By Ethan Salm
Michigan is a football program that has a fan base that expects them to win games and compete for titles year in and year out. This is why they brought in former San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh, a Michigan alum, was seen to be the answer to the woes that the Wolverines experienced under Brady Hoke. While Michigan has won more football games under Harbaugh than they did under Hoke, has Jim Harbaugh really accomplished what he was brought in to do?
The answer to this question is no. Harbaugh was brought in to help the Wolverines compete for a national championship. He had just recently made Super Bowl and playoff appearances in the NFL and Michigan expected him to do the same thing in Ann Arbor. Jim Harbaugh hasn’t won the Big 10 East yet at Michigan. He has not appeared in the Big 10 championship once. This means he really hasn’t been close to a College Football Playoff either. Winning 10 games simply isn’t enough. It takes more than that to compete for a Big Ten championship especially in the east.
Putting all of that aside let’s look at Harbaugh’s record against his rivals. If he is not competing for a championship, surely he is winning rivalry games, right? Wrong. Harbaugh is an abysmal 0-5 against Ohio State. In 2016 the Buckeyes won by only a field goal but every other year it hasn’t really even been close. Do 56-27, 62-39, 42-13, and 31-20 sound like competitive football games? Home or away it doesn’t matter. They cannot beat Ohio State and that was one of the most important things in Jim Harbaugh’s job description. Harbaugh against Michigan State is a little different story. He is 3-2 against the Spartans with some big wins and some questionable losses that probably shouldn’t be pinned on him (the punter fumbling as time expired). I will give him credit for his success against the in-state rival but everyone in the college football world knows that Michigan vs Ohio State is more important that Michigan vs Michigan State.
Next comes the bowl record. The Wolverines have made a bowl under Harbaugh every single year, but they have only managed to win 1 of those games. They have shown an inability to compete with teams like Florida (2018) and have been beaten by teams like South Carolina (2017) and Florida State (2016) in bowl season. In terms of hardware under Harbaugh, the Wolverines have one bowl win, the 2015 Citrus Bowl, in his first year as head coach.
In 2015 Harbaugh came in and went 10-3. For an average college football team that would be enough to keep your job. Michigan isn’t average though. They have the 5-star recruits. They have the top tier facilities. They have financial backing from generous donors and a wealthy athletic department. With all of those things, Harbaugh needs to win more than 10 games. There has been no progression from that point. They haven’t done better in the seasons since. There hasn’t been movement towards the goals that management set for him in his term as head coach. When you are given a job and you show that you are unable to complete that job, your employer finds someone else to do it. While I think it is unlikely that Michigan fires Harbaugh, I believe his time should be up in Ann Arbor. It is time to find someone that can compete with the big guns of the Big 10 and maybe, you know, win something.
Edited by Emma Moloney | firstname.lastname@example.org