Ohio State has consistently been the most dominant program in the Big Ten conference over the last two decades, having won (or shared) a Big Ten title in 10 of the last 20 seasons. If there’s a blueprint that exists for how to succeed in the modern college football era within the Big Ten, Ohio State has created it.
Historically speaking, the state of Ohio has aided in much of Michigan’s success throughout the years. Two of the Wolverines three Heisman Trophy winners (Desmond Howard and Charles Woodson) were born in the state of Ohio and played high school football in the state of Ohio. Michigan’s most revered head coach, Bo Schembechler, was born in the State of Ohio, played football in the state of Ohio, and began his coaching career in the state of Ohio. Schembechler’s successor, Gary Moeller, was born in the state of Ohio, played linebacker at Ohio State, and began his coaching career in the state of Ohio as part of Schembechler’s staff at Miami University.
More recently, Jim Harbaugh’s 2016 squad (his best team by far since arriving in Ann Arbor) was full of talent from the state of Ohio. Guys like De’Veon Smith, Mike McCray, Dymonte Thomas, Taco Charlton, Ben Gideon, Chris Wormley, and Jake Butt all began their playing careers in the Buckeye state. They were also part of Brady Hoke's recruiting classes.
Since the arrival of Jim Harbaugh, the state of Ohio has almost become an afterthought in terms of recruiting. Harbaugh’s six recruiting classes since arriving in Ann Arbor have brought in just 12 players from the state of Ohio, while the previous six recruiting classes prior to his arrival netted a total of 41 players from the Buckeye state. It appears to be more of the same for Harbaugh’s 2021 recruiting class, as just one player (safety Rod Moore) from the state of Ohio is currently committed to the Wolverines.
For whatever reason, Michigan has drifted away from the state that has traditionally played such an important role in its success.
It remains to be seen whether or not it will be Jim Harbaugh or another head coach roaming the sidelines in Ann Arbor in the near future. The only thing we can be certain of is this: If Michigan hopes to reclaim it’s spot atop the Big Ten conference anytime soon, the state of Ohio will likely play a critical role in helping them get there.