Whose Future Is Brighter: MSU or Michigan? Guess What ESPN Thinks
The Harbaugh Effect is a powerful thing.
Take, for example, its ability to captivate the entire Detroit media with shirtless photos, a la Kim Kardashian. Or the way it has garnered adulation and crowns before a game has even been played.
And now, the Harbaugh Effect is rearing its head in college football futures.
A panel of ESPN's college football writers rank Michigan 15th in their Future Power Rankings, and Michigan State 18th. The "experts" think U-M will catch and surpass the Spartans, and maybe even Ohio State.
"If (the Wolverines) improve certain areas, they're going to have a chance to compete with Michigan State and Ohio State," ESPN's Adam Rittenberg writes. "The offensive line has to get better. If that's one place where you can see progress, they'll be on a better course in the following two years. In Years 2 and 3, depending on quarterback development and if the offensive line can course-correct, they should be competing for a league title. I think that would be disappointing if they weren't because of the staff and their ability to recruit."
ESPN's Brad Edwards tempered the fanboy reactions with some measure of reality: "I would be shocked if, three years from now, we think they're even with Ohio State, but I think three years is plenty of time to close that gap and become competitive. Just look at the head-to-head the last two years. Those games have been close. It's not like Ohio State is blowing them off the field. It's just overall where there's disparity."
Here's what the panel had to say about MSU's future: "There's a decent chance Michigan State could be the odd team out with Michigan, Ohio State and, to a lesser extent, Penn State surging in the division.
"One position -- quarterback -- could determine whether the Spartans fade in the coming seasons. In 2016, MSU will have to replace Connor Cook. It isn't dissimilar to 2012, when the Spartans struggled to find a successor for Kirk Cousins. It took a year-plus before Cook emerged. In the tougher division, MSU might not have a year to spend looking for its next quarterback."