NEW ORLEANS — With all signs all pointing to Jim Harbaugh as Michigan’s next head coach, Ohio State’s chief rival could be poised for a major comeback and usher in a new era for The Game, the annual battle between the Buckeyes and the Wolverines.
“In the greatest rivalry in sport,” said sophomore defensive end Joey Bosa, “you need something like that.”
Bosa added: “I think it’s exciting. Some Ohio fans don’t like it, but I think it’s exciting because what is a rivalry if both teams aren’t doing well. He obviously will turn that place around in less than a year.”
Michigan is expected to hire Harbaugh, who was a star quarterback at the school in the late 1980s before coaching gigs at Stanford and, most recently, the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, Tuesday afternoon, according to multiple reports.
After guiding it to a 44-19 record, a Super Bowl appearance and two NFC title games in four years, Harbaugh and San Francisco mutually parted ways Monday morning. Before that, Harbaugh led Andrew Luck and Stanford to a BCS bowl in his final season with the Cardinal.
Perhaps best known for a fiery and ultra-intense, Harbaugh might be a cortisone shot for college football’s winningest program, which has fallen on unprecedentedly hard times in the last eight years.
“It’s going to create that 365-days-a-year competition and challenge,” co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell said.
It would also mark the addition of another star coach to the Big Ten, a conference that’s struggled on the national stage against other power leagues.
“I guess it doesn’t affect me personally, but I’m excited for the Big Ten,” senior defensive tackle and captain Michael Bennett said. “I think it’ll be a good addition for the Big Ten and you see better and better coaches coming in. Coach Meyer has really added to the Big Ten a lot, Coach Harbaugh’s offering a lot to the Big Ten.”
But as far as what the Wolverines mean to Ohio State, Bennett said it’s fine by him if Michigan struggles.
“I don’t have a problem with them not being that good of a team,” he said.
“Every now and then, near the end of the season when you need a signature win, it’d be nicer for them to be ranked higher, so maybe this will be good.
“But, I don’t know. I’m not too broken up that they’ve been not that great since I’ve been here.”
The purpose of hiring someone like Harbaugh, of course, is to change that fact.