Michigan had a monumental 2021, ending an eight-game losing streak against Ohio State en route to a Big Ten title and the program's first College Football Playoff appearance.
When speaking about the Wolverines at a charity golf event, per MLive's Aaron McMann, former Buckeyes quarterback Kirk Herbstreit wasn't bitter about seeing his former rival flourish. However, the College GameDay and new NFL commentator for Amazon's Thursday Night Football is interested to see how Jim Harbaugh's squad responds to significant roster turnover.
Five Michigan players, including No. 2 pick Aidan Hutchinson, were selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. The defense also lost safety Daxton Hill and linebacker David Ojabo to the pros, creating a challenge for the school's hopes of staying atop the conference hierarchy.
"When you lose those kind of players, yeah, you can recruit and have great players step in — but who can provide the energy and the leadership when you’re on the road and need to come up with the big plays?" Herbstreit said. "That’s my biggest concern, or thing, that I want to see from them."
Led by five-star cornerback Will Johnson, Michigan recruited three defenders ranked in 247Sports' top-100 class of 2022 recruits. Yet replacing Hutchinson and Co. won't be easy.
Despite his Ohio State ties, Herbstreit called Michigan's success "great … for their program, and for the Big Ten." He witnessed first-hand how happy the school was when the Wolverines earned a 42-27 victory over the Buckeyes.
"As an Ohio State guy, that day was tough to watch as a fan," Herbstreit said. "I stood on the sideline and watched the game. But to see how they celebrated and how much it meant to their program, long term, that’s great for their program."
He doesn't mind some parity after Michigan defeated its nemesis just twice from 2001 to 2019.
"I love when that rivalry, personally, is healthy and competitive and kind of going back and forth. I don’t like to see it one-sided."
We'll see if the Wolverines remain a worthy adversary for Herbstreit's alma mater in 2022.