Tuesday Question: Grading Jim Harbaugh
Q: What grade would you give the Jim Harbaugh era after 4.5 years? …
The issue for Harbaugh hasn’t been the results. It’s been the results vs. the expectations. The 2016 team probably should have done more. They’ve yet to develop a steady presence at quarterback under a former quarterback.
They’ve struggled in big games. But they’ve still won consistently. If Michigan fans want to make a change. That’s fine. They just better remember the last few times they’ve had to go find a coach and be prepared to deal with the consequences.
Quick to forget Brady Hoke and Rich Rodriguez. Neither one of those guys was the number one choice at the time (see Les Miles and Jim Harbaugh) and look how that turned out.
I’ve advocated for a change because I think the Harbaugh “thing” may have run its course. Something is missing as far as them getting over the hump. But a change should only be made if they have a candidate clearly in mind. Otherwise, it’s nice to get a minimum of nine wins every year.
As the President of the Jim Harbaugh Apologists Club, here’s my problem.
If you’re giving him anything less than a B, then what do you give Scott Frost? Nebraska needed a rebuild, right? Michigan went 5-7 the year before Harbaugh took over.
What grade do you give Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M? Oh, but he gets a break because he has to play Alabama and Clemson. He inherited a better situation than Harbaugh had to deal with, and all is apparently fine after going 13-7 to start his era.
So if you don’t like what Harbaugh has done, does Willie Taggart get an F- at Florida State? Does Chip Kelly get a P at UCLA?
What grade do you give Ed Orgeron at the immediate moment? He has won as many conference championships and gone to as many College Football Playoffs as Harbaugh has.
Of course Michigan should be stronger against the bigger teams, but in terms of straight wins, no losses against brutal teams, and a 73% winning clip, give him credit for being really, really good, but his era hasn’t been everything it should be.
Give him a rock-solid B.
What would I give the Jim Harbaugh era? Do you really want to ask an Ohio State publisher that question?
Let’s see, where do I start? No, seriously, here’s the deal. I hear everyone talk about being too harsh on Harbaugh and that he’s brought the program back to respectability. And while yeah, that’s true in a sense, is it really all that difficult to improve on what Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke did there? And how do you define respectability for a Michigan program that is now seemingly taking comfort in moral victories?
The reality is that Harbaugh wasn’t brought in to just get the all-time winningest program – so all Wolverine fans like to point out – back to respectability. He was lured there with a lot of money to get the Michigan program back among the elite. Instead, so far he has zero championships, zero wins over Ohio State, and just one bowl win. Perhaps the most positive stat is the fact that he’s gone .500 against rival Michigan State.
So, all that being said … as an outside perspective from a rival site, I’d give Jim Harbaugh a D+ for at least getting back to bowl games and boosting the sale of khakis at the GAP in Ann Arbor. Most Ohio State fans hope he stays there forever, and we all know why.
I’d give Jim Harbaugh a B.
He took over a Michigan program that was in disarray, with systemic problems, deeper than most realized. His biggest problem now is getting over two humps: winning in big road games and Ohio State — the latter of which only got better while Michigan was dwindling.
Despite some lopsided losses the past year, Michigan is now, at its base, back to where Lloyd Carr had the program. His recruiting has elevated the team, as well, but some misses and departures have continued to hamper things. Oddly, higher end players aren’t developing as well as some of those he’s identified.
So a B seems right. Without him, Michigan would have been in worse shape. Patience is still required, even if the fan base doesn’t want to accept that.
Yes, Harbaugh has certainly done a good job infusing Michigan with talent and recovering from the RichRod/Hoke eras. But when you’re one of the highest-paid coaches in the country, with a very highly-paid staff, who came to Michigan as a savior riding an incredible hype train, you have to have more than just one Big Ten East division second place to your name.
For whatever reason, Michigan under Harbaugh has consistently failed in the biggest spots and the primary reason he was brought to Ann Arbor was to succeed in those moments. It’s a very tough standard, sure, but that’s the standard and they’ve continually come up short.
The main goal for Jim Harbaugh going to Michigan was to win national titles but he can not even get to the Big Ten championship game. Harbaugh does have three seasons of 10 wins and a pair New Year’s Six bowl game showings but both were loses.
2019 was to be the year for the Wolverines to make the playoffs and that goal was smashed to pieces by losing two league games to ranked teams in Wisconsin and Penn State. Harbaugh seems to be the lesser teams and has yet to beat Ohio State in is tenure.
Harbaugh has improved the program compared to Richi Rodriguez and Brady Hoke’s tenure but he has not taken Michigan to the heights that fans, boosters, and alumni feel the team should be at.
As for a grade, C+ and that is because expectations were sky high from day one with basically a national championship or bust.
Harbaugh grade: D-
Harbaugh’s era gets a D-. Going 0-4 vs. Ohio State and 1-3 in bowl games is not what’s expected of Michigan football. The Wolverines did post three 10-3 campaigns during Harbaugh’s first four years – they were 8-5 record in 2017. But it’s been just enough of an embarrassing run in big games that I’d be very surprised if he’s coaching there next season.
Without a playoff appearance or a victory over the Buckeyes it can’t be any higher than a D.