Harbaugh: Hopes and Dreams or Smoke and Mirrors

The Michigan Wolverines lost to the Ohio State Buckeyes again last Saturday. It marked the sixth straight win in this rivalry for the team from Columbus. They have also accrued 15 victories in 18 chances since the start of the new millennium.

While “The Game” has been lopsided for quite some time now, U of M was hoping that the man they brought in three years ago, Jim Harbaugh, was going to change that. So far, he has not.

He is now 0-3 against Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes and 1-2 against Michigan State and Mark Dantonio. While these guys are both some of the best coaches in the country, they aren’t making over $9 million at their alma mater. Harbaugh is the highest paid coach in all of college football but has yet to lead the maize and blue anywhere in three years besides some good seasons record wise.

Now while I am not saying Harbaugh’s three years in Ann Arbor haven’t been successful, as he has racked up back to back 10-3 records in his first two seasons with a chance to go 9-4 record this year, but that’s not what Michigan envisioned when he stepped on campus in 2015.

With all the highly ranked recruiting classes and 5-star after 5-star walking through the doors of the Big House, Michigan has had high expectations since Harbaugh took over the reins. But each season, seemingly, has started, and ended, the same way. Filled with optimism and then ending in disappointment.

2015 started off with a loss to the Utah Utes but then the Wolverines reeled off five straight wins before losing to the Spartans at home. They also lost to the Buckeyes at the Big House before beating the Florida Gators in the Citrus Bowl to go 10-3.

2016 started off even better as they ran off a 9-0 record with a win over MSU before stumbling at the end of the year. The Wolverines proceeded to lose 3 of their next 4 games, including a loss to OSU, to finish with another 10-3 record.

2017 began similarly with the Wolverines beating Florida at Jerry’s World in Arlington and starting off 4-0 before facing off against Michigan State. Harbaugh and his team once again lost to Sparty to drop to 4-1. They also lost to Penn State and Wisconsin on the way to “The Game” against Meyer’s Buckeyes. And while Michigan had a good chance to win this past Saturday with 14-0 and 20-14 leads, they ultimately couldn’t pull it out and lost 31-20.

So while Harbaugh has had a rough go and winning big games against his rivals, I believe he is still the right man for the job at the moment. After three years, a 28-10 record is not too shabby. I also believe he has brought a different mindset to the university.

While he hasn’t won anything yet, the expectations are there and they have had their chances at returning to Indy to play for the Big Ten title. Under the leadership of Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke, it felt like this team wasn’t going anywhere.

One last comparison/point I’d like to make about Harbaugh is his connection to Bo Schembechler. He played and learned under the tutelage of the Michigan great. But for all the glory that he receives, he never brought home a national championship to U of M in his 21 years as the head coach.

His teams won 13 Big Ten Conference titles, of course, but he could never win the big one. I think Harbaugh could, at the very least, bring a Big Ten title to Ann Arbor in the next few years, but will that appease anyone? Also, if they do make it to the playoffs, is that successful or is nothing short of a national championship constitute success?

So while some people’s patience may be running thin with Harbaugh, I think they need to give him a little more time. Sure, his “Signing with the Stars”, satellite camps and sleepovers may not be endearing to all, but that’s just who he is and I don’t think he is going to change. Harbaugh is an old-school, ground and pound type of coach who wants to shove it down your throat. If that style can/will work in todays college football landscape is yet to be seen.

I believe fans just need to relax and let his plan come to fruition. It hasn’t worked out completely in his first three years, but it’s still a work in progress. Of course there are things he can work on, but what coach doesn’t have room for improvement?

In a couple more years, if Michigan is still floating around at 8-4 or 9-3, or heck, even 10-2 with no Big Ten titles or playoff appearances, then this conversation needs to be revisited. But for now, U of M has the coach they want.

After all, what other option do the Wolverines have other than their “Michigan Man”?

 

 

 

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An Ode To College Gameday – Rutgers Game Prediction

by Mark Edwards

In 1993, ESPN took “College Gameday” on the road for the first time when Notre Dame hosted #1 Florida State in a November showdown.  In the 24 years since, College Gameday has become as big of a staple in College Football as Beano Cook, Keith Jackson and January 1st bowl games before them.  In honor of ESPN’s College Gameday, we are going to shake up the format for the weekly prediction.  The Block M Insider has spared no cost to bring to you the guest pickers at the end of this column. We hope you appreciate it.

INTRO- Comin’ to your city

When I first heard the song, I thought it was the Pampers truck to deliver diapers for all of the Michigan fans who have embarrassed this university/team by, quite honestly, “jumping ship” this week.  I guess a 42-13 loss to Penn State is too much to deal with.  If that’s the case, how did any of the so called “fans” make it from 2008-2010?  Was the loss disappointing?  Yes.  Was it the worst loss in the last decade?  You decide.  Here’s a list:

  1.  2007 vs Appalachian State
  2. 2015 vs Michigan State (punt snap anyone)
  3. 2014 vs Maryland
  4. 2008 at Notre Dame
  5. 2010 vs Mississippi State (technically it was 2011)
  6. 2009 vs Purdue

Okay, so the list goes on and on.  The takeaway is this:  Michigan got beat by a top tier team with the best player in college football.

