There’s a new book coming out on Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan program called Overtime. That title doesn’t tell us much, but the subtitle appears to give the subtitle away: Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines at the Crossroads of College Football.
While I haven’t read the book — it doesn’t come out until Sept. 3 — a Forbes review of John U. Bacon’s latest offering casts Michigan as the Last Great Bastion Of The Way It’s Supposed To Be in college football. That’s always a dangerous branch to stand on, because everyone else in the sport can’t wait to saw it off behind you. (Joe Paterno once said in 1979 he didn’t want to retire and leave college football to “the Jackie Sherrills and the Barry Switzers.”)
Most of the quotes, at least in this Forbes review, come from Matt Dudek, Michigan’s director of recruiting whose boisterous manner can sometimes be interpreted the wrong way.
“Name another school that competes with the bluebloods athletically – we’re talking Ohio State, Alabama, Clemson – while competing with the bluebloods academically: Stanford, Northwestern, Princeton,” Dudek says. “Most of the players we recruit are good enough to play for Alabama or Clemson and smart enough to play for Ivy League schools. If you don’t win in the classroom on Monday, you won’t be here for many Saturdays.”
The rebuttal to Dudek’s argument would be that Notre Dame and Stanford also marry elite football to elite academics… and both programs have finished inside the AP top-5 more recently than Michigan.
In fact, Notre Dame reached the College Football Playoff last season and got there in part thanks to a 24-17 win over Michigan to open the season, and Stanford’s No. 4 finish came in 2010 under a head coach by the name of Jim Harbaugh.
(whispers very softly)
the whole "academic standard for athletes above NCAA minimums" is also a thing for like, half the Big Ten, and I'm not even sure Michigan's is the toughest for public schools
— Matt Brown (@MattSBN) August 22, 2019
But that’s not the most hot-takey quote in the book, at least among the quotes we’ve seen so far. That would belong to Harbaugh, who says on Page 32, “Tough to beat the cheaters.”
If Michigan is going to place itself on an even plane athletically with the Alabamas and the Clemsons and above them morally, well, it’d be great to see the Wolverines cash that check on the field this fall and meet them in the Playoff in December.