If you’ve been following anything coming out of Ann Arbor this season, you’ve probably noticed a bit of a change in how the Michigan coaches and players are treating The Game vs. Ohio State. There’s no doubt there is an increased amount of energy and focus placed on one of the greatest rivalries in all of sports.
That is, of course, nothing new from the OSU sideline. Over the last couple of decades, Jim Tressel, then Urban Meyer, and now Ryan Day have embraced the rivalry and work on it year-round in some way, shape, or form. It has resulted in the Buckeyes winning 15 of the last 16 matchups and frankly, resetting expectations and a level of tolerance up at Michigan.
Even though Jim Harbaugh was brought in to swing the pendulum the other way, it hasn’t happened so far. Harbaugh has coached the Wolverines to 0-5 during his tenure, and the lack of success against his rivals led to some loud calls for a change to be made. However, instead of going in a different direction. the Michigan brass significantly restructured the new contract of Harbaugh, significantly downgrading the salary and buyout.
It was a message being sent without paying the ultimate price of losing his job, but it seems as though Harbaugh has taken it to heart, hiring a younger coaching staff and changing how the Wolverine program treats the rivalry game against Ohio State.
There’s now a sign in the Michigan weight room that says “What are you doing today to beat Ohio State?” The coaching staff instituted the “Beat Ohio drill,” one that has apparently been in place since the start of spring.
“It’s a run drill, Harbaugh explained. “Run drill and a run-stopping drill. All runs, all runs are between the tackles. Physicality, emphasis, and emphasis on Ohio State and keeping them on our minds every day of practice.”
Well, that’s new….