Harbaugh Weekly: ESPN announcer called out. And freshmen galore.

Which is more important? Jim Harbaugh’s latest imbroglio or his latest bold coaching move?

Gould Headshot square

It probably depends on whether you lean toward Entertainment Tonight or The World News Tonight.

Fortunately, at TMGcollegesports.com, we’re going to give you both. . .

VERBAL SKIRMISH: Harbaugh was all over ESPN analyst Ed Cunningham for speculating that All-America cornerback Jourdan Lewis didn’t play against Hawaii Saturday for disciplinary reasons.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

``It had nothing to do with any off-field suspension,’’ Harbaugh said. ``I heard about Ed Cunningham, got way out over his skis, speculating it was some kind of suspension. Jourdan Lewis is one of the finest guys we have on the team. Football character and off-the-field character. Just total character. There’s few, if any, better than Jourdan Lewis. Just wanted to clarify that for the record.’’

Cunningham has had other moments that have not made him popular at MgoBlue headquarters, Detroit Free Press writer Mark Snyder pointed out.

In 2014, Cunningham ripped former coach Brady Hoke and former AD Dave Brandon when quarterback Shane Morris was allowed to keep playing after he apparently suffered a concussion against Minnesota.

``It was appalling,’’ Cunningham said. ``The young man looked groggy. . . . This is atrocious to me.’’

I’m not going to weigh in on this because, honestly, I have more questions than answers.

For example, why would a broadcaster speculate on a disciplinary situation? Did he have some (apparently bad) information that led him to do that? Is Cunningham going to keep this going by responding. And if a kid isn’t playing due to injury, why not just put that out there to avoid the confusion and controversy?

Let’s just leave it at that.

JORDAN RULES: Oh, and by the way, Michigan players were treated to a 45-minute get-together last Friday with Michael Jordan, who served as an honorary Michigan captain at the rout of Hawaii.

The Wolverines are the first football program to make a deal to wear Nike Jordan Brand uniforms. If the apparel comes with an appearance by His Airness, guessing that Michigan won’t be the last.


We keep talking about how Michigan will be even better in the future, when Harbaugh has had time to get more of his recruits on the field.

Given that 18 true freshmen played against Hawaii, it appears that the future is now.

The headliner in the group, Chris Evans, ran for two touchdowns and 112 yards, and is only the third freshman to post a 100-yard rushing game in his Michigan debut.

The Michigan 18-Wheeler is impressive for any number of reasons.

It shows that Harbaugh and his staff not only can recruit; they can coach ‘em up quickly. And, if he keeps throwing his youngsters on the field, they won’t be nearly as young by the time the leaves have fallen from the lovely Michigan landscape.

It’s also another excellent motivational device by a great motivator.

``It just shows there’s really no favorites,’’ said sophomore receiver Grant Perry, who caught 14 passes while playing in all 13 games last season. ``It’s whoever is the best on the field will play. That’s a great thing, because a lot of players want to play early. That really helped me playing all last year. That’s just a great thing he’s doing. It really benefits the player.’’

At a lot of established programs, conventional wisdom says it’s better to redshirt freshmen, because they’ll be better players when they’re 22 or 23 than when they’re 18.

It’ll be interesting to see if redshirting becomes more prevalent in Ann Arbor after the cupboard is stocked.

With Harbaugh, though, it’s very much an open question.

Because Harbaugh and ``conventional wisdom’’ are not words often found in the same sentence.[/membership]