Jim Harbaugh once said “By your fruit you will be known. By your talent, by your effort in football you shall be known.” And he wants Michigan to be known at the highest of levels, he wants them to be known as champions.
The Michigan Wolverines finished the 2017 regular season 8-4, a record that is better than mediocre, but not acceptable under the standards Harbaugh has set for the program.
At Michigan’s football awards banquet last night, Harbaugh made it known what the goal is. "We've got to win all our games. That's what we're striving for." he told the crowd.
Michigan lost more starters than any team in the nation, countless freshman and new faces became starters. But 2018 will not have the same problem, as the team will return a large amount of starters who should be better next season with more time and experience under their belt.
Harbaugh told the fans and alumni in attendance the team needs to get better. "Wins are really important, too. And we need to do better as a football team. We welcome the judgment from you. I know you just want the best for us. But we've got to improve.” He said.
Some programs are satisfied with three seasons that net at least 8 wins, even Michigan fans would have taken that gladly from Brady Hoke and Rich Rodriguez, but when its Jim Harbaugh, much is expected. Harbaugh knows what the Michigan faithful expect him to accomplish, and the competitor in him loves the pressure and expectations.
The winner in him, who has been to Three NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl in the NFL would prefer not to play in any bowl game that doesn’t have the College Football Playoff attached to it.
A culture shift doesn’t change overnight, but the culture has changed in Ann Arbor. Players commit to Michigan with the idea of competing for a National Championship.
Next season will be the first Michigan football team that is truly Jim Harbaugh’s. Over 90% of players suiting up next season will be Harbaugh recruits. These are the players who bought in to Harbaugh’s message, these will have to be the players to enact the vision Harbaugh has. Winning all the games has been something they’ve been told is expected since they committed to the program, and that isn’t something that will be forgotten by the players or taken lightly.
2018 will be a huge year for the program, things sound like they’re on the up and up, brighter days are ahead, but they must be forged by blood and sweat. Ability alone will not get Michigan to where they want to be, believing can heavily impact achieving.
The question now is, does the team believe they can win all our their games? If they do believe, that is all the motivation the team needs this off-season to get stronger, become faster, hit a little harder, coach more effectively.
Improve. Win. Don’t lose. Not even once.
A tall task.
As Muhammad Ali said “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”
Setting the bar as high as Harbaugh has is a risk that leaves little to no margin for error, but to create a culture of no risks and being content at 8-4 is what would be dangerous. Complacency and stagnation are a risk for a program, and Harbaugh would bury those words alive if he could.
Onward with high hopes for the Michigan program. The Jim Harbaugh era of Michigan football is far from over, it’s just getting started.
The story is in its beginning stages, the canvas still merely blank. What happens from this point forth will decide the story, it will show what the painting ultimately looks like.