In the weeks leading up to the big game versus Ohio State last Saturday, Michigan Head Football Coach Jim Harbaugh had his team and fanbase thinking national championship as they went through their soft Big Ten schedule on what they referred to as their “revenge tour”. They had shirts printed up, the media was behind them, as well as their top-ranked defense in the nation. Their fan base grew cockier than normal and they were all talking about how they were going to blow out Ohio State because “this was their year.”
But Buckeye quarterback Dwayne Haskins, Head Coach Urban Meyer, and the team made sure that didn’t happen. They knew what was on the line. A Big Ten East Division championship, a shot at a Big Ten championship, and a possibility if the cards fall Ohio State’s way, a shot at the college football playoff. Not to mention bringing their rivals shot at a playoff to a screeching halt. And they did that behind record-setting performances from Haskins throwing for 6 touchdowns en route to a 62-39 massacre of the Wolverines in front a scarlet and grey clad crowd.
It was the most points Ohio State ever put up in the rivalry and the most anyone has ever scored on Michigan. The Buckeyes exposed the Wolverine’s defense and just outplayed them. Woody Hayes would have been proud. Of course, Woody would have probably run the score up more instead of assuming the victory formation at the end of the game.
But the big difference in the game was Harbaugh was outcoached. Plain and simple. Urban Meyer outcoached him the whole game including making adjustments at halftime to keep the Buckeyes at full throttle and to not let up at all. This was Meyer’s 7th victory against his rivals from up north with no losses. And Harbaugh’s fourth loss in a row to Meyer, one in each year he has been coaching at Michigan.
After the game, Harbaugh took questions at the press conference giving generic answers until the reporters started questioning him on suspended players. He then became angry and stormed out. As a reporter, we are obligated to report true news and facts and sometimes will ask some tough questions. As a coach making 8 million dollars a year Harbaugh should either answer or lightly deflect the questions and represent his team and university much better than what he did. I understand the anger of the loss but you still need to remain a professional.
No sooner than the game expired social media was covered with people wanting him fired. I guess not being able to beat your biggest rival will get people fired up that way. But these are the same people that when he was hired embraced the new coach wholeheartedly. There were signs and shirts welcoming him home, t-shirts calling him the messiah. These were shirts being sold in big box chain stores too, not just your homemade ones. And most everyone started to hate on Ohio State even more.
In his first year, he went 10-3 and won his Citrus Bowl game but lost to in-state rival Michigan State and got walloped 42-13 by Ohio State. In his second year, his team went 10-3 again, losing to their biggest rivals again and losing their bowl game to Florida State. But things were looking up. Just wait until he gets his players in. His third year was just pathetic for an $8 million a year man, going 8-5 and being the only Big Ten team to not win their bowl game. But who wins a national championship in their third year right? Well, Nick Saban and Urban Meyer to name a couple.
Now enter this year with a new quarterback. After a close road loss to Notre Dame they rattled off 10 straight wins, although several were close (Northwestern, Indiana). But after the debacle, people are calling for Harbaugh’s head. In 4 years he is 1-2 in bowl games, has never beat his closest rival, and as one of the highest paid coaches in America, has never won a big game. But in that 4-year span, he is 38-13 with a .745 win/loss percentage. Those are very respectable numbers and many fan bases would be happy with that. But not Michigan.
Michigan fans are very fickle and want more and want it now. They haven’t won an outright National Championship since 1948 when the team only played 9 games. Their 1997 title was shared with Nebraska, a much better team than them. Nebraska knocked off the number 3 team in the nation overwhelmingly, Tennessee, while Michigan had to battle back to defeat an 8th ranked Washington State team. Tennessee went on to win the BCS championship the next year while Washington State went on the next year to only win 3 games.
Should fans be calling for Harbaugh’s job? After only 4 years, I’d say no. His record is respectable and who better is there to replace him with? While I do not think he is worth the money he is paid, because for that much money you better be bringing some hardware to your school, I would say his job is safe. Harbaugh is under contract until 2021 and I believe Michigan fans will have to hope for better things in the future from him until that time.