Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh has never even won a division title in his eight seasons as a college coach, but, to hear him tell it, he is working against a stacked deck.
Jeff Arnold of Forbes reviewed John U. Bacon's book Overtime: Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines at the Crossroads of College Football and revealed the Michigan coach said, "[It's] hard to beat the cheaters" when discussing recruiting against SEC schools.
Harbaugh wasn't the only one associated with Michigan who believes the school is working at a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting.
"Name another school that competes with the bluebloods athletically—we're talking Ohio State, Alabama, Clemson—while competing with the bluebloods academically: Stanford, Northwestern, Princeton," Michigan director of recruiting, Matt Dudek, said, per Arnold. "Most of the players we recruit are good enough to play for Alabama or Clemson and smart enough to play for Ivy League schools. If you don't win in the classroom on Monday, you won't be here for many Saturdays."
It's hard to argue that the Wolverines have been competing at the same level athletically as Ohio State, Alabama and Clemson.
Those are the only three programs to win a national championship in the College Football Playoff era, while Michigan hasn't even reached the Big Ten title game during that span. What's more, the archrival Buckeyes are 4-0 against Harbaugh since he took over the Wolverines and are coming off a 62-39 throttling in last year's game.
Ohio State was able to do that all while finishing a middling 20th in the country in money spent on recruiting during the 2018 fiscal year, per a study by Stadium.
Michigan was notably seventh, while SEC schools Georgia, Alabama and Texas A&M came in at first, second and fifth, respectively.
Harbaugh may believe he is working against cheaters, but he has still had success on the trail. According to 247Sports' composite rankings, Michigan landed the eighth-best recruiting class in 2019.
Now, all that's left is to convert that into championships on the field.