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Discussion: How will Michigan’s appearance in the 2022 CFP impact its next recruiting cycle?

Positive results are coming.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 04 Big Ten Championship Game - Michigan v Iowa Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In two weeks, the Michigan Wolverines will make their College Football Playoffs debut against the Georgia Bulldogs. In the wake of winning the Big Ten title, Michigan officially welcomed in its 2022 recruiting class. After impressive back to back performances against their storied rival and conference title game, the Wolverines have been reaping the benefits.

Michigan welcomed in a top-10 recruiting class for the upcoming year, and hopefully its performance in the CFP will be a convincing bullet point on its resume for the next D1 hopefuls.

The Wolverines join an elite list of CFP contenders, as just 13 teams have been invited since it began in 2015. There’s no question the recent visibility of Michigan’s successes have made the already appealing university stand out even more among the rest. Combine a storied history with modern day success, Michigan can now check off a few more boxes when pitching to recruits.

Michigan hasn’t necessarily struggled to bring in recruits under head coach Jim Harbaugh, as they have had a top 10 class in five of the last seven years. But can we expect a noticeable elevation in Michigan’s recruiting rankings post-CFP appearance? Let’s see how other teams fared in their first CFP appearance.

In-state rival Michigan State made its debut in the 2016 CFP, which came at the end of the 2015 season. In 2015, the Spartans had the 28th ranked class nationally. In 2016 though, despite being blown out by Alabama 38-0, there was a noticeable bump in recruitment rankings, putting the Spartans at 16th nationally.

So what lies in store for Michigan? Despite how the Spartans fared in their CFP appearance, they were still able to ride winning the Big Ten Championship and contending in the CFP to better recruiting. Programs that are trending positively tend to see recruits coalesce around them. Michigan had its own positive trend back when Harbaugh first arrived on campus. The year previous (2015) they brought in the 37th ranked class nationally. After Harbaugh arrived, they jumped to eighth. But that positive momentum can be lost as fast as it is gained. Circling back to the Spartans, they went 3-9 the season following their first CFP game. The recruits responded, and Michigan State fell to 38th nationally.

There are a multitude of different ways to influence recruiting, and making the CFP doesn’t always guarantee a team improves. Notre Dame, for example, when it made the CFP for the first time in 2019 (at the end of the 2018 season) had a top 10 recruiting class. After getting blown out by Alabama 30-3, the Fighting Irish fell to 16th nationally in the recruiting rankings. However, there is something to be said about being in the CFP conversation throughout the course of the regular season, every season. Notre Dame has been a consistent presence amongst the selection committee, so reliance on relevancy and success can be heavy drivers for future players.

It appears making the CFP after beating their rival and winning a Big Ten title could carry the Wolverines into their upcoming recruiting cycle. For 2022, they brought in the ninth ranked class nationally after being 13th in the 2021 recruiting cycle. How do we think Michigan will fare after playing in the CFP in 2022?

A major component will also be how Michigan fares in its 2022-23 season. Lapsing to a losing record has demonstrated a negative impact on the recruiting trail. Will Michigan be able to continue the success into the next season? Will the Wolverines be able to replicate the results of this year? The already capable ability of Harbaugh being able to recruit will be enough, but it will be interesting to see how the numbers reflect the success that 2021 brought for the Maize and Blue.

It’s easy to see the immediate impact of a successful season. Michigan has had its fair share of ups and downs, but still remains a heavy favorite for future D1 players. The Wolverines meet a lot of expectations already, therefore meeting success this year can almost guarantee success with recruits for 2023.

I think they need to back up this season with another winning season next fall. Obviously, winning the title and performing well in the CFP will be a nice bonus, but there has to be a tangible reflection of success to maintain high recruiting. Even after going 2-4 last year, there wasn’t a substantial drop in recruits heading to Michigan. I think in terms of tightening the recruiting gap amongst the top teams in the country, replicating another season of this magnitude is the crucial next step.

How do you think this season has impacted recruiting for Michigan? Do the Wolverines have to find success in the CFP to keep upward mobility on the trail? What do you expect for 2022 recruit rankings for the Maize and Blue?