The Media’s Love Affair with Jim Harbaugh
In an era of hot takes and microwave analysis, the term “overrated” has been thrown around ad nauseam in mainstream sports media. But what does it really mean to be “overrated”?
In general, being overrated in sports usually means that an individual or a team is ranked too high in the polls based on their actual performance. It can also mean that said player, coach or team is given too much clout that they simply haven’t earned. This could ultimately be a bi-product of a political or financial agenda of ESPN, etc.
However, quite often, the primary issue is that most sports media outlets are led by bloviating clowns. Then they are consumed by internet gangsters and/or hillbillies who are blinded by their own fandom. So there’s that.
When looking at the college football landscape, the disease of overration (coined by yours truly) runs rampant every fall with Week Two National Champions and September Heisman Trophy Winners. Every season, we are made to believe that certain players, coaches, and teams are going to be the next coming. And we wait. More hot takes fizzle away. Shocking.
Over the past several seasons, one main coach and program has been made out to be all the rage but have yet to prove their worth. For your reading pleasure, we are here to expose. Because one thing is certain when it comes to the truly overrated: when they do end up failing, you love to see it.
Without further ado, the most overrated coach and program in college football: Jim Harbaugh & The Michigan Wolverines.
“Those who stay will be champions.” The most famous phrase in Michigan football. No one is going to argue that Bo Schembechler is a legendary football coach. The irony in this quote, however, is that Coach Harbaugh’s hero never won a national championship at Michigan.
The mainstream media has brainwashed us with the idea that Jim Harbaugh, likewise, was going to bring a national championship to the Wolverines. It hasn’t happened and is not going to happen.
In fact, Coach Harbaugh hasn’t won any sort of college football championship at the FBS Level. In 2005, he did win the Pioneer League Championship at San Diego. Not that exciting of a feat considering San Diego has won it TEN TIMES since he left.
At Stanford, he had one great year where he went 12-1 and won a BCS Bowl. Mind you, Andrew Luck was his quarterback which certainly helps. His combined record at Stanford before that season was 17-20 with one bowl appearance, a loss in the prestigious Sun Bowl.
Coach Harbaugh was brought in to be the Savior of Michigan Football. Following Brady Hoke, who beat Ohio State in his first try, was a two-point conversion away from upsetting them a second time, and also won the Sugar Bowl in his tenure. The media sold us that Coach Harbaugh was going to bring CHANGE! Michigan Football is back!
The inconvenient truth is through their first 40 games at Michigan: Brady Hoke was 27-13 with a rivalry win and a Sugar Bowl win. Jim Harbaugh was 28-12, has been utterly embarrassed by Ohio State 0-5 and is 1-4 in bowl games. So in the last two games of the season each year, the games that matter the most, Harbaugh is 1-9. You hate to see it.
A sign of a great coach is having the ability to defeat teams who have equal and more talent than you. The Khaki King has yet to win a game against a top 7 team in the country and has struggled mightily against top class competition overall. In Harbaugh’s tenure, they’ve had the second most players drafted into the NFL from the Big Ten. They have talent! But when Michigan plays someone of the same or better caliber, they lose. Almost every time.
In 2018 Harbaugh had his “ Best Michigan Team.” They came into Columbus to compete with the Buckeyes for the Big Ten East Title. OSU was an underachieving team with off-field distractions. Kyle Rowland of the Toledo Blade exclaimed on the radio that the game was going to be a changing of the guard in the rivalry and, thus, the Big Ten landscape. And what happened? Coach Harbaugh’s boys gave up a 60 piece McNugget. All this after running back Karan Higdon guaranteed a victory over Urban Meyer in his final game at the Horseshoe. Cringe.
The following year Michigan played Ohio State at The Big House. The “Revenge Tour” cancelled in Columbus last year, 2019 provided an opportunity to right the proverbial ship. Nope. The Buckeyes won 56-27. Giving up 62 and 56 points in back to back rivalry games? That’s a culture issue.
Bad Joke Alert: Harbaugh went car shopping the other day. He asked the sales associate, “does this Prius come with seat warmers?”
“Yes coach, but I don’t think that’s necessary…”
However, it doesn’t even appear that Jim is on the hot seat. The media still considers him great and Michigan seems content. Heck, they crushed Rutgers and Maryland again last year!
Harbaugh has been doing his best to surround himself with “elite” coaches and coordinators. First, he hired the great Ed Warinner, former Buckeye OC, who according to Zach Smith, single-handedly destroyed Ohio State’s 2015 season with his incompetence. Coach Warinner champions Michigan’s perpetually under-achieving offensive line. Slam dunk hire!
Next, we have Don Brown. While no one is going to argue the fact Don Brown is a tremendous defensive football coach. He had some incredible defenses at Boston College and started of strong at Michigan. Using primarily Brady Hoke recruits, he put together an outstanding game-plan that truly challenged the Buckeyes in 2016. A game in which the defense essentially quit in the 4th quarter and overtime mind you. They almost got a big fourth down stop. The replays have confirmed though, the spot was good.
However, Don Brown has talked a lot of shit regularly and it as backfired recently. His stubbornness led to the most embarrassing thumping in the modern history of the rivalry. Ohio State ran crossing routes like they were going through Thursday execution practice. Despite giving up 62 points in the aforementioned 2018 game, Brown let the Buckeyes know, “they better be careful.” He spoke those words about a week before the 2019 contest. And then his defense gave up 56. At home.
After this most recent ass-kicking, highly-touted OC Josh Gattis proclaimed that Michigan “Beat Themselves.” Really, dude? Say the score out loud: FIFTY SIX TO TWENTY SEVEN. Pass the sticks.
Yesterday, we had Josh Gattis flexing on Twitter about playing a tough non-conference schedule. Ok? He was also touting Harbaugh’s 8th best overall record in the nation. Whatever fits your narrative, coