Former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, now retired and working for Fox Sports, took a jab at Michigan before turning serious in his analysis of the Wolverines.
As the Fox Sports crew discussed the season on its new pregame show Saturday, the analysts -- Meyer, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and Brady Quinn – were asked: “Is this finally Michigan’s year?”
Meyer weighed in first.
“Year for what?” Meyer said, laughing.
The Wolverines are entering their fifth season under Jim Harbaugh, who has yet to beat Ohio State and reach a Big Ten championship. Michigan is ranked No. 7 in the preseason AP poll and several college football analysts have projected this to be the year the Wolverines get over the hump and make a run for the national championship playoff. Harbaugh hired Josh Gattis as offensive coordinator and has installed a no-huddle pro-spread.
“They certainly have the players,” Meyer said on the show. “They have some of the best unknown players in America. The three receivers they have are all NFL draft picks. Donovan Peoples-Jones is a leader. I recruited Jones, and he’s an incredible player, incredible person, great punt returner. The question is: Are they really going to be able to transition to a spread offense fast enough not to lose a game?
“Nowadays, it’s Final Four football. You cannot lose a game. And how do you that? You’ve got to get that spread offense going. The guy that’s taken over is a 35-year-old coordinator, Gattis, that came from Alabama. He’s never called a play. He’s got to jump in there and get this thing turned around. They have the best offensive line they’ve had since I’ve been playing against them.
"And then also on defense, Don Brown is one of the best defensive coordinators in America; however, the last two games did not end well (losses to Ohio State and Florida). He’s going to have to adapt. I think he will, because I think he’s that good of a coach. They’re going to have to mix in some zone coverage with man.”
Leinart jokingly offered a translation of Meyer’s response to the original question – “No.” Meyer smiled. Leinart praised Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson and said he was “underutilized” last season.
Bush chimed in and suggested Harbaugh is the reason Michigan hasn't broken through to top of the college football mountain.
“If the head coach is not right, there’s a trickle-down effect,” Bush said. “I think Harbaugh is the issue, yes.”