Some you may know me through my Michigan Wolverines football/basketball work on Saturday Tradition, a site that I’ve been freelancing for since the 2020 season. Others have followed me since 2012, when I started covering Michigan for Bleacher Report and building an audience.

Some have read my stuff since my early, early days at The Flint Journal (MLive).

If you’re new or old-school, doesn’t matter. I appreciate the readership, support and comments via Twitter.

But not if you’re a witless troll. I hate those people.

These days, I’m grateful to have a platform, even if it’s from my couch or office chair. Game days are a little bit different now. But at least I don’t have to battle that crazy traffic off Stadium and Main. They are the craziest drivers, next to those on the Southfield Freeway in Detroit, in the state of Michigan.

This year, media activities are in-person, and I have a day job, and have for 2 years — so the two schedules conflict. I’m no longer among the full-time beat writers who spend their life doing this.

I’m a blogger.

However, in 2020 I was involved a little bit. The Zoom calls were cool; it was almost like being back in Ann Arbor. I’ve even been welcomed to attend events and games by the Michigan athletic department.

But I’m not an every-day beat writer anymore. Those are the ones who do the real work. I still have connections with former and current players, staff members and those in the athletic department. And unlike a lot of the online-only outlet writers, I’m not a Michigan fan. Never have been, never will be.

That’s what made covering UM all the more fun.

I never felt like I had to pander to the crowd or write fan-friendly trash. I called it like I saw it, and many readers loved the unbiased opinions. No sunshine was ever blown up a skirt. It was all honest assessments on my part.

With that said, I’m going to tell you what I really think about Michigan football. It’s not like I haven’t done so over the years, but I’ve never done it this way. I’ve never written with “I” or “me” or “personally.” I figured my declarative statements made that much understood — the opinion was coming from the writer.

Now that you’ve read this far, let’s get to the meat of this piece. Here is what I think of Michigan football in 2021 and, really, throughout the Jim Harbaugh era.

Damn good coach

Dec. 30, 2014 was my 33rd birthday. It was also the day Harbaugh was announced to the masses. At first, I didn’t even think the guy was going to take the job. I figured it was just another name hyped by Michigan fans, because that’s what Michigan fans do. Well, let me clarify: a good portion that is very vocal does that.

So there I was, in a conference room in some family center or something, adjacent to Crisler Arena and near the football team’s entrance to Michigan Stadium. So many Michigan media looked like they were about to unwrap a Christmas present. I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

That day was the first day that I experienced Harbaugh. I asked how the college game compared to the NFL, and he gave me something about how he didn’t like to compare. I quickly learned how to reword such questions throughout the next 5 years.

Anyway, I bought what he was selling. He seemed genuine. He seemed like he cared about restoring a program that helped him become the player he was in the NFL and, ultimately, the man he is today.

I liked him. I thought, “Yeah, I’d want this guy coaching my favorite team.”

He didn’t seem like a snake oil type of guy. You know the types. I’m not going to say names. But one that comes to mind is that of a coach who’s name is related to a Michigan-based grocery/retail chain in a densely populated area. Harbaugh wasn’t anywhere close to coming off like that type of coach.

He’s had three seasons of 10 wins, and one with 9 wins. Yet, for the past 3 years, UM fans have been calling for him to be fired. You guys begged and pleaded for this guy 7 years ago, now you want him fired?

Oh, but now he’s 6-0 and Michigan is ranked No. 6, so it’s all good again.

Michigan was never a perennial national power under any coach. They did well in the Big Ten and were once in awhile considered elite. But UM fans love to think that their team competed for a national championship every season. Harbaugh has gotten the Wolverines closer to national prominence than any coach in the past 20 years. The bar has been set at 8-, 9- and 10-win seasons, with an occasional special season sprinkled in-between.

Harbaugh is the right guy for Michigan. Nobody will care about that program the same way.

Any school would be lucky to have a coach like Harbaugh, so please stop whining and remember Brady Hoke and Rich Rodriguez.

Handful of writers do all the work

There are so many Michigan blogs on the Web. Each one has a writer or two who likes to write hard columns and act like they’re in the trenches. But 99 percent of those people would never say it to a player or coach’s face, and most of them have never covered actual media events. With that said, 99 percent of what you read, the firsthand information, comes from a handful of actual, honest journalists who care about their craft.

For a handful of years, I was 1 of about 5 or 6 writers who regularly asked real questions about real topics. The rest sat in the press room, or stood in Schembechler Hall during player/assistant availability, and recorded conversations. Then they’d write it like they got the information straight from the source.

No, you held your phone and recorded my interview.

I can’t tell you how many article topics I supplied for people. Same goes for about 5 or 6 others who did the same. The other 25-30, sometimes more, people in the room simply stood by and used what was said on their newscasts or on their blogs. I’m not sure if it’s like that with other teams, but I can tell you that a select few feed the masses when it comes to content and information.

Admittedly, I use quotes from other sources today … because I’m not there — but only if it fits the context of what I’m writing. I never used quotes from other writer’s questions — unless they elaborated on my topic of interest/piggybacked — for my content. In fact, I had to call out a few who were writing exactly what I was writing, using the same exact quotes in the same places.

That’s another story in itself. But trust me, most of these Michigan bloggers don’t have a clue. They’ll sit there on their live streams, wearing UM gear, and tell you a story like they were there. They weren’t, though. Don’t put stock into ultra fan boys who were lucky enough to get a one-game credential, or somehow gain access to a press conference once upon a time.

Best QB was Speight

This one is simple: Wilton Speight was the best QB during the Harbaugh era. He was 13-3 as a starter and had Michigan in contention for a College Football Playoff spot in 2016. There is not an argument for any other QB, period. Now, there might be one soon, but there hasn’t been one yet.

Speight, a Hoke recruit, quickly became a Harbaugh-QB and set the tone for others to follow. Jake Rudock, an Iowa transfer, was the bridge in 2015 but Speight was the bar-setter for future Wolverines quarterbacks.

Screwed up letting Jedd go

Jedd Fisch was probably the most personable coach I’ve ever interviewed. His offense was fun to watch. Speight fit perfectly, and the Wolverines had WRs like Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson starring every Saturday. Fisch’s command of the passing game has yet to be equaled in Ann Arbor.

Conflicts of interest between Fisch and Harbaugh led to a split. There should have been more effort to repair the damage, but Fisch ended up leaving for UCLA. One of the biggest mistakes of the Harbaugh era was letting Fisch walk after the 2016 season. Year 1, in 2015, was just a taste of what was about to happen. Fisch just needed a different QB, and he found that in Speight. The 2016 season was arguably Michigan’s best aerial performance since the days of Chad Henne in the mid-late 2000s.

Same with Mattison

Oh, letting Greg Mattison go was also a mistake. I don’t have all the inside info, but I do know that Mattison’s wife used to babysit Harbaugh way back in the day. There was a generational connection there, yet the Wolverines watched as Mattison — a DC and DL coach during his latest stint (2011-18) at UM — ventured to Ohio State after the 2018 season.

Yeah, Ohio State.

That was a stinger, wasn’t it?

Mattison was a fantastic recruiter and well-respected by players and staff. To this day, I still can’t wrap my head around the decision to part ways in such a manner.

Yeah, Ohio State.

Recruit hype is overboard

Michigan doesn’t have the rights to every 5-star player in the country. Not every 5-star that Michigan lands will be a star. Also, just because a highly-ranked player changes his mind on committing to Michigan, doesn’t mean that UM “didn’t need him” or there was something wrong with that player.

The elitist attitude when it comes to recruiting makes the Michigan fanbase damn-near intolerable — especially during recruiting season. The Derrick Green, Shane Morris and every other top-ranked player hype was too much to take. Green and Morris never panned out, and Michigan’s best players have been 3- and 4-star graded recruits.

Best stadium/food for press

Other than the former Cowboys Stadium (now AT&T Stadium) in Arlington, the best place to watch a football game is Michigan Stadium. Cowboys Stadium’s mega-TV and layout, retractable dome and overall feel was cool in a modern sense. Michigan played Florida, and won there, during the 2017 season-opener.

But for purists, Michigan Stadium is it. You don’t have to be a Michigan fan to appreciate the grandeur of The Big House.

Best part of covering UM was the free food. There was Mr. Spots for lunch for a couple years, but that was cut off to my dismay. So, in order to get my steak sandwich fix, I approached Mr. Spots about sponsoring my podcast. Shout-out to Tim and Keith at 808 State Street in Ann Arbor!

In terms of how they fed the press, the Wolverines were second-to-none. We got hotdog vouchers at Spartan Stadium. I’ve been to dozens of Big Ten venues, and none came close to offering the meals offered by Michigan. I remember in 2014, there was a long rain delay during the Utah game. So, as media sat for what seemed like at least 2 hours, Michigan staffers began bringing us prime rib.

I think there was also macaroni and cheese, along with the other sandwiches and dessert bar available as part of the normal game-day menu. The prime rib came from the Victors Club, I believe. They had a suite near the press box. We got their extras … but still … it was good.

I mean, Cowboys Stadium had a spread, complete with a real chef cutting off slabs of prime rib and BBQ. But that’s another level of hospitality. For a college game, and on a regular basis, no school fed me better than Michigan.

Ohio State thing has become a cruel drama

I really feel bad for UM fans. For real. That’s all I’m going to say. Hopefully your Wolverines find a way to beat the Buckeyes. I know my Spartans have done it a few times.

This was fun to write. Thanks for reading. I wanted to do something a little different and give readers an inside peak at behind-the-scenes action on the Michigan beat.