You want Jim Harbaugh fired? Trevor Lawrence, and one team’s big killer stat in the latest Cavalcade of Whimsy.
Sorry if this column sucks, it’s not my fault …
The fury, speed, and power of the column all become one big prisoner of inertia that soon goes oh so very, very wrong …
But the silence on this from the twittersphere was deafening during the second half …
What if I told you that a current giant of a head coach went 40-21 in his first 4.5 years at his national championship-caliber football school?
What if I told you that this guy had a 6-7 season in that run, didn’t crack the top 20 in either poll until Year Five, and whose team at the end of Year Four gave up 70 points in a total annihilation of a big bowl game?
What if I told you that after all of that, Dabo Swinney turned out to be pretty good at this coaching thing at Clemson?
After 4.5 years at Michigan, Jim Harbaugh just lost another big game.
Forget that Penn State was a nine-point favorite at home, and forget that the Wolverines were a Ronnie Bell dropped pass away from tying it up after a gutsy comeback. Jim Harbaugh lost another big game, and Twitter wasn’t happy about it.
For the record, I don’t like Michigan. Actually, it’s more like I don’t care about Michigan, other than it was the first place my horrible fake ID worked in bars. I’m not some fan, and I don’t owe the guy money or anything – at least I don’t think I do – but even after this loss, Harbaugh really is doing a much, much better job than he’s being given credit for.
Out of all the coaches at their current programs since or before 2015 – when Harbaugh took over at Michigan – only Nick, Dabo, Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst and Boise State’s Bryan Harsin have a better winning percentage.
But Harbaugh can’t win the big one, right? Last year’s team whacked a 9-4 Penn State team 42-7, beat the eventual Big Ten West champ Northwestern in Evanston, and destroyed a flawed-but-decent Wisconsin team by 25. He won the game at Michigan State, too, but no one remembers or cares about any of that, because the guy can’t beat Ohio State and his teams always whiff when they have a shot at getting into the national championship picture.
You have to win a whole lot of the other games, though, to make the big ones matter.
Has a Harbaugh Michigan team lost to Illinois the week before an epic showdown against Ohio State, like Wisconsin just did when it had the whole world there for the taking? No.
Has a Harbaugh Michigan team’s doors been blown off by a mediocre Purdue team last year or an Iowa squad the year before, like Ohio State’s did when it had the talent in place in both seasons to win a national championship? No.
Has a Harbaugh Michigan team lost to a South Carolina, like Georgia did this year? More than that, has he lost like Tennessee continues to do? Has Scott Frost been able to bring the Nebraska program back from the dead in a year and a half? How’s that UCLA rebuild coming along under Chip Kelly? Should we be making plans now for Miami’s College Football Playoff parade? Do you have your rooms booked yet for Texas A&M’s trip to the SEC Championship?
Harbaugh has lost 16 games so far, and assuming Penn State and Wisconsin will be double-digit victory programs this season, only one of those defeats – the 14-13 thriller at Iowa in 2016 – was to a team that didn’t finish with at least ten wins.
It’s so hard to win 43 college football games in 4.5 seasons no matter where you’re at. So to all the people on social media who lashed out, and to all of the Harbaugh haters, and to all of those who want to see him gone and don’t appreciate what he’s been able to do …
You’re not totally wrong.
I might be the President of the Harbaugh Apologists Club, but if you believe that Michigan is MICHIGAN and should be beating Ohio State, winning Big Ten titles, and going to the College Football Playoff on a regular basis … yeah. We all do, and you’ve got a more than valid point considering there’s recent precedent for a smoothly upgraded transfer of power.
Mark Richt – feel better, Coach – was able to get Georgia painfully close to greatness, but couldn’t quite get over the hump. In stepped Kirby Smart, and kaboom.
It could be argued that Bob Stoops hit a ceiling – a very, very high one – at Oklahoma, and Lincoln Riley has been able to somehow make the program even more amazing.
David Shaw was able to take what Harbaugh created at Stanford and go to a whole other level, with three Pac-12 titles and two Rose Bowl victories.
But in the be-careful-what-you-wish-for department, Nebraska launched Bo Pelini after he won nine games or more in seven straight seasons and went to four conference championships. He “couldn’t win the big games,” got canned, and the program has gone 27-30 since then.
But this isn’t just some guy we’re talking about. This isn’t Richt or Stoops, who were both nearing the end of their respective high-end coaching lines. Yeah, you’d take Riley in a heartbeat, and Shaw has been incredible up until the last two seasons, but this is the Michigan Man coaching Michigan.
(BTW, speaking of that, different time and MUCH different era in the way the world worked, but Bo Schembechler didn’t win his first bowl game until his 12th season at Michigan. But I digress.)
You don’t just replace Harbaugh with some rising coach who’s doing a decent job overachieving at some other gig, and you don’t take a flier on some hot assistant prospect.
Harbaugh deniers, you can be disappointed, but are you venting just to vent, or do you really want Jim Harbaugh gone after winning 73% of his games?
You got a plan, son?
With all of that said, you know what’s coming in full-force this week.
Either 1) Michigan loses to Notre Dame, and the Harbaugh backlash will thunder down on America and beyond, or 2) Michigan beats Notre Dame, and it will be blown off until he beats Ohio State.