Michigan Football Preview 2015

2015 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 34 of 163

THE WOLVERINE 2015 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 33 outside the practice facility at Michigan. He would run for 15, 20 minutes, when he knew everybody else was showering. And not just the Michigan players, but the players around the country. "Every player looked forward to taking off that uniform and getting into the shower with nice, cold water running over their body. He would go out and run, and every step that he took, he realized that very few, if any, other players were out jogging, creating a new sweat. He knew he was gaining a little bit of an advantage over all of those." The elder Harbaugh well recalls the sat- isfaction in his son's voice when relating that tale. "He said, 'I could visualize the water run- ning down over my head, and what that cold water would have felt like over my face, how relaxing that would have been,'" Jack Har- baugh said. "'Every step I knew, I'm gaining an advantage.' "He's pretty much displayed that over his career. It's the determination to be suc- cessful." "His intensity is so apparent," Dierdorf added. "He's one of those people who, when you stand next to him, you're just aware of it. It oozes out of every pore. It's his burning desire to do well, to win. "People will say, 'Does this take you back to Lloyd, and Mo, and of course, to Bo?' Of course it does. You can't win at this level without it. Every coach wants to win. It's just not very often you see someone where it just radiates out of them like it does for Jim Harbaugh." Pushing Too Hard? The recent HBO special on Harbaugh questioned whether Michigan's new boss keeps the gas pedal down too forcefully. Those who remember Schembechler and his practices — not to mention Michigan's pres- ent football reality — laugh at that notion. "They should go down to one of Urban Meyer's practices," Thornbladh challenged. "Go watch Nick Saban and Urban Meyer coach their teams. Football is a tough, dif- ficult game. "There's one common thread between Schembechler, Hayes, [Ara] Parseghian, Bear Bryant, Nick Saban — they're demand- ing, tough, aggressive coaches. Does that mean they don't have compassion, love for their players, a deep commitment to see their players get their degrees? No. "But they're going to challenge their play- ers. There's a recipe, and it's proven out over time. [Fielding] Yost, [Fritz] Crisler, Schem- bechler … they were tough guys, and they were demanding guys." Hanlon worked side by side with Schem- bechler on the 1969 team that rose up and knocked off No. 1 Ohio State. He remem- bers well the attrition that team experienced the previous spring, and the notion that Schembechler & Co. proved too tough on the Wolverines. "It's pretty hard to push a kid too hard," Hanlon said. "You'd be surprised how resil- ient they are and what they can do, and what you can make them realize they can do. "We heard that same statement made in 1969. You're pushing them too hard. You're not doing this or that, and you're going to lose them. You may lose a couple, but if you can gather the rest of them, then it's going to be worthwhile." Jack Harbaugh didn't arrive at Michigan until 1973, but the Wolverines hadn't gone soft by that point, in any way, shape or form. "The people that will look and say he pushes too hard, those are people who don't respond to that," the elder Harbaugh noted. "They aren't interested in that, and they push back against it. "There are some that are challenged by it. Maybe at first they don't buy in, but they continue to watch it, and see it, and see how sincere it is. They see it's not a put-on thing." That said, the Harbaugh patriarch pushes back himself against any notion of his son as a Schembechler clone. "Jim loves Bo Schembechler, but he is not Bo Schembechler," Jack Harbaugh said. "He is Jim Harbaugh. He's not Mike Ditka. He's Jim Harbaugh. He does not try to wake up in the morning and say, 'How would Bo handle this? How would Mike Ditka handle this?' "He's going to handle it the way his heart tells him to. There are some who are going to look at that and say, 'This guy is …' and that's the way they choose to go. "But in my experience watching it at the University of San Diego, and watching it at Stanford, and watching it with the San Francisco 49ers, there were those that did buy into it. Enough of them bought into it to make those programs successful." Jack and Jackie Harbaugh were thrilled beyond words to see their youngest son take on the challenge at Michigan. They're hoping his pattern of rapid resurrections continues. Jack Harbaugh noted: "My hope is, as those people see the love this guy has for the game, the love this guy has for life, the love this guy has for family, they'll say, 'You know what? That's the direction I'm going to go. I'm even going to find a way to lead.' "Jerry Hanlon is right. That same process occurred in 1969. Those guys did follow Bo. I'm hopeful that enough join and come aboard and become a part of this team, and that they have similar success." ❑ For Prominent Coaches, First-Year Success Can Vary Urban Meyer provided the blueprint for getting it done in a first season with a program, albeit with some obvious advantages. He took Ohio State from a 6-7 squad in 2011 to a perfect 12-0 in 2012. Of course, he inherited a Heisman Trophy-contend- ing quarterback in Braxton Miller and had spent the previous year scouting the Big Ten as an ESPN analyst. He also benefited from the roster build-up under Jim Tressel, the disgraced former OSU coach who lost his job via protecting extra benefits situations by lying repeatedly to the NCAA. That said, Meyer has certainly set a standard. He's posted records of 12-0, 12-2 and 14-1 in his three seasons in Columbus, including winning the national championship this past season. Here are some other high-profile coaches in college football and what they did in their first year at the helm. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M — Sumlin inherited a team that went 7-6 in 2011, and posted an 11-2 record and a win in the Cotton Bowl the nest season. He's gone 9-4 and 8-5 thereafter. Jimbo Fisher, Florida State — Fisher took an FSU team that went 7-6 in 2009 and boosted it to 10-4 in his first season with the Seminoles. He ran the table at 14-0 in his fourth season, winning the national championship. Les Miles, LSU — Miles took over a solid crew, one that went 9-3 in 2004, and took it to 11-2 his first sea- son. He's posted seven seasons with double-digit wins in 10 years in Baton Rouge, including a national cham- pionship in 2007. Brian Kelly, Notre Dame — Kelly inherited a 6-6 squad and raised it to 8-5 in the 2010 campaign. He's lost at least four games in four of his five seasons in South Bend, but did go 12-1 and make the national championship game in 2012. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma — Stoops went 7-5 in 1999, his inaugural season in Norman. He won the national championship the following year with a 13-0 Oklahoma crew. He's also hit double-digit wins 12 times in 16 years there. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina — The Gamecocks were 6-6 in 2004, before Spurrier arrived, and just 7-5 his first season. He didn't win more than eight his first five seasons there, but put up three straight 11-win campaigns before a 7-6 disappointment in 2014. Nick Saban, Alabama — Saban's first Alabama squad went 7-6 in 2007, following a 6-6 season the year before. The NCAA-sanctioned Crimson Tide didn't stay down long, though. They've won 10 or more games every year since, including BCS national championships in 2009, 2011 and 2012. — John Borton Mark Dantonio, Michigan State — Dantonio brought MSU up from 4-8 in 2006 to 7-6 his first year in East Lansing. It's what he's done since that has garnered the most attention, including four double - digit wins seasons in the past five years.

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