Ex-Michigan Tight End Keith Heitzman revealed in a recent newspaper article that Jim Harbaugh told his fifth year seniors they would have to “try out” for their positions in his first year as Head Coach at Michigan. My instant reaction. GOOD, why wouldn’t you have to audition for a new boss, we all do it in life, why should fifth year seniors at Michigan be any different.
“Obviously, Harbaugh coming in was going to change things at Michigan – do things his way,” Heitzman said. “But I didn’t know if I wanted to try out. That definitely took me off-guard. I was bummed out.” I understand Heitzman not wanting to try out for a position, but that is life, we are all constantly called upon to prove our value to our organizations. This is actually a great life lesson for Heitzman, who will graduated and join the real world after his final season at Ohio University. I actually think Heitzman handled this situation perfectly, he didn’t whine and cry or become a distraction on the way out, he simply looked for a better situation for himself and went about his business, it was a very mature reaction. It will serve him well when he begins his career.
When I think about the “try out” edict from Harbaugh, I really don’t have an issue with players having to try out, especially a roster of player who lead Michigan to exactly five wins under Brady Hoke and were accused of “quitting” many time last year by their new coach Jim Harbaugh. As I stated when other fifth year guys left the team, they didn’t want to put in the work required under the new staff and that is fine, Jim Harbaugh is not running a country club as it appeared Brady Hoke was in Ann Arbor. Miller, Countess and Heitzman are all good young men who have bright futures ahead of them, but if you know there is no football future after college, why keep up with the grind, or worse yet, subject yourself to uncertainty? Miller retired, Countess transferred to Auburn (and may have an NFL future) and Heitzman took a fifth year in a lesser program and conference, there is nothing wrong with what any of these guys did, they made the right decisions for themselves.
Many people will claim, as the newspaper from Columbus appears to be trying to do, that Harbaugh is running off guys to free up scholarships but that isn’t true. If Harbaugh thought any of these guys could play he would have sold them on the program and tried to keep them around. They clearly aren’t good fits for the program and were better off transferring out in the spring than to wait until fall practice started. Harbaugh is at Michigan to win, NOT let the inmates run the asylum as they did under Hoke. It’s a new world in Ann Arbor.