Allen Park – Count former Lions linebacker and college football analyst Chris Spielman among those impressed with the job Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh did in his first season.
Spielman, a three-time All-Pro who spent eight seasons with Lions after being drafted out of Ohio State, had the chance to speak with Harbaugh on several occasions while working three Michigan football games last year for ESPN. (He has since moved to Fox.)
“I love what he’s done. He does it his way and he’s forces people out of their comfort zone,” Spielman said prior to the Lions’ third training camp practice Sunday. “I think Jim is exactly what Michigan needed. As long as the players are buying in, they’ll be good.”
Spielman said all the Big Ten coaches can draw X’s and O’s on a board and know what they’re doing, but the thing that separates Harbaugh is he can compete with Ohio State’s Urban Meyer in recruiting.
“The one thing Jim can do is, he can go into the living room that Urban Meyer just left and compete for the kid,” Spielman said. “I’m not sure every coach in the Big Ten can compete with Urban Meyer. Jim does have that ability.”
When asked if Harbaugh and Michigan are going to end Ohio State’s recent dominance in the series – OSU has won 11 of the last 12 – Spielman quipped, “Everybody hates a winner. I know, man. It’s tough.”
In the Big Ten’s preseason media poll, Ohio State was picked to finish first in the East Division, followed by Michigan and Michigan State. The Buckeyes were also the favorites to win their second Big Ten title in three years, garnering 27 votes compared to Michigan’s 11. Michigan State received no votes.
“I’ll say this, even when I played here they were two great schools and two great traditions,” said Spielman, a two-time All-American at Ohio State. “That’s good for the game as a whole and good for the Big Ten that both of them are good. It makes it more interesting for me, personally and professionally.”
Spielman will join play-by-play announcer Matt Shepard and sideline reporter Jennifer Hammond as part of Fox Sports Detroit’s preseason Lions broadcast team.