The Michigan Wolverines didn’t release a roster for the 2017 football season until right before the season started.
Proud to announce the 2017 Michigan Football roster. pic.twitter.com/zc3VejbU1R— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) August 30, 2017
Every other team in the country (or pretty close to it) had long put out at least a fall camp roster. The Wolverines didn’t put one out in a new media guide, and the one on their official website still included current NFL players like Jabrill Peppers and Jourdan Lewis.
Then, in UM’s game notes for the opener against Florida, the Wolverines included a roster of nothing but departed players.
Before the release, a reporter in New Jersey tried to compel the release of UM’s official roster.
NJ Advance Media filed a public records request on Aug. 3, reporter Ryan Dunleavy writes. Michigan is a public school, and its documents are generally subject to state discovery laws, though there are plenty of exemptions and ways to muddy their release.
Michigan’s Freedom of Information Act gives the school five business days to respond to records requests. But the media company says it got this reply earlier this month:
"Due to the large number of requests currently being processed by this office, it will not be possible to respond to your request within the five-day period accorded by the Michigan Freedom of Information Act. However, under Section 5 (2) (d) of the Act, the University is permitted to extend the deadline for not more than 10 business days beyond the initial due date. The University will respond to your request on or before August 25, 2017."
"We have not posted a 2017 season roster and won't until the first game week at the end of this month," an official said, via Dunleavy.
The Gators’ coach had a sense of humor about it, though Florida’s also not named its starting QB, as Harbaugh pointed out.
McElwain: "We haven't gotten into Michigan prep at all. When you guys get their roster let me know who we're playing." #Gators— Nick de la Torre (@NickdelaTorreGC) August 23, 2017
There was little question about what Michigan’s roster looks like, though.
Most of UM’s eligible players who didn’t turn pro after last season were going to be on it, including most or all of the freshmen it signed in February. Every team has defections and additions in the months leading up to the season, but there’s not much element of surprise here. The vast majority of the roster could’ve been projected without much research.
Harbaugh is notoriously stingy about the team information he releases publicly.
Last year, Michigan didn’t release game-week depth charts, unlike virtually all of its opponents. That inspired Colorado’s public relations staff, ahead of CU’s game at Michigan, to release a parody depth chart with names such as Elmer Fudd, Butch Cassidy, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on it. (Happy Gilmore was the punter.)
“I think that just going in, week in and week out, there’s so much that can change, and if something does change, he doesn’t wanna advertise it, so he just doesn’t put it out any week,” offensive tackle Mason Cole said last month.