Thursday, March 31, 2016

More Than A Spring Game: Jim Harbaugh re-defining the meaning of an off-season

                                Photo Credit: Geno Green

No, this is not an April Fools Joke.

The Michigan Wolverines football team charters new territory as they will play in the first spring game at Michigan Stadium under the lights on April 1 (6 p.m., BTN/BTN2Go).

For coach Jim Harbaugh, changing the annual ritual from the traditional Saturday afternoon is the latest in a series of aggressive tactics to tinker with an off-season in which most college football fans have never seen.

From sleepovers on the recruiting trail, all the way to an award-esque ceremony at Signing With The Stars on Feb. 3, Harbaugh has fans, players and even coaches' attention whether good or bad.

Celebrities such as Tom Brady, Ric Flair and Jeff Gordon showing up on campus this off-season is not a circus act, but a way to re-define a brand, which for all purposes was left on the side of the curb after Michigan failed to make a bowl game and fired Brady Hoke after the 2014 season.

Friday's spring game brings a lot of unpredictability to the forefront in terms of which players to watch for or even a possible celebrity sighting. 

Notable off-season additions/changes:

Change is inevitable in college athletics as seniors graduate and coaches fluctuate from one school to another due to termination or for a better opportunity.

Michigan felt the wrath first hand with defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin taking the Maryland head coaching gig, but for Harbaugh, there was no room for crying in football.

The response was swift as Don Brown left Boston College to take Durkin's spot as Michigan's defensive coordinator.

Brown will have plenty of tools to work with, highlighted by freshman phenom Rashan Gary.

The defensive lineman was the No. 1 recruit in the country and committed on National Signing Day during Signing With The Stars. 

Gary will join the team upon completion of the current semester at Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey.

Plenty of energy is in the air in Ann Arbor and the Spring Game should provide a small sample into the 2016 Michigan football season.

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Follow Geno Green on Twitter @TheGenoGreen.