SATURDAY SLATE

We welcome our top rival in Rutgers to Michigan Stadium for the 2017 Homecoming game.  It’s actually a noon kickoff.  Rutgers comes in off of a victory vs. Purdue and the best offensive mind in college football.  Uh oh!  We are in trouble.  I’m sure Chris Ash has the score of last year’s game (78-0) littered across the streets of Piscataway, New Jersey this week.  Speaking of littering, go back and take note of how many spoiled baby Michigan fans have inundated the internet with ramblings of a little petulant child who didn’t get their way at about the age of 5.  As former Colorado Head Coach Dan Hawkins once said, “This is Division One football brother.”  You know why the big boys stay the big boys?  The answer-they had to go through the process to ensure sustainability.  Michigan’s not there and if you thought they were going to lose 10 starters on defense and 12 guys to the NFL and just reload with no growing pains, you need to check your expectations.  Speaking of pains, also this team lost their starting quarterback this season.  I’m not talking about Florida State here.  However, both the Seminoles and Wolverines struggles should remind you of something.  You don’t see a backup step in and outperform a starter on a normal basis.  It’s has happened but to expect that is the pure definition of lunacy.

FEATURED PLAYER – Brandon Peters

I like Brandon Peters.  I like him because he plays for Michigan and not some other team.  With the exception of the Spring Games that he has played in, I can’t tell you much about his playing history.  Why not?  The answer is soooooo simple-I’m not at practice everyday and, in that respect, neither are you.  Michigan fans want John O’Korn to be better and most have concluded that means the next guy has to play.  Okay, that’s a perfectly popular opinion…in every sport ever.  Backup catchers, set-up relievers who should be the closers, the rookie point guard on the bench….they are all the same.  They are the most popular players on the team.  At Michigan, that has always been the backup quarterback.  Maybe Peters becomes the next Tom Brady.  Wait, I just did some research.  Tom Brady didn’t play until his fourth year on campus.  Peters in is year #2.  Hold your horses.  Trust the process.

GUEST PICKER SELECTIONS

In this week’s guest picker selections, we bring to you all of the candidates that the cry baby Michigan fan base is clamoring for.  They’re going to predict the final score and comment for the first time on their ability to do this just better than OUR COACH.

Rex

Rex Ryan – Former Jets and Bills coach now an ESPN commentator

“I like Michigan to win and win big.  How big?  Doesn’t matter but I’ll go 52-0.  As for the Michigan job, nobody can satisfy those people and speaking of satisfaction, let’s go get a God Damn snack.”

Mullen

Dan Mullen – Mississippi State Head Coach

“I’m busy working in the EESSSSSSEEEEEEEEECCCCEEEEE.  Haven’t seen much film on either team.  I could call Hugh Freeze as I’m sure he has family time now but I’ll just wing it.  Michigan has Harbaugh.  Rutgers sucks Ash.  I’ll take Michigan 42-3.  I want to clarify that my twangy style isn’t going to work in that Big Ten and especially not in the Big Ten East.  I’ll stay here and be thankful that I wasn’t hired there last time…wait the last three times.”

SchianoAtPractice

Greg Schiano – Former Rutgers Head Coach, Michigan Candidate and Current Ohio State Defensive Coordinator

“I’ve been to Rutgers.  Since the passing of Tony Soprano, things have been bad there.  Harbaugh has a 5-2 team and their fan base is seemingly losing their minds.  What other fan base does that?  Oh wait, I work in Columbus.  I know the feeling.  While it might seem that it’s never good enough, Michigan will be.  I’ll TTUN 49-0.  Don’t tell Urban I used the M word.  Speaking of M words, I’m majorly hoping that the crybaby whine ass Michigan fans run Harbaugh out of there.  It’d be the best thing for Ohio State.”

fisch

Jedd Fisch – UCLA Offensive Coordinator and former Michigan Passing Game Coordinator

“Book it.  Michigan 63, Rutgers 0.  As for all of that other crap, I believe in Jim and the fans should too.  If they don’t, they belong at the school in East Lansing.  As for my candidacy, I’m going to be just fine here in about two months.”

Rich Rod

Rich Rodriguez – Arizona Head Coach and former Michigan Head Coach

“Y’all need to just understand that y’all have a defense.  Boy, I never did.  Michigan loses to Rutgers by a score of 17-14.  I’m hoping my son Rhett is still a Michigan commit.  As for me returning, have y’all ever tasted Miss Rita’s Nacho Dip?”

jim-harbaugh

Jim Harbaugh – J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach Michigan

“The fake love is gone.  I’m not going anywhere.  So watch what the hell happens on Saturday.  Brandon Peters is progressing.  Wish I could say the same for our fan bases understanding of the process.  You throw a snowball at me, I throw a rock at you.  Back to work.”

As for my prediction, I’ll go with Michigan 56, Rutgers 0.  Why?  Just to see the fan base have to sit a week with nothing to complain about.