Since 2005, Michigan's white starters on opening day have been 8,7,8,9,8,9,9,8,12,11,10,10,8,7,6 and 5 in 2020. They project to start 7 in 2021. This number is buoyed by an all-white offensive line that accounts for the majority of their white scholarship players. Michigan returns from an abridged 2-4 season shortened by COVID to little fanfare. The once-proud team has been mostly mediocre since 2006. Their recent attempts for remedy have involved phasing out the recruitment of white players, as shown by the starter tallies. They are a very standard caste team. Jim Harbaugh is still the coach: his name has dried up from NFL hotlists after six unproductive years with the Wolverines. For season seven, Harbaugh signed one of the most feeble contract extensions in memory, essentially lowering his base salary and buyout clause to allow him to maintain the visage of a multi-year future. Once thought to be a “quarterback whisperer,” the retirement of Jake Rudock this past month leaves the NFL without any Harbaugh-coached quarterbacks in its ranks. Among his indignities are an 0-5 record against Ohio State, a 3-3 record against local rival Michigan State, and a 1-4 bowl record including four straight losses. It’s hard to guess the minimum Harbaugh must achieve this season to keep his job, as his name carries weight with Michigan’s decision-making class of boosters and administrators. Josh Gattis enters his third year as the (black) offensive coordinator and has yet to meet expectations for innovation. His mantra of “speed in space” is a code word for black players in a spread formation. Michigan occasionally uses jumbo sets and found limited use in the past for former fullback standout Ben Mason, leading the internet community to speculate that perhaps Harbaugh kept a hand in the play-calling pot. This conveniently gives Gattis apologists a built-in excuse for the pervasive offensive futility. On the defensive side, Harbaugh tapped his brother John’s personnel pool and hired Mike MacDonald, the Ravens linebackers coach, to coordinate the defense. MacDonald has no college coaching experience and will rely on his pro resume as a selling point to recruits. MacDonald replaces Don Brown, a mostly-excellent old veteran who had drawn ire for getting torched regularly in the Ohio State matchup each year. Brown would occasionally find a few white players under his recruitment umbrella through his ties to the northeast. Don’t expect any more of that with MacDonald and the other new staff members. Michigan will shift to adopt Baltimore’s 3-4 base defense. While there aren’t many white players to worry about anyway, this means that future pros Aidan Hutchinson and Braiden McGregor will be rush linebackers going forward rather than defensive ends. The quarterback position seems to have an answer in Cade McNamara, who replaced black flop Joe Milton last year and drastically improved the team in limited healthy action. Dylan McCaffery has transferred to play for his father Ed at D2 Northern Colorado after being disappointed by the coaching staff’s buildup to the 2020 season. I’m not personally convinced Milton would have been the choice if McCaffery stayed, but their selection of Milton over a clearly superior McNamara does not instill confidence. Behind McNamara is Mississippi State transfer Alan Bowman and super freshman JJ McCarthy. McCarthy may end up as #2 to soak up some snaps in an effort to keep him engaged throughout the new 'transfer era’ of college football. He is the highest rated quarterback recruit in school history and projects as a multi-year starter in the future. It’s tough for any non-elite program to recruit quarterbacks directly in the wake of a star like McCarthy. Another new John Harbaugh alum on staff is quarterbacks coach Matt Weiss. The school of thought is that you would sign a “project” player with low ranking but high upside, which in football terms is code for a black quarterback with poor accuracy. With McCarthy on campus, Weiss has exclusively recruited black quarterbacks for the next two classes in an attempt to pull Michigan toward full diversity. Despite not having much deep-ball success due to underachieving wide receivers and inconsistent QB play, the Wolverines have also not had a star tight end emerge for some time. Their best chance this season is Luke Schoonmaker, who is not a starter by name but should effectively split duty. Joel Honigford has lost 50 lbs this offseason as he performed the standard “white man decathlon” of bouncing around positions to fill out roster needs. Michigan last offered a scholarship to a white wide receiver in 2017 (Oliver Martin, who was pushed out during Josh Gattiss’ first preseason in 2018). Before him, it was Drew Dileo, who played from 2010-2013. The Wolverines have amazingly retained a “snow plow” offensive line with just a couple of exceptions on the full depth chart. Tackle Ryan Hayes will probably be the highest drafted in the near future; however, there are multiple future pros in this position group. On the defensive line, former walk-on Jess Speight (brother of ex-QB Wilton Speight) has hustled and lunchpailed his way into the defensive line rotation. I am hoping for a breakthrough from Julius Welschof, now an upperclassman from Germany with notable athleticism and size who has served several years of racial apprenticeship at this stage. Dominick Guidice was Michigan’s lone white defensive recruit this past cycle, carrying the ignominy of the lowest ranking from the recruiting services (predictably). He won’t see the field yet, but let's hope he perseveres. Aidan Hutchinson is a likely first round pick as an edge linebacker. Hutchinson will likely be considered the team’s best player throughout the year. The formation change has inspired a weight drop from 278 in 2019 to a newly-reported 265. He has hopefully recovered well from a season-ending ACL tear. Braiden McGregor is a Hutchinson clone two years his junior, also returning from similar injury. It would be a pleasant surprise if both could make it onto the field at the same time. Gabe Newburg is also projected to rotate into this strong position group. Missing from last year is strong side linebacker Ben VanSumeren, who was not flattered by the new coaching staff and formation. He transferred to Michigan State and will be joined there by his highly-touted younger brother Alex, a nose tackle. Former walk-on linebacker Adam Shibley, who worked his way into a couple of spot starts last year, transferred to become a walk-on at Notre Dame. The Wolverines have not signed a white defensive back since safety Ray Vinopal in 2010. The last starter was former walk-on safety Jordan Kovacs in 2012. Starters: QB: Cade McNamara OL: Ryan Hayes, Andrew Steuber, Karsen Barnhart, Andrew Vastardis, Zak Zinter OLB: Aidan Hutchinson Backups: QB: JJ McCarthy, Alan Bowman, Dan Villari OL: Trevor Keegan, Nolan Rumler, Reece Atteberry, Jeffrey Persi, Greg Crippen, Griffin Korican, Tristan Bounds TE: Luke Schoonmaker, Matthew Hibner, Louis Hansen DL: Jess Speight, Julius Welschof OLB: Braiden McGregor, Gabe Newburg, Joey Velazquez S/PR: Caden Kolesar Michigan has an impressive fleet of non-scholarship walk-on players at forbidden positions. It is rather amazing the stark contrast between these practice squad members and the favored black players who are actually allowed to see game action. We can only wonder how reliably the “meritocracy” system extends from the practice field. DB: Trevor Andrews, Christian Boivin, Caden Kolesar, Joshua Luther, Andrew Russell, Joe Taylor, Matt Torey RB: Lucas Andrighetto, Danny Hughes, Nico Tiberia WR: Christian Bartholomew, Jake Friedman, Mathew Harrison, Peyton O’Leary, Will Rolapp, Sam Staruch, Jake Thaw Walk-on senior DL Joey George is getting some preseason buzz out of practice and may crack the deep rotation; the same goes for lacrosse standout Andrew Russell, who plays safety.