UM Q&A: Harbaugh will need time to build, DiNardo says

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Jim Harbaugh

BTN college football analyst Gerry DiNardo talked to The Detroit News about Michigan.

Q: How much can Jim Harbaugh change the culture at Michigan?

DiNardo: "Last year I thought they had better players than eight of the teams they played, everybody other than but Michigan State, Ohio State and Notre Dame. So they lost games to the teams that they had as good a players as or better. The fair expectation is that shouldn't happened like it's happened the last two or three years. The fair expectation is any team they have better players than — they need better quarterback play, which I think Jim will bring them — they should win those games."

Q: Is Harbaugh a "home-run hire"?

DiNardo: "He is a home-run hire. He's a rock-star hire. We've seen what Urban (Meyer) has done at Ohio State. We're getting a glimpse of what James Franklin can do at Penn State, and Mark Dantonio wasn't a rock star when he was hired, but he's now a rock star, and we see the results he's getting at Michigan State. If you look at the SEC, the best conference in the country, they've done it by hiring rock-star coaches."

Q: Looking at Michigan last year, what was most disappointing thing about the offense?

DiNardo: "The quarterback play, I thought, was at a level you never really gave your team a fair chance to win. There were too many turnovers, they never settled on a scheme. The whole Denard Robinson thing (in 2011) — Brady having to run the spread and waiting for the transition to the West Coast offense was a problem. And then Devin (Gardner) never settled into either offense."

Q: Why has the offensive line struggled the last few years?

DiNardo: "The problem with the offensive line is you watch the kids they recruited on high school tape, they were very good prospects. There wasn't a prospect there that most schools wouldn't take. Then you watch them in practice, they're pretty athletic, so there was something that didn't bring them together as a unit. I still maintain that individually they could play for a lot of places; it just seemed they never got it together."

Q: Can one player, Jabrill Peppers, make that much of a difference?

DiNardo: "One player can make a significant difference in enthusiasm and leadership. A quarterback can make a difference as a player. I'm not sure somebody from the secondary can make a huge difference as a player. I'm not ready to say Jabrill can do that."

Q: You saw quarterback Jake Rudock play at Iowa. What does he bring?

DiNardo: "Rudock can be better than Devin (Gardner), and depending on the rest of the pieces of the offense, they can be efficient on offense. But I think one of the things Jim brings is how to manage the game and how to integrate the offense and the defense. So Rudock, if he has to, if Jim's in a situation during the game he doesn't need the offense to do a lot, Jim can make that happen with his game-management skills and win it with defense."

Q: How far behind Ohio State and Michigan State is Michigan?

DiNardo: "When I say they're three or four years away, what I mean is talent, infrastructure, how you recruit, consistency in the staff. That doesn't mean the games aren't toss-ups this year. But they're three or four years away from the culture, from the recruiting, from the infrastructure. They can be good immediately, but they can't be Ohio State good immediately, but they can beat Ohio State. When I say three or four years away, I don't mean from beating them, I mean from getting them caught up as a program."

Q: With the Harbaugh hire and Meyer at OSU, is the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry back?

DiNardo: "I thought it was going to be that way with Brady and Urban, because they both had histories at their schools, but that didn't work out. Could it be? Yeah. The difference between the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry now is first of all, it's divisional play. One thing we've lost in this transition (to Big Ten divisions) is there used to be a time when the winner of that game won the Big Ten. So that's done something to the rivalry. Plus, Michigan State is the better program right now than Michigan, and Michigan has to emphasize (winning that rivalry) first."