Paul Finebaum is no stranger to making headlines, and added another Monday morning when he spoke with 247Sports and said Michigan SoccerJim Harbaugh is “the most overvalued coach in the country.”
“There is no way around it,” said Finebaum on Monday. “For what he does, for this program, he wins the crown. I believed in them many times. Maybe they will win at home. And I’m not a hater. I’ve just been abused by Jim Harbaugh too often to believe that he could do it. He cannot do it. ”
Free Press sports writers Orion Sang and Rainer Sabin discuss Finebaum’s comments below.
[ Paul Finebaum: Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh is ‘most overrated’ college coach ]
Sang: So… any thoughts on Finebaum’s comments? He and Harbaugh already have a well-documented history, so today’s words aren’t much of a surprise.
Sabin: It’s true that they’ve been going back and forth since Harbaugh’s arrival in Michigan. I wrote a story about their setbacks over the years and how they almost settled their “feud” last summer. But I think Finebaum is right here. Harbaugh was to win championships. He was paid accordingly and is now expected to earn more than $ 8 million this season.
Sang: Of course, I think we can all agree that Harbaugh’s tenure did not go as many thought (especially against Ohio State). But is he really overrated as a coach? I wouldn’t take him in front of the big names in the sport, but he also rebuilt the program and had a solid winning percentage.
Regarding salary, this is a subject I come and go on – it has paid a lot, but isn’t that the reality of college football right now? Well-known coaches with proven experience will naturally gain a lot. He did not meet expectations on the ground, but restarted the program. And financially, the team seems to be doing very well.
I guess my overall point is that it seems to be accurately classified by most people. There is no illusion that he is one of the top three coaches in the sport right now.
Sabin: But there are coaches who were hired after Harbaugh who have accomplished more. Look no further than Kirby Smart and Ed Orgeron. If you had told me that Orgon would have won a national title and aligned with one of the best teams the sport has ever seen before Harbaugh even made it to the Big Ten Championship, I would have said you were crazy.
Jan 13, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, United States; LSU Tigers head coach Ed Orgeron raises his fists as he celebrates with quarterback Joe Burrow after a victory against the Clemson Tigers in the National College Football Playoff Championship game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports (Photo: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports)
The other thing about Harbaugh that I find somewhat disturbing is that he doesn’t really have a specialty. Nick Saban is a master in the teaching of blankets. Orgeron is an excellent recruiter. Dabo Swinney is a motivator and expert manager who has also developed an intense loyalty among his assistants, keeping the core of his staff throughout the recent Clemson race.
Harbaugh, meanwhile, ceded control of his offense to Josh Gattis – moving from the robust and pro-style system for which he became known during his stays with Stanford and the San Francisco 49ers. What is he hanging his hat on now?
Sang: I think Harbaugh has rightly earned a reputation as a coach who can turn things around quickly. He did it with the 49ers, Stanford and San Diego. Michigan fans may have blocked all memories of the 2014 season, but that program was in shambles before it arrived. He doubled the winning streak in his first season and was a miss to beat the Big Ten champion.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh watches the action during the spring game on Saturday April 13, 2019 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. (Photo: Kirthmon F. Dozier, Detroit Free Press)
Obviously, this brings us to the next point, which has already been discussed ad nauseum: When will Harbaugh beat the Ohio State? Michigan has shown it can beat Penn State and Wisconsin. He largely ignored the state of Michigan, which dominated the Wolverines for almost a decade. When you talk about Harbaugh as a coach, it should reflect the status of the program, which at this point can be summed up as “pretty good, but not elite.”
Sabin: This is exactly how I would describe Michigan under the leadership of Harbaugh. Until the Wolverines beat Ohio State and compete for a championship last November, he will continue to invite criticism. The fear that I have with him is that he did not take advantage of the enthusiasm he aroused during the first years of his mandate and that he lost this momentum.
Nick Saban won his third season in Alabama. Urban Meyer also won everything in its third season. Orgeron won the title in his fourth season at Baton Rouge. Harbaugh, meanwhile, is entering his sixth season at Ann Arbor and hasn’t really advanced the Wolverines much further than he did in the first year.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban shouts on the field during a game between Tennessee and Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, October 19, 2019. Alabama defeated Tennessee 35-13. (Photo: Caitie McMekin / News Sentinel)
Sang: Yes, he can thank Ohio State for that. Imagine how people would feel differently if Harbaugh and Michigan held their 17-7 lead in the fourth quarter of 2016 in Columbus. I agree that Michigan hasn’t entered any country, especially considering last season’s setbacks against Wisconsin and Penn State, and it’s not really where you want to be as a program . But it’s also much better than reconstruction.
I also think that Harbaugh’s inability to beat Ohio State goes back to Meyer, who arrived in Columbus three years ago. By the time Harbaugh had their first game against Ohio State, that program was already fully operational, coming out of a national championship and bringing together some of the best recruiting classes the Big Ten have ever seen. You can say it’s Harbaugh’s job to close that gap, but Meyer’s advance certainly played a role in the unbalanced nature of the rivalry.
Sabin: Indeed, recruiting is the name of college football and Ohio State has established itself as a destination program. Michigan has a lot to overcome in this regard.
But Harbaugh is paid a sum of money which indicates that he has what it takes to overcome this advantage, or at least find a way to get around it. He was supposed to beat Ohio State now and put the Wolverines on a level playing field.
Until he does, his term will be seen as disappointment in many ways. In the end, Harbaugh was damn good, but not great. And he is paid to be great.