The Michigan Wolverines are the winningest team in the history of college football. Tradition and legacy live through the walls of Schembechler Hall in Ann Arbor. But how much does all that really matter to a high school football player?
Official Visit tackled trying to figure this out. They polled 1,000 high school football players who are not being recruited at the Division I level, to avoid bias and clear out recruiting tactics from the equation. These players were asked: If you were the No. 1 recruit in the nation with offers from every program, how likely (1-10 scale) is it that you would choose each program? Here are the results:
@officialvisit surveyed 1,000 high school football players on brand strength of college football programs— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) July 29, 2022
What do you think of the top 25? (h/t @JeremyDarlow) pic.twitter.com/k9mgIkH6L9
The top five all make sense, but beyond that is where things get wonky. I can see a world where many of the teams in the 6-20 range could compete for a top-10 spot depending on the year. But in a year where the Wolverines finally beat Ohio State and won the Big Ten, they didn’t even crack the top-15. On top of that, somehow Penn State, North Carolina and Ole Miss wound up above Michigan.
It’s even more puzzling because the same author of this survey conducted a similar one on a smaller scale in 2018, just a few years into the Jim Harbaugh era. At that time, the Wolverines were ranked 17th. So in a five-year timeframe, Michigan has barely gotten more desirable.
In the world of NIL increasing, a player’s brand is going to become vitally important. How can a player trust a program will get them NIL money if they can’t even brand themselves? The days of banking on traditions and history are behind us. Some programs that believe that these young adults who can become millionaires are going to care about that kind of stuff will be left in the dust. It’s NIL or die, and it looks like Michigan is going to have to step it up a bit.