Happy Thursday, folks. Welcome to Morning Brews. Even though Michigan isn’t playing this week, if you look at the world you’ll notice it’s still turning. There are a number of great games being played this weekend, some of which will affect where Michigan lands in bowl season.
This morning we’re taking a look at one indication of Harbaugh’s success at Michigan, how many of his players have been named to the All-Big Ten teams during his three years. Also this morning, we have an interview with Chase Winovich and a look at the first completed project on the Stephen M. Ross Athletic Campus.
As usual, there is a song referenced in this morning’s Brews. There is but one clue this morning. Clues may be words, phrases, or photos and may reference song lyrics, the title, the artist, or the album on which the song appears. If you think that you can guess this morning’s song, fire away down in the comments.
Let’s get to it:
Harbaugh’s players are consistently earning post-season honors
Jim Harbaugh was brought to Ann Arbor to turn around the football program. Lloyd Carr’s retirement left a vacuum atop the Michigan football world, and the first two coaches who tried to fill it weren’t successful. Rich Rodriguez brought the spread offense to Ann Arbor, and let’s just say that it wasn’t favorably received. Brady Hoke brought a more classical interpretation of Michigan football but still came up short. Harbaugh was the dream hire, and some went so far as to call him the ‘savior’ of Michigan football.
Harbaugh’s time at Michigan thus far has resulted in a feel-good first year, a second year that was a foot away from a CFP birth, and a trying third year mired by injuries, youth, and arguably some coaching shortcomings. However you would appraise the head man’s first three seasons at the helm, what cannot be denied is that Harbaugh has excelled where the previous two coaches didn’t - player development.
Earlier this week, we brought you news of the Big Ten Conference’s annual All-Big Ten team selections. Coaches and the media vote on separate ballots to identify and honor the best players at every position on offense and defence, and at kicker, punter, and kick returner. Michigan made a strong showing with 20 honorees from the 2017 football team.
On offense, Mason Cole, Ben Bredeson, Karan Higdon, Chris Evans, Zach Gentry, Sean McKeon, and Patrick Kugler were honored. On defense and special teams, Rashan Gary, Maurice Hurst, Devin Bush, Chase Winovich, Lavert Hill, Khaleke Hudson, Mike McCray, Tyree Kinnel, David Long, Josh Metellus, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Quinn Nordin, and Brad Robbins were honored.
Quite simply, this is the new norm for Michigan football. Jim Harbaugh will develop players, an area where previous coaching staffs struggled. Last year, Michigan had 22 honorees on the All-Big Ten teams. In Harbaugh’s first year, Michigan had 20 honorees between the three teams. In the year before Harbaugh was hired? Six. Yes, six.
Harbaugh’s tenure has not been without disappointment. The opening loss to Utah, the play that shall not be mentioned, getting stomped by Ohio State in the first year. Losing by one to Iowa and ‘the spot’ in the second year. Michigan State, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State this year. However, turning around a football program is like turning around an oil tanker. It takes time.
That Harbaugh’s teams are producing players who receive honors on this consistent of a basis is a very encouraging sign. The pieces will fall into place. It’s simply a matter of time.
Chase Winovich has come a long way. A member of Brady Hoke’s last recruiting class, the former four-star and No. 299 overall recruit came to campus with high hopes. But things didn’t happen right away for the now-defensive standout. To hear about his journey and how he went from the backup TE on the scout team to a first-team All-Big Ten selection, check out the interview above.
I’ve already talked about the All-Big Ten selections and what they mean for Michigan football, but take just a moment and read the tweet above. The program is incredibly fortunate to have Greg Mattison on staff. He could have gone elsewhere when Brady Hoke was fired, but instead he agreed to restructure his contract, give up the DC spot, and work with Harbaugh and the new staff - and it has paid dividends for the program. Over the past two season, Mattison has seen six of his players on the DLine earn first-team All-Big Ten honors. Maurice Hurst, Rashan Gary, Chase Winovich, Taco Charlton, Chris Wormley, and Ryan Glasgow. That’s quite impressive.
This last video is a big of facilities news. We bring you stories about when big donations are made or when new facilities are approved by the regents, like the recently approved additions to Schembechler Hall, but we don’t often follow up when those facilities open. Back in 2015, billionaire Michigan alum Stephen M. Ross donated $100 million to Michigan Athletics (part of his now $378m in total donations to both athletic and academic programs at Michigan). That donation was used to establish the Ross Athletic Campus, which has just been completed. Check out the video above to see the new home of Michigan’s lacrosse and track and field programs.