Harbaugh's policy on practice/playing time for injured players?

Submitted by Gulogulo37 on December 17th, 2018 at 11:12 PM

Maybe you think this doesn't deserve it's own post, but meh. It's related to Solomon and the recent transfers, but my post is about something more specific. First, I want to say I'm not at all accusing the staff of doing something wrong, but I'm just looking for more information and insight on the situation. I've actually been one of the few defending the program the last couple weeks and I don't think these transfers show there's anything chaotic or unsettling about what's going on in the program, though it does suck for next year.

A lot of people have been guessing about the "common theme" Solomon's mom hinted at regarding transfers. People have mentioned playing time, racism, losing to OSU etc., but the common theme to me seems to be something about how injuries affect the depth chart and how some players perceive that. I'm not saying that's a bad thing at all. It's hard to say without knowing more. Umbig11 mentioned this but it's buried on page 6 or so on the board post of Solomon's transfer: "I will keep it short. You need to be available to play to help your team win. He’s missed a lot of games. Last year can be misleading too. He was credited for playing in 3 different games, but only played 7 or 8 snaps. No doubt it will hurt the depth chart. There will be more attrition."

Playing time in and of itself doesn't make sense for obvious reasons given Hudson and Solomon. I also have absolutely no idea how this could be race-related. It's not like these guys are getting benched for scrappy lunch-pail white players. But Hudson transferred almost immediately after being declared behind Steuber once he had a minor injury. It seems like Solomon did roughly the same. People are talking about rumors of Black considering a transfer and that would also seem to be related to injuries. We also all know about Zordich hinting that one of the CBs (Hill or Long? Both? I forget) may be falling behind because of injuries. Walker had other issues, but he also did have some injury issues. I can't recall hearing of anything about Singleton while he was at Michigan but he came in with an injured ACL. Some transfers like Asiasi (family) and Wheatley (weight) don't seem relevant to these latest transfers.

I'd be curious if umbig11 or others could be more specific about how injuries are treated within the program in regards to the depth chart and practice time and whether this is different from other programs. Maybe it's part of Harbaugh's emphasis on competition. There's nothing wrong with that. Some have mentioned how OSU and Alabama have also lost huge numbers of players from recent classes. It'd be hard to compare the reasons for all of these though since most aren't publicly commented on.



December 17th, 2018 at 11:30 PM ^

I could easily see this being a coaching staff where putting in the time, keeping up with what they're teaching, overall effort during practice are major factors into what they consider game-readiness--even above athleticism that from multiple players' perspectives makes them automatically "the better player" once they're healthy to go. 

I personally would love to see our team in a place where there is a high enough level of experience, skill, professionalism, and consistency at the top that it is extremely difficult to break into the rotation without a great deal of effort at assimilating the knowledge and being assimilated into the system. And of course, the end game is to be doing this without sacrificing any athleticism.

If that's where we're going long-term, I'm fine with a few road bumps along the way. But if a player just thinks that the playing time is his due, without demonstrating that he is the most game-ready man at his position that week, that moment, in preparation for that team, then maybe regardless of talent, he's not the best fit for us.

(in other words--I would expect that it's more about feeling passed over for guys who are less athletic than you are, not at all about race)


December 18th, 2018 at 1:39 AM ^

Alabama does not seem to have problems keeping their 4 and 5 star players on the bench for a couple years. Most just seem to wait their turn while the 4 and 5 star RS Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors get the starts.  I think Michigan just needs to build depth and stop playing Freshman and Sophomores. They need time to build their bodies and learn the playbook.


December 18th, 2018 at 10:31 AM ^

You are so, so wrong.  In last four complete recruiting cycles, 2018 to 2015, Alabama has taken 100 kids, Michigan has taken 91.

Even if we remove the disastrous 2015 season, where Michigan only 14 commits, in the last three cycles, Alabama took 76 players and Michigan took 77.

So, since both teams can only have 85 players, the same number of players must have left as were taken.  Pretty close.  Not quite precise.  But very close.


December 18th, 2018 at 11:23 AM ^

winning cures a lot of things also. If I can win a national championship...I'm in and will do what I can to be a part of that. If I get my ass handed to me on national TV and I feel slighted because I was injured and feel like I am way more talented than the 'scrub' you replaced me with just because he practices every day...I'm outa here!

It's a cultural shift, I have a pretty good suspicion some guys were 'called out' for lack of toughness, questioning readiness to play when they were cleared to play. Some of it also centered around arbitrary perceptions, we are talking 3-4-5* talent...if I'm injured and fall three weeks behind...the gap widens quickly. I might have been the guy three weeks ago, but I can be replaced. That's a tough reality for some guys who were treated like the sun and moon rotated at their whim in high school. Harbaugh is old school. He demands the TEAM...and some "twitter princesses" don't like it. If I had to guess.


December 18th, 2018 at 8:22 AM ^

" I personally would love to see our team in a place where there is a high enough level of experience, skill, professionalism, and consistency at the top that it is extremely difficult to break into the rotation without a great deal of effort at assimilating the knowledge and being assimilated into the system. And of course, the end game is to be doing this without sacrificing any athleticism. "

I'm afraid that unicorn may very well be impossible. I think in general it's a continuum you have to choose a point along.


December 18th, 2018 at 10:28 AM ^

Yes, I said that same thing here yesterday, and it goes a little beyond your astute comments. A player who can contribute right now may often get the minutes over a more talented player, or a player who just knows--like their family does--that they can be great.

Coaches have to win games, and may or may not have the time, or patience, to coax the potential from a player. Recovering from injuries, sometimes repeated, can tax everyone's patience; doubt creeps in. There's not necessarily much blame on either side--and scrappy and lunch pail are hardly racial characteristics. But if it looks to two or three players like they are being set aside for less talented players, and they begin to whisper to one another. . . hell, a whole team can think that, and not necessarily even be completely wrong; coaches have to decide now, and develop their plans based on who's going in. If player X can go in and give you solid minutes all game long while player Y, though more gifted, is up and down. . . 

Meawhile, coaching philosophies are shifting, S&P coaches are changing, a lot is going on. It's a sausage-making, unforgiving business with a coach who feels pressure to succeed. Gon' be some ugly from time to time, maybe without anyone being too terribly monstrous personally. In a world where kids have more options, sometimes they're gonna go. They may not care about our definitions of loyalty, etc. They want to play, and they have a very small window to achieve what they can in. And many of them are going to wonder where all that love and respect and attention they got coming in disappeared to on their way out the door. 


December 18th, 2018 at 1:13 AM ^

I realize you're not saying this but I wanna put this near the top. I'm NOT saying *I* think there was anything racist happening. In fact, my post is to point I don't think that's the issue (nor OSU etc) but that it's about injuries instead. Maybe others are blaming me without having seen the other comments but it's come up multiple times. I'm not spreading anything. It's already been spread, and I wrote my post in part to quash it. And if people are worried about players or recruits hearing about it, don't people think they get more insight into the program by being a part of it or close to those who are? We aren't important or influential here.

I was thinking specifically of one poster's comments here and maybe I should have mentioned since many others didn't see what was said. But he said he's a close friend of a family member of Hudson and they were talking about it. He didn't actually think it was the issue and was trying to be clear he was just reporting what he heard from someone who would know. He could be lying sure, but it didn't sound like a troll job. And again, he wasn't the only one who brought it up.


December 18th, 2018 at 10:00 AM ^

To any newcomers.  Just a PSA.  Mineral King is not Shea Patterson.  He is a poster who appeared in the fall and went a healthy like 2 for 5 in "insider like predictions" about the team and personnel.

He is, however, completely correct in that the "racism" thing is outrageous and has no basis in fact, evidence, or innuendo in Harbaugh's long coaching career.  I think this OP has spawned some pretty good discussion, but unfortunately if I were a mod I think it would come down because the implication within the OP is an unfortunate one.  .


December 18th, 2018 at 12:18 AM ^

I am more inclined to think the staff was breaking a tendency to try and catch OSU out of position and it basically worked. Instead of the long pass play they were hoping to spring they got the PI penalty which is exactly what happened if you watch the play again (not that I recommend watching any of that again).

Sometimes your great plays go for TD’s, sometimes the defense is beaten so bad or put out of position so bad they just grab a guy to prevent the TD and fight another play. Doesn’t make it a bad call by the coaches.


December 17th, 2018 at 11:25 PM ^

I definitely don't like the "Michigan Mile" run they do on Sundays.

It was one of the only thing that irked me when Harbaugh first came back in 2015.

It's archaic, it's old-thinking. It screams of Brady Hoke's vastly out-dated "traditions" which are supposed to bring back some sort of Michigan Way (e.g "Hearing football").

They also time it and measure performance. But if players are hurt/sore (and they all are <24 hours after playing a full game), then they need properly diagnosed and administered rehabilitation, not more max exertion work.

I really hope they phase it out, or it's totally voluntary (even then, it's absolutely net-negative, regardless)



December 18th, 2018 at 4:17 PM ^

That's not how the body heals/recovers. The recovery period is vitally important. Just look at the statistics of sports teams that play back-to-back nights, etc.

You wouldn't do the 20+ hours of conditioning in one day, would you? Or two days? Why not? 

Timing matters.

If you have a banged up knee, ankle, or hip, it's totally detrimental to rest and recovery. Quad muscle, hamstring, achilles, calf, plantar, etc.

They run the mile competitively to see who is the fastest.

A mile run is an absolutely ancient training metric (hence, why it's "tradition" since the Bo era). It pertains to absolutely nothing that you will ever do on the football field.

In the game of football, no one is ever playing injury-free, it exists on a constant continuum, why you would add to the workload a task that pertains in no way to the necessary skillset of football is idiotic, and out-dated.

Comadery is one thing, but 300 to 330-lb O-Lineman & D-Lineman have everything lose/exacerbate and NOTHING to gain from running a mile, AND THEN, to try and make it competitive, by timing it and rewarding it, is quite possibly the only worse thing you can do.


December 17th, 2018 at 11:29 PM ^

The real reason is a lot of these players these days are entitled pussies. They don't wanna work to get ahead in life. Everything is suppose to be handed to them. It's the way society is today. Harbaugh has a way of doing things, which is completely fine. It's a strategy to turn these kids into men because it will help in the later stages of life, after football. He's a great coach and once these players 100% buy in, we'll have a machine and these kids will be machines on the football field and in life. Some don't see it that way, or maybe its just too hard and that's fine.


December 18th, 2018 at 6:07 AM ^

But the implication there is that making kids work for what they get is somehow unique to Harbaugh. I’m quite sure nobody is handed anything at Bama, Clemson, OSU either.  And I know players transfer out of there, but these kids are voicing real legit discontent, in Soloman’s case, he has made a decision that has the potential to have a legit negative impact on the trajectory of his career to get out of here.  It could be nothing, sure, just an individual decision.  But I think that some of these outcomes should certainly provoke some self-reflection by Harbaugh.  Our desire for these kids should be a positive outcome, and this is certainly not that for Solomon.


December 18th, 2018 at 7:14 AM ^

Well, Clemson has suffered 9 transfers in the last 12 months.  Includes part-time starting QB Bryant and 5* Hunter Johnson, plus heavy contributors in CJ Fuller and DB Israel.  Bryant was very vocal about fairness when he left.

Bama fans were concerned when 10 or 11 players from a 2015 class of 24 transferred by the end of spring practice this year. Heck, one of the biggest stories of the year was the *shock* of Jalen Hurts staying at Bama this year to get his degree before he transfers.

Welcome to the new age of social media and free agency in NCAA football.