Michigan Football Preview 2017

2017 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 35 of 179

Earthshaking IMPACT Ten Ways Jim Harbaugh's Arrival Changed The Face Of Michigan Football BY JOHN BORTON E veryone knew Jim Harbaugh's ar- rival at Schembechler Hall would make an impact. From NFL coaches to longtime Michigan watchers to recruits seeking a reason for bonding at The Big House, this seemed a marriage sure to shake up college football. Nobody imagined the tremors would turn into a full-fledged earthquake. It's happen- ing, though, and the aftershocks are being felt from Tuscany to Tuscaloosa. Harbaugh's return to Ann Arbor revealed him to be more than a jackhammer, more than a relentlessly competitive and intensely driven football coach. It showed him to be a fully committed ambassador for Michigan and for college football, in its purest form. Healthy, fair, honest competition. That's what he's about. But make no mistake about it — if you're not geared up for the level of competition he's bringing, he'll leave you in the dust. Harbaugh has certainly returned some traditions of Michigan football — helmet stickers, pro-style quarterbacks and highly competitive teams among them. But he's also stamped the program in ways that are uniquely Harbaugh. Here's a look at 10 of them: 1. World-Wide Outreach Michigan football's trip to Rome April 22-30 caused the college football world to do a double take when first announced. But knee-jerk Harbaugh critics — and there are more than a few around, for competitive reasons — shrugged it off or called it grand- standing. That stance became a very tough sell when the trip began, the tweets started rolling in and national networks broadcast tales of wide- eyed Wolverines in Rome. From the Colos- seum to the Spanish Steps to the Parthenon to meetings with refugees and attendance at a Papal audience, Harbaugh's idea to expand the minds of his crew drew an enthusiastic response, from participants to observers and even critics. "Any administrator, or any person at an NCAA convention, that tries to shoot this down is simply foolish," noted ESPN's Paul Finebaum, previously among the harshest Harbaugh knockers. "I sat there the other day watching the video of Jim Harbaugh and Pope Francis, and taking pictures with everyone else in it, and I was just mesmerized by it. "This is what a college experience should be about, doing something different. Normal students get to go overseas for credit. Why not take a team over there? … My hat's off to Jim Harbaugh. He nailed it on this one." Not that Harbaugh or the Wolverines them- selves required any such backing. They ex- perienced the excursion and came away with memories for a lifetime. "He's innovative," redshirt junior wide re- ceiver Maurice Ways said. "Basketball does it every four years, and nobody has done it in football. You'd think somebody might have come up with it, but nobody has. "He thinks outside the box. He always wants to give us the best opportunity and life-changing experiences. I appreciate him for that." 34 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2017 FOOTBALL PREVIEW PHOTOS BY PER KJELDSEN

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