Growing up in the Midwest, College Football is king. Whether you grow up rooting for Ohio State, Purdue, Michigan State, or Michigan you do it with relentless passion. With that passion, you are taught to hate your rival, but in a similar vein, you hold them in high regard when it comes to respecting the rivalry.
Michigan has been a historic football program that has been revered by some for several decades. At their peak, Bo Schembechler and Lloyd Carr led the Wolverines into national respectability by winning a litany of Big Ten Championships, 18 to be exact, and a shared National Title in 1997. At the turn of the century, UM lost its luster, but not their respect. Even when they were struggling to put a formidable product on the field, they still garnered respect from the country’s best.
After falling off the cliff with previous coaches Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke, the Wolverines were in search of a savior, and on December 29, 2014, the anointed savior arrived.
The Michigan Man himself Jim Harbaugh came back home to Ann Arbor with a Hollywood-like feel. This was not your typical college football hire. He was a guy that was the football captain and starting quarterback that led Michigan to a 21-1-3 record over his tenure. He was a first-round draft pick that carved out a solid NFL career.
Not to mention, he won as a college coach at San Diego State, Stanford, and he was a top 5 coach in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers.
The pressure on Harbaugh was insurmountable, but for a coach and player that once thrived in the face of pressure, it was right up his alley. The onus was on Harbaugh to win Big Ten Championships, Bowl Games, National Championships, and of course defeating their much-hated rival the Ohio State Buckeyes. Harbaugh’s arrival came with a lot of promise, but lately, it has been a forgettable ride.
Most if not all of Michigan’s shortcomings fall on their head coach. He says a lot of quirky things that bring unnecessary attention, he slept overnight at a recruit’s home, he has been in a rap video, he brought the Migos and Ric Flair to signing day, but he hasn’t done anything to command respect.
During his time in Ann Arbor, he has yet to develop a top quarterback– a position which he played and was dubbed as a quarterback whisperer by some. He has uncharacteristic losses to inferior teams such as Iowa, Florida State, and South Carolina. He has also lost the recruiting battle on several key prospects, and he mismanaged talented players such as Donovan Peoples-Jones, Rashan Gary, and Ambry Thomas
Through two games in the 2020 season, nothing has changed. Michigan fans are still clamoring to be in the same pantheon as Clemson, Ohio State, and Alabama, but to be honest, they are a long way away. They have defeated Michigan State twice in three years, but last Saturday’s loss to them may be the worst in school history. Since the Harbaugh experiment revealed itself in 2014, the Wolverines have not defeated Ohio State or won a Big Ten Championship. While they lack championship hardware, they have a collection of sweet Jordan’s and stamps on their passports.
The fans and alumni are tired and upset, the student-athletes must feel the same way as well. Yes, they are the ones on the field playing in the games, but when they are not put in a position to play to the best of their abilities it does not fall on them.
These are the same group of young men that were ranked high on 247 Sports and Rivals, but they are unprepared by the coaches that are being paid hefty salaries. The players are holding up their end of the bargain as they continuously go to morning lifts, classes, be pillars in the community, and of course, be great young men. You cannot ask for much more from a group of 18-23-year-old young men, but you can out of adults.
Jim Harbaugh is staring at criticism like no other, it is nobody else’s fault but his. At this juncture, Michigan is the laughingstock of the Big Ten and college football, and it has nothing to do with the players.
Thanks to Harbaugh and his antics, negligence, and unpreparedness, they lack respect that they have had for a lifetime.
The state of Michigan deserves better, Wolverine faithful deserve better, the student-athletes deserve better, University deserves better, and college football deserves better.