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Column: Jim Harbaugh's Personality, Hard Work Becoming Michigan's Brand

When Ohio State and others react to what Michigan is doing, it means they've been successful so far.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

It is hard to miss anything Jim Harbaugh does, has done or will do since he was hired at the University of Michigan to take over its flailing football program.

Evidence of this can be seen every day on the various blogs and media outlets when every single move the coach makes is documented and broken down ad nauseum.

Harbaugh is a unique character, as evidenced by his antics both on and off the field, but the fact that anyone -- especially rival schools -- talks about him or raises concerns mean that he is doing what he has to do to get the Michigan brand out there.

"Brand" is a word that makes many of the maize and blue faithful's stomachs upset. It is a term that has largely been associated with former athletic director David Brandon's tumultuous tenure with the program. Regardless of that, the Michigan brand still exists, and it needed a massive overhaul. Harbaugh and company have given it that so far.

People assumed that with the hiring of Harbaugh that the program would sell itself, which is an attitude that got Brandon and former head coach Brady Hoke in trouble. "This is Michigan, fergodsakes" became the slogan of the program, for better or worse, throughout the last four years in Ann Arbor.

The tradition does not sell itself anymore. When the Wolverines last won a Big Ten Championship, many of these recruits were small children and certainly did not have college football on their minds.

They needed a change. They needed to be different, be bold and be unique.

Harbaugh is fully aware that Michigan needed to change its image and put itself out there in a big way, which they absolutely have. The biggest example of this is the satellite camp tour that is currently in progress. The staff is rolling through many of the high school football hotbeds across the nation like the rock band that is hungry for its big break.

That has paid off so far with the addition of multiple commitments since the "Summer Swarm Tour" began.

Then, there is the drama with the recruiting graphic that put the accomplishments of Jedd Fisch up against what Zach Smith has done at Ohio State.

Was it a bit pretentious by the Wolverines? The argument can be made for that, sure. Was it negative recruiting? Absolutely not.

In a competitive atmosphere that most of us are familiar with in the world outside of sports, positioning your brand against that of someone else is constantly going on. We look to get a leg up on our competition in any way we can, and this is just another example of that.

Where Michigan wins that battle is in the response of Smith to the graphic. The simple fact that someone from the Buckeyes was rattled enough by it speaks volumes about what is going on in Ann Arbor.

Ohio State's football program that is galaxies superior to Michigan's at the moment. While the hire of the new staff signals that the gap could begin to close here shortly, Urban Meyer cannot be pleased that Smith took to social media to bash the Wolverines. They are not a threat to them -- yet.

Harbaugh will continue to attack the recruiting trail "with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind," but he is already doing wonders for Michigan's brand. The early reviews from the satellite camp tour have been extremely positive and it will certainly pay dividends down the road, more so than it already has.

So, to those saying Michigan is struggling on the recruiting trail, I say this:

You could not be more wrong.

Things have been slow, for sure. But what the staff has been doing since it was brought in is building a foundation for sustainable success and changing how they market and brand themselves. The satellite camp tour is just the start of that.

The old saying is "Rome was not built in a day." It takes time to build an empire, or in this case an elite football program. The staff is in place to get it done.

It remains to be seen how long that takes, but it should be sooner rather than later and we are starting to slowly but surely see the dominoes begin to fall.