Overlook ‘The Sport,’ Michigan soccer hurting recruiting with Jim Harbaugh contract limbo


Free Press sports activities writers Orion Sang and Rainer Sabin break down Michigan soccer’s present state of affairs:

Sang: We needs to be speaking about ‘The Sport’ proper now … however these aren’t regular occasions in Ann Arbor. For the primary time in over 100 years, Michigan and Ohio State is not going to be taking part in. That also feels bizarre to say.

Sabin: It’s positively unusual. This entire season has been peculiar from Michigan’s standpoint, and it’s been off beat from the very starting. In some methods, although, it was predictable, within the sense that the coronavirus pandemic was anticipated to worsen round this time and maintaining Ohio State-Michigan on the finish of the season endangered the likelihood that “The Sport” would really be performed.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh looks down at his notes during a timeout in the second half against Ohio State at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh appears to be like down at his notes throughout a timeout within the second half in opposition to Ohio State at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018.

[ Here’s the problem with giving Jim Harbaugh an extension at Michigan ]

Sang: I feel essentially the most disappointing a part of all of that is that it may’ve been performed earlier within the season. But it surely wasn’t, and now right here we’re. This has been a surreal week for Michigan: Clearly, one of many greater headlines was the cancellation of the Ohio State recreation, however we’re additionally lower than every week from the start of the early signing interval and there has nonetheless been no clarification of Jim Harbaugh’s contract standing.

Sabin: It’s one other weird component on this season. It appeared unusual that a contract extension wasn’t labored out months in the past. Harbaugh entered the primary recreation as the one Energy 5 soccer coach with lower than two years left on his contract, which is because of expire three days after 2021’s closing recreation. That he isn’t locked in past subsequent yr creates a whole lot of uncertainty for recruits, in addition to coaches who could contemplate becoming a member of Harbaugh’s employees, if he decides to make some adjustments there. This actually must be resolved, given the timing of all the things.

Sang: I don’t assume anybody may have anticipated this dragging out so lengthy. Theoretically, this could influence Michigan’s capability to retain commitments within the 2021 class. We’ve seen some potential motion already, as four-star receiver Xavier Worthy — the third highest-ranked prospect in U-M’s class — visited Alabama for the Iron Bowl and is now set to make a closing choice between the Wolverines and Crimson Tide on Dec. 16. I feel essentially the most stunning factor, although, is that there aren’t actually different recruits who’re publicly wavering about their pledge. We’ve seen a number of commitments reaffirm their dedication to Michigan on social media. Nothing is for sure till pen meets paper, however even with all of the uncertainty, the Wolverines’ recruiting class stays intact.

Four-star receiver Xavier Worthy (Fresno, Calif.).
4-star receiver Xavier Worthy (Fresno, Calif.).

[ Here is why Michigan football canceled the Ohio State game ]

Sabin: I’m wondering if a few of Michigan’s commitments will wait till Nationwide Signing Day in February, if Harbaugh’s future hasn’t been decided by early subsequent week. That might give these recruits time to evaluate the state of affairs in Ann Arbor. I discovered it unusual that athletic director Warde Manuel was adamant about ready till after the season to go to with Harbaugh about his standing. If there have been plans to finalize an extension, it might make sense to take action and announce the phrases earlier than the early signing interval. On the similar time, if the plan is to maneuver on from Harbaugh, it wouldn’t be honest to the category of prospects to announce that call after they signal.

Sang: I wasn’t certain what to make of Wednesday’s presser. Our colleague, David Jesse, reported this week that Manuel and Harbaugh have spoken lately about an extension, and Manuel acknowledged he and Harbaugh converse on a regular basis — this isn’t a state of affairs the place the 2 are merely pushing aside a much-needed dialog. On the similar time, if this concludes with an extension, then there could have been no cause to attend this lengthy. The longer this goes on, the extra ammo different groups have — and, as you talked about, it might be no shock if some recruits who have been beforehand stable determine to attend previous the early signing interval to evaluate their choices.

If that is resulting in a parting of the methods down the street, there’s nothing that Michigan can do to salvage the recruiting class, anyway. The Wolverines’ two worst recruiting courses of the trendy recruiting rankings period have been the 2015 class — which featured the transition to Harbaugh in late December 2014 — and the 2011 class — which was the transition class between Wealthy Rodriguez and Brady Hoke. If there’s a teaching change, issues will get ugly. That’s the nature of these items. But when there isn’t a change, we’ll look again and marvel why Michigan damage itself with all of the uncertainty. And it’ll have made Harbaugh’s job tougher.

[ Why next 8 days could make or break Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan future ]

Sabin: And that may be a disgrace as a result of this roster wants an infusion of expertise. I feel that was one of many revelations this season. Decreased depth and and the absence of playmakers have been huge the reason why Michigan has sputtered to a 2-4 file whereas struggling losses that have been embarrassing and historic. It’s all about recruiting in faculty soccer, and applications that don’t constantly reel in top-end expertise will rapidly fall behind, which is what appears to be taking place at Michigan. In a whole lot of methods, it might probably’t afford to overlook out on the following batch of excellent prospects due to uncertainty surrounding the management of this system.

West Bloomfield running back Donovan Edwards runs against Oak Park  during the first half of season opener at Oak Park High School on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020.
West Bloomfield working again Donovan Edwards runs in opposition to Oak Park in the course of the first half of season opener at Oak Park Excessive Faculty on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020.

[ Donovan Edwards delivers a efficiency of a lifetime in only one half ]

Sang: All eyes can be on Harbaugh’s state of affairs as we enter the following few days. Worthy will announce his closing faculty selection on Wednesday, as will four-star West Bloomfield working again Donovan Edwards. Worthy and Edwards are the kind of difference-makers that Michigan wants. I suppose we’ll see whether or not all of this uncertainty will price the Wolverines in each recruitments — and in additional.

Sabin: This weekend may nonetheless have some suspense, filling the void created by the cancellation of the Michigan-Ohio State recreation. Keep tuned.

Contact Orion Sang at osang@freepress.com. Comply with him on Twitter @orion_sang. Learn extra on the Michigan Wolverines and join our Wolverines publication.

This text initially appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan soccer hurting recruiting with Jim Harbaugh contract limbo



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