ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Ryan Glasgow’s journey through big-time college football hasn’t been entirely filled with Jim Harbaugh, Michael Jordan and Citrus Bowl victories. For that reason, the Michigan fifth-year senior defensive tackle has gained an invaluable perspective on what really makes the Wolverines program special.
Appreciative. Gracious. Eager for the future. Glasgow feels that way because he’s experienced the full spectrum of emotions during the past five falls.
In 2012, Glasgow’s freshman year, Charles Woodson, Desmond Howard, Derek Jeter and LaMarr Woodley weren’t knocking down doors to watch the 8-5 Wolverines play on Saturday. They weren’t around to welcome new recruits. Back then, the Wolverines didn’t have star-studded signing day events and droves of celebrities waiting to serve as honorary captains.
Back then, fans departed early from an empty stadium (based on UM standards) to beat traffic and avoid watching another gut-wrenching loss.
Of course, that’s not the case today. Back on Dec. 30, 2014, Michigan hired Jim Harbaugh to replace fired coach Brady Hoke. Last season, Harbaugh directed the Wolverines to a 10-3 finish and a 41-7 New Year’s Day celebration over Florida in Orlando.
In turn, Michigan had begun to retrace its roots.
Glasgow welcomes the positive changes, of course, but he also remembers when his team was the subject of heavy criticism. Poked, prodded and downgraded, the Wolverines were a punching bag until Harbaugh, one of Bo Schembechler’s favorite sons, essentially revived a college football giant.
“I’m hoping from this point forward this is the norm — people want to be associated with this program,” Glasgow said of the all-star endorsements and return to prominence. “I know when we were 5-7 (in 2014), people were running for the hills.
“Now it’s pretty cool to see people gravitating back. You know, when you go through that, a 5-7 season, and people don’t want anything to do with you, (then going) to something like this, it’s really about the team and the guys in your room (position group). Everything else is great, but at the end of the day, it’s just the guys you play with and your coaches.”
Magnetized — the entire nation, not just Wolverines fans. Everyone has their eyes glued to Ann Arbor — they want to see how far Harbaugh can take his alma mater during his second year on the job.
The attention has been a good thing for players such as Glasgow, who has served as one of the pillars of the program for the past three seasons.
“It’s pretty cool. It’s really enjoyable. You know, you go out there and see a full stadium,” Glasgow continued. “I mean, as I was saying, when you’re 5-7, you just truly realize that it is just your teammates at the end of the day — and your coaches.”
The glitzy extras are “nice,” but Glasgow hasn’t let hype or expectations change the way he approaches his daily routine. He’s always been about winning and competing. Always will be, too.
Prior to 2015, the Wolverines had gone four years without a double-digit win total. This past fall, the Wolverines were seconds away from beating Michigan State for just the third time in nine attempts — a game that ended with an unceremonious botched punt.
That said, Michigan needs wins over Michigan State and Ohio State before truly returning to the forefront, but grabbing 10 wins in 2015 certainly put the program on track for major success with Harbaugh. After beating Hawaii 63-3 in Week 1, the Wolverines moved from No. 7 in the Associated Press poll to No. 5. Many national pundits view the Wolverines as College Football Playoff contenders.
Regardless of what he says, Harbaugh has had more than a little to do with the shift in Ann Arbor. The recent happenings have been anything but coincidences. Granted, the players have matured as men and improved as athletes, which always helps, but the coaching swap has done wonders in just 18 months.
Don’t ask Harbaugh to praise his effort. Don’t ask him about how his presence influences everything at Michigan — and that means everything. One man has put a town on the edge of its seat.
Success is a team product. Coaching is part of the process, not something done to gain attention.
“Individual players, they’re in a good position right now; they’re in a good place,” Harbaugh said during a weekly conference call. “They performed well in their first game. The team acquitted itself well in the first game. I’m sure being the first day of classes (Tuesday), guys are up on campus — and you know, they can hold their head up high and attack the first day of classes, and know that they’re doing well.”
There are two sides to the process. Coaches coach, players play.
“Now, you know, you’ve got to do it again, and again the week after that,” said Harbaugh, who views each week the same as his players — at least that’s how it should be, he quipped. “I think our team has a chance to build and attack at the same time, going forward from this week. And each individual player has that ability.”
Glasgow should be overcome with a sense of accomplishment. The veterans, the guys who’ve been through the wringer — they deserve to go out on a high note.
“Everybody knows how they should be feeling about themselves, and the opportunities ahead of them,” Harbaugh said. “They should feel good about that and their chances right now. I think some guys are really going to take that and run with it — I really do. That’s the opportunity that lies before them — it’s a good one.”