he's done with the NFL overtures and fo- cused on taking that step with Michigan. That should help with recruiting for the next few cycles and make that run possible once and for all. Fornelli: I was surprised by it. There have been NFL rumors surrounding Harbaugh every offseason since he came to Michigan, but I never put too much weight into them. I don't think the reaction was overblown at all. While coaches around the country welcomed their newest commits on signing day, Harbaugh was flying to Minnesota to interview for the Vikings job. That's some- thing I don't think any sitting college coach does without believing there's a very good chance they'll get the job. Lassan: I wasn't surprised Harbaugh in- terviewed and pursued a job in the NFL. His name had circulated enough in the NFL rumor mill over the last few years to suggest it was a legitimate possibility. After beating Ohio State, winning the Big Ten title and getting to the College Football Playoff, a look at the NFL made sense, as it's not easy to get into that next tier of college football to beat Alabama and Georgia on a consistent basis. I don't think there's any doubt the situa- tion itself was odd and frustrating for Michi- gan fans, but I would be surprised if it plays any role in how this team performs in '22. Maisel: I'd like to think Jim decided to show everyone he still knows how to throw a curve. I hope he didn't look at last season and decide that's as good as Michigan can do. Rittenberg: So far, it doesn't seem to have had that much of an impact, which is interesting. Talking to people inside that pro- gram, it was a very tense, awkward couple of weeks. And even the week that he was talk- ing to the Vikings was odd. And obviously, there were effects. But overall, it didn't seem to rattle the program or upend too many things there in terms of recruiting. One good thing about Jim being different is that he is maybe a little bit more direct and honest with people when a situation like that comes up. A lot of these coaches may be a little slicker or whatever the word is, and that actually leads to more negative consequences. So, in some ways — in a weird way — his directness about it probably served Michigan well in limiting the damage for something that could've really been damaging, if you think about it. Now you just have to take him at his word that he's not going to do this again. NATIONAL NATIONAL PERSPECTIVE PERSPECTIVE College Football Experts Preview Michigan's 2022 Season Michigan weathered Jim Harbaugh's inter- view with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings fol- lowing the team's College Football Playoff appearance. An unsettling couple of weeks for U-M turned into a non-event, thanks in part to the coach's directness in addressing how his NFL aspirations are behind him. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL 42 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2022 FOOTBALL PREVIEW

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