Every season there seems to be an unscrupulous amount of expectations put on the Michigan Wolverines football team by several media outlets when they reveal their preseason rankings. However, the tone may be slightly different for the 2020 campaign as CBS Sports posted their rankings for all 130 Division I college football programs last week.
While the Wolverines still maintained a top-25 presence, they come in slightly lower than what the average has been over the past few seasons. Here is where different media outlets rated Michigan each season in the Jim Harbaugh-era before the season even began:
- 6th in 2019 by Sports Illustrated
- 14th in the AP Poll in 2018
- 9th by The Sporting News in 2017
- 5th by our flagship SBNation in 2016
- 25th by ESPN FPI rankings in 2015
It seems this season, the narrative around the team in Ann Arbor is a little different than most. CBS Sports has Michigan coming in at No. 17, the fifth-best team in the Big Ten. Ohio State and Penn State are each ranked within the top-10. Wisconsin is not far behind at No. 11, and Minnesota is just after them at No. 12.
For years fans have moaned about expectations being too high, and they may finally get their wish of major media outlets being more realistic. Other outlets along with CBS that have released some kind of rankings are Athlon Sports who ranked the Wolverines at No. 15, and ESPN’s FPI placing Michigan at No. 19.
Expectations are dampened for several significant reasons. Four of the five starters on the offensive line are now in the NFL. Five starters were lost on the defense to the draft (not including Mike Danna, who was an integral part of the defensive line rotation) and Devin Gil moved on as a grad transfer. Lastly, here is a monumental position battle at the quarterback position that Rich Cirminello called the third ‘hottest’ in the country:
5 Hottest QB Battles When CFB Resumes:— Rich Cirminiello (@RichCirminiello) May 29, 2020
5. Wazzu (Cammon Cooper v. Gunner Cruz)
4. Ole Miss (John Rhys Plumlee v. Matt Corral)
3. Michigan (Dylan McCaffrey v. Joe Milton)
2. Alabama (Mac Jones v. Bryce Young)
1. Oklahoma (Spencer Rattler v. Tanner Mordecai)
With so many question marks across the board, it is clear to see why the media’s confidence in the Wolverines may be the lowest since Harbaugh’s first season in Ann Arbor.
Certainly, Jim Harbaugh is one of the reasons why major media outlets are so high on the Wolverines. In fact, Mike Farrell over at Rivals just said that Harbaugh is scrutinized by the media more than anybody:
Coaches the media (including me) are the hardest on...— Mike Farrell (@rivalsmike) May 30, 2020
1) Jim Harbaugh
2) Kirby Smart
3) Tom Herman
4) James Franklin
5) Clay Helton
Who’s missing? pic.twitter.com/MEccCMnMVz
As one of the highest-paid head coaches in college football, deservedly so. Though, maybe now that Harbaugh has been wearing his khakis in The Big House for the last five seasons, the shtick is getting old.
Could that be a boon for the Wolverines and Harbaugh? Absolutely. Michigan loves playing with a chip on their shoulder, and they will have to prove a lot of doubters wrong this year in order to have a championship run.
Michigan named an honorable mention for The Athletic’s hottest teams on recruiting trail
Jim Harbaugh has been getting some work done on the recruiting trail recently, and his program is getting some recognition for it. The Athletic ($) recently released their Top-5 hottest college football programs on the recruiting trail, and although Michigan just missed the cut, they made an appearance as an honorable mention:
The Wolverines’ class currently ranks No. 7 overall after a big month of commitments that includes pledges from four-star linebacker Junior Colson of Nashville Ravenwood, four-star linebacker Jaydon Hood of Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas and four-star defensive end Kechaun Bennett of Suffield (Conn.) Academy. Though the Wolverines’ Massachusetts pipeline is kind of odd, Michigan seems to be on the verge of getting really hot, especially now that there is some smoke that Jim Harbaugh’s program leads the way for four-star running back Donovan Edwards of West Bloomfield (Mich.) High.
They aren’t the only Big Ten school mentioned, though. Ohio State, who has the No. 1 class in the country, is the No. 3 hottest school in recruiting. Maryland pops off as the No. 5 school after receiving commitments from five-star wide receiver Rakim Jarrett and two subsequent four-stars. Tua Tugavailoa’s younger brother Taulia Tugavailoa also transferred to play for the Terrapins. Then, Rutgers, yes THAT Rutgers, was also an honorable mention after securing a couple of three-star recruits and two four-stars. Minnesota rounds up the list as P.J. Fleck has solidified five four-star recruits to play for the Golden Gophers.
Happy one-year anniversary to Juwan Howard
One year-ago on Saturday, Juwan Howard was officially announced as the next head coach of the Michigan Wolverines basketball program.
- Brad Keselowski won the Coca-Cola 600 at Bristol on Sunday. It is his second straight win in the NASCAR Cup Series.
- On Saturday, the NFL said there was an “urgent need for action” following the death of George Floyd: