Nobody gave Michigan much of a chance in 2021. After a 2-4 season in 2020, the Wolverines were thought to still be in rebuilding mode, and Jim Harbaugh’s job was thought to be in jeopardy.

The Wolverines proved everyone wrong. Michigan closed the season with a 12-1 record, beating rival Ohio State and winning a B1G title to reach the College Football Playoff for the first time. Maybe it surprised the outsiders, but Jim Harbaugh was always confident in his team.

“One of things I said to these guys was, ‘Hey, guys, let’s face it — the buzz has died down a little bit around here, so let’s make some new buzz,'” Harbaugh told ESPN’s Marty Smith in a recent interview. “They could not have made more buzz around here for everybody.”

Harbaugh said one of the key factors was Aidan Hutchinson returning for the 2021 season. He could’ve easily went to the NFL Draft and put his college career behind him. Instead, he chose to come back to Ann Arbor.

Not only did he come back, the Michigan defensive end proved to be on a mission.

“I could see it right away with Aidan Hutchinson, he could’ve been a first-rounder but decided to come back,” Harbaugh said. “He went up to the strength coaches and said, ‘Make sure every day I walk in this room, you ring me out. I’m hungry.’ The strength coaches said it’s an all you can eat buffet here.”

That attitude put Hutchinson in the Heisman Trophy ceremony as a finalist and now has Michigan in the hunt for a national title.