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Sunday, November 29, 2015


That Jim Harbaugh is always coming up with different ideas, isn't he? If it's not gatorade on cereal, it's khakis on the sidelines. One moment his headset is on his head, the next it's on the ground. His shirt is on, his shirt is off. He loses a big game, then heads to the White House. He's not exactly an ordinary fellow.

Harbaugh's latest scheme was to tell his fourth-year players with eligibility remaining that they may very well be washed-up in Ann Arbor. That's right, the guys who are on the verge of becoming "fifth-year Seniors" were told yesterday to walk-the-plank and see what happens next year. They may still be at UM, they may not be at UM.

In case you missed it, Harbaugh sent more than 40 players out for Senior Day ceremonies, on the grounds that they've had their four years, and he can be the one to decide if they qualify for a fifth year in the yellow pants. This strategy runs counter to the system at Michigan State, where Mark Dantonio celebrates fifth-year seniors as the backbone of his program. Coaches across the country envy the success MSU has had with the Dantonio system. He rewards players for their loyalty and hard work and dedication, and builds for the future of the backs of his veterans.

But Harbaugh sees it differently. Coach Jim wants to build a "pro-style system" off the field, cutting veterans in place of new talent at his sole discretion.

Will this system work? Time will tell.
But it didn't work yesterday.

How enthused can the fourth-year players ("redshirt juniors") be about winning their last home game of the season, when they're not really sure if it's their last home game of their careers? Wouldn't that ambiguity make it a little more difficult to focus on the task at hand? Departing Seniors often speak of the emotions they felt during their last home game, but an entire class of players at Michigan must have had ambiguous, if not conflicting emotions, throughout the game yesterday. Especially in the second half, and look what happened then.

UM has 67 players on scholarship with eligibility remaining. The scholarship limit for each team is 85 players. That leaves room for 18 new players next season, but Harbaugh is sitting on 21 verbal commitments right now. So, at least three redshirt-juniors are apparently on the chopping block, with as many as four more to come if Michigan signs the maximum of 25 in February. That adds up to seven roster spots to clear out by next season. They appear to have 15 players who would qualify to become "fifth-year seniors" in 2016.

Approximately half of the players on track to be
fifth-year seniors next year at UM may be "cut" by Harbaugh.

Interesting way to build "team spirit",
chemistry, and cameraderie, eh?

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