Recruiting in today’s college football world is really just one giant marketing campaign, and arguably there is no better self-promoter for his team than Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh.
Few coaches have had the media wrapped around his finger like Harbaugh has, masterfully using them to get his messages out as necessary and shutting them out as he needs as well. Keeping his name and the ‘Block M’ relevant on the national media scene has been great for the publicity the Michigan football program has gotten.
It also has helped to land some of the best recruiting classes and top individual recruits in the country as well.
Last season that resulted in the No. 5 class in the country and the landing of the No. 1 player in the country, defensive tackle Rashan Gary.
This offseason was much the same as the first, with the national media eating up every word Harbaugh has spoken and every tweet he has sent out. Feuding with the SEC over satellite camps, taking on OSU athletic director Gene Smith and being seen with as many sports and non-sports celebes as humanly possible.
Heck, Michigan became the first football team in the country to be able to sport the ‘jumpman’ logo of Michael Jordan’s brand within the Nike fold.
A lot of that has been in the hopes of making Michigan football cool again if you will.
Image matters when you are a blue blood program, and there’s little doubt that Harbaugh has done a good job rehabbing a program that simply wasn’t in the mix at the top of the recruiting world let alone on the field.
However, it seems as if Harbaugh and his myriad of support staff have let the headlines and the hype get to their heads. That’s because three 4-star recruits have de-committed over the last three days and two of the three should be alarming to the Wolverines program because of the reasons behind it all.
First there was 4-star 2017 defensive tackle Aubery Solomon, who received a thank you note for attending the BBQ at the Big House. Only one problem, Solomon didn’t even attend the event.
Things got worse for the Wolverines, as they sent the note to him with his name spelled incorrectly.
Independently, these two aren’t that big of a deal as mistakes happen, but together its embarrassing when you are trying to convince 17-year-old kids that you love them and have their best interests at heart over the next four or five years.
“A day or two ago, they sent my mom a card thanking us for going to the Michigan bbq, but we never went,” Solomon told the Georgia 247Sports site. “I do not know which recruit they were talking to, but it was not me. It was just a little heartbreaking, for me to supposedly be so high on their list, for them to confuse me with someone else. Plus they spelled both of my names wrong after I told them, but that was not the main issue. I guess they do not have tabs on me.”
Needless to say, Solomon has decided to decommit from Michigan.
God Bless ? pic.twitter.com/Uub9inc0Da
— Aubrey Solomon (@AubreySolomon91) August 22, 2016
Then, word got out that two 4-star recruits in the 2018 class have also decided to decommit from the program as well. Springfield (OH) 2018 four-star athlete Leonard Taylor also decommitted from the program on Monday, announcing his decision via Twitter.
— Leonard Taylor (@Lenny_T_20) August 22, 2016
The final decommitment in a 24-hour period came from 4-star 2018 offensive lineman Jalil Irvin. Although Irvin also named the Wolverines as his “dream school.”
Some will tell you that it isn’t time to panic, and they would be right. After all, recruiting is a brutal game between August and the first Wednesday in February, let alone over a year ago and there’s time for the Wolverines to hit on top targets between now and then.
The problem is, all three show one thing in common — a lack of relationship being developed between the coaches and the players they are recruiting and accepting commitments from.
There is little excuse for Michigan’s lack of attention to detail and its pure lack of knowledge of who did and didn’t even attend its own summer recruiting event. Those types of mistakes can just as easily brand a program on the recruiting trail as all of the media-driven hype has done to get the Wolverines back in the picture for big time prospects around the nation.
Michigan has already dropped three spots in the 2017 national recruiting rankings by 247Sports, sitting at No. 10 with the decommitment of Solomon. When you are competing against a team like Ohio State in the East division and on the recruiting trail, these types of negative stories could have a way of snowballing.
When said arch-rival is racking up 5-star commitments like they are going out of style and you can’t even know who did and didn’t attend your recruiting events, you’ve got a problem — perceived or in reality.