The indicators are all there that this is Harbaugh’s last year with the Wolverines. The 1-3 start is the worst on the program since 1967, two years before Bo Schembechler arrived. There has been a disturbing incapacity and continues to develop quarterbacks. The deficiency only played a fraction of a 28-0 halftime deficit on Saturday night against Wisconsin, the most important in Michigan Stadium’s 93-year history.
Harbaugh hasn’t landed a top 50 quarterback in his previous six recruiting classes. That’s 300 players. He’s mostly done transfers, including Shea Patterson, an import from Ole Miss who was 247Sports Composite’s No.1 quarterback for 2016. Joe Milton is Harbaugh’s first high school rookie to start in this role. The position was opened to competition after the loss to Wisconsin.
Worse yet, it looked like the Wolverines on Saturday lost what coaches like to call their “level of competition” against the Badgers. Asked Monday about the team’s state of mind, Michigan cornerback Gemon Green said, “It’s a little depressed right now. ”
It will be on Harbaugh to regain that mood five weeks after his sixth season at Michigan. Asked specifically if the buy-in – that level of competition – was still there for his players, the coach replied, “Just as we’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves, neither are we going to find any ‘apologies. that is, don’t stop, don’t slow down. Trust is really faith, faith that you can find a way to get the job done. ”
Hope, however, is not always a strategy. The state of Ohio has rarely been this far ahead of not just Michigan, but just about all college football. Perhaps this is where the exit strategy begins.
Michigan is proving to be one of the worst teams in the Big Ten. The Spartans’ only victory is over Michigan. Harbaugh is now 1-6 against the school’s two biggest rivals. (Winless vs. the Buckeyes.) His contract is among FBS’s six shorter ones, all of which expire in January 2022. An extension – even impacted by COVID-19 – has not been forthcoming.
It’s always been difficult with Harbaugh. He remains Michigan’s most successful coach since Lloyd Carr. All the bragging was fun. Part was justified. Harbaugh had gone to a Super Bowl. At the start of the season, only 10 coaches had a better winning percentage than Harbaugh at their current school (0.723).
He has won 10 games three times in Michigan. But this season is heading towards the worst of his 13 years as a college or pro coach.
It’s also complicated with Michigan. The Ohio state lawsuit seems futile – at least for now. Michigan likes to think of itself as an equal, but consider this incredible statistic: The Wolverines have won 12 games just once since 1905, the last national championship season in 1997. During that time, the Buckeyes have won at least 12 games seven times. – since 2012.
It may be about managing excessive expectations.
Then there is the thorny situation of the departure of a legend from Michigan. It is assumed here that Harbaugh will not be fired. He will leave for the NFL or there will be some kind of mutual agreement.
After that, if not Harbaugh, then who? The two best candidates could be Urban Meyer and Luke Fickell. Both are almost impossible in Michigan given that Meyer coached at Ohio State. Fickell, currently a Cincinnati coach and a native of Columbus, Ohio, played there and then was an assistant under Jim Tressel and Meyer.
Meyer forced many shows – Michigan among them – to look at themselves in the mirror with this pre-game breakdown from Fox on how losing shows get to be that way.
If it’s not Meyer or Fickell, watch out for recently fired Texans coach Bill O’Brien and Iowa State’s Matt Campbell. If Brian Kelly doesn’t retire at Notre Dame, the list of places he might consider going to college is limited.
But that’s speculation for a few weeks from now.
“I’m full of energy as a coach,” Harbaugh said as he removed his glasses Monday during his weekly Zoom availability. “… It’s in my eyes. I am happy, excited to be a coach on this day. Like I said before, I will never stop, I will never stop, I will never slow down. guys. I don’t think I could live without it. This is really what I’m going to do. ”
It’s natural to wonder how fragile Michigan can be right now. He was certainly overwhelmed at times.
“You just have to look at the cuts… there’s always a fielder who doesn’t do their mission well,” Green said. “There is always a person who is not doing their job. ”
Twice a week, Clemson brings in a sports psychologist to take the mental temperature of the nation’s No.4 team. The combination of COVID-19, isolation and virtual learning makes it a necessity.
“We’re creating an environment where that’s not a problem,” said Tony Elliott, Tigers offensive coordinator, of counseling assistance.
Clemson is not unique. They are not the only ones going through new and challenging problems. Losing only adds to the misery.
“It’s not an everyday affair, it’s an hour-to-hour thing,” said UCLA coach Chip Kelly, whose team is at .500 for the first time in three seasons. ” Everything changes. You have to have the ability to be nimble and to pivot according to the circumstances. It is our lighthouse and our North Star. We are not going to ask them to do anything that would put them in danger. ”
It’s just weird to see Michigan so badly so far away with Harbaugh.
“It’s really the first time I’ve lost a record,” Green said. “Even growing up in pee, I didn’t have a losing record. I feel like I am handling it well emotionally. [the coaches] make? They are not on the ground with us. “