By: Will Burchfield
Chris Spielman is a Buckeye, always will be, but he may have a soft spot for Michigan.
For one, he wanted to go there coming out of high school, only his dad, a lifelong OSU fan, talked him out of it.
For another, he thinks highly of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh — loves him, in fact.
“This is why I love the guy, man, because he pushes the envelope. He forces everybody to adjust,” Spielman told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket. “Whether it’s going on some great vacation and visiting the Pope — which I hope to do one day — or (wherever) he’s going next year, I think that Jim forces guys to be better.”
Even more importantly, Spielman went on, Harbaugh has thrust Michigan back on the recruiting map. In both of his full years as head coach, he has landed a top-10 class.
“He gets guys,” Spielman said. “The biggest attribute that Jim has is he’s one of the few guys who can go into a living room and compete with Urban Meyer for a kid. They’re on equal ground because Jim has that type of personality and swagger about him that Urban has.”
Harbaugh took over a foundering program from former head coach Brady Hoke prior to the 2015 season. The Wolverines have gone 20-6 under his watch.
“I think Jim Harbaugh is the right guy at the right time at the right place for Michigan. It was a great hire and it’s a perfect fit,” Spielman said.
There’s a lot Harbaugh has yet to accomplish, of course. He’s yet to make win a Big 10 title, he’s yet to make the College Football Playoff, and perhaps most frustrating to Michigan fans, he’s yet to beat Meyer and Ohio State.
Spielman went 1-2 against Michigan as a Buckeye.
He was also a two-time All-American and won the Lombardi Award in 1987 as the best college linebacker. The Lions selected him 29th overall in the 1988 NFL Draft.
In the HBO documentary ‘Michigan vs. Ohio State: The Rivalry,’ Spielman explained why he went to Ohio State over Michigan:
“My dad said, ‘Okay, where are you going to go?’ I said, ‘Dad, I want to go to Michigan.’ And he said, ‘You traitor. I’ll tell you where you’re going. You’re going right down 71 South and you’re going to play for the Ohio State Buckeyes. … Better not go there (Michigan). Don’t ever come home if you do.'”
Spielman’s father passed away in 2008.