Michigan football has been in Italy if you’ve been living under a rock lately and life has been good. But, you can bet that head coach Jim Harbaugh loved the news coming out of Philadelphia the past few days as well.
That’s because a program record-setting 11 players heard their names called in the 2017 NFL Draft.
With Harbaugh fresh off his own headline-making tour of Rome, you can bet he is going to find a way to cash in on the 11 players who were drafted. It is a great selling point for the Wolverines program, with Harbaugh leading this group for the past two seasons.
Recruits will certainly take note of what went down this past weekend, after all, the dream is always to get to the NFL, right?
Harbaugh is certainly going to find a way to make sure everyone know about the number 11. He’ll use it in marketing material for sure. We’re also sure to hear all about it the next time (and the hundred times after that) he steps in front of a microphone.
There’s no denying the fact that producing that level of NFL talent is impressive, but you know what would be more impressive? If that kind of talent led to a division title or a Big Ten championship or a bowl victory.
Instead, Michigan finished last season 10-3 (again), didn’t win the division title or a Big Ten championship and certainly not its bowl game. Michigan’s season ended with a crazy 33-32 loss to Florida State in the Orange Bowl.
Clearly Harbaugh and Co. are doing something right, but this weekend’s NFL draft also highlights the fact that there is a lot of work ahead of this program.
Harbaugh’s biggest test is likely to come this season. Not only are all 11 of those drafted players gone, but so are plenty of other starters and big-time contributors over the past two years. In some respects, the upcoming 2017 season could be thought of as the real start of the Harbaugh era.
He took some really talented players that he didn’t recruit for the most part and got them to compete at a very high level the last two years. Can he do the same with young players that he has recruited to play in his systems and with his philosophies only?
If so, this 11-man NFL draft class could be the jumping off point to some huge draft classes in the future.
If not, Jim Harbaugh may be out of a job sooner than anyone would’ve thought in Ann Arbor. After all, winning big is why the Maize ‘n Blue brass went out and spent the multi-millions of dollars it has.
The first two years have been nice, and this weekend’s draft speaks volumes about the coaching staff at Michigan, but championships matter in Ann Arbor. At some point the talent has to equal championships as well.
We’re guessing few need to remind Harbaugh that it has been 13 years since a Big Ten title was won at Michigan.
Luckily, getting back to being competitive nationally in the first two years show real progress. It may take a few more years to make championships a reality given the turnover on the roster, but championships will matter sooner than latter for Harbaugh and Co.