The days of Michigan being labeled as a top-tier program in college football are over — at least according to ESPN.

Recently, the four-letter network released a series of “overreactions” from the latest college football bowl season, based mostly on the outcomes from those games. Michigan wasn’t given much benefit of the doubt after suffering a 35-16 loss to Alabama in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1.

Michigan fell from the graces of ESPN after the loss, which is now dubbing UM as a “second-tier program” following the 9-4 campaign. From ESPN:

Even the Wolverines faithful seem to have accepted their lot in life: They’re not Ohio State, and they never will be again. Hard to argue with the results, and Michigan’s woeful bowl performance against Alabama was just the latest slip toward the dreaded status of “above average.” Perhaps the bigger issue for the Wolverines, however, isn’t about program and is instead about quarterback. While Ohio State has gone from Braxton Miller to Cardale Jones to J.T. Barrett to Dwayne Haskins to Justin Fields, Michigan has endured plenty of stat lines like this: 17-for-37 for 233 yards, one TD and two picks. That was Shea Patterson’s production in the Citrus Bowl, and it fits with the litany of underachievers at the position for the Wolverines.

But wasn’t this LSU’s lot in life for too long? Then one day Burrow comes along and — voila! — becomes a champion. Whether Michigan is any closer to finding its own Burrow is open for debate, but it’s worth remembering that from 2015 through 2018, LSU had 59 touchdown passes combined. Burrow threw for 60 in 2019. It can happen that fast.

The biggest knock on on Michigan during the Jim Harbaugh era has been the inability to beat Ohio State and compete for a B1G title. After five years in Ann Arbor, many expected the Wolverines would already be a consistent contender.

So far, that hasn’t been the case.

Harbaugh has still reached the 10-win mark three times in the last five seasons — which is no small feat. But it’s still not quite where many thought this program would be by this point in his tenure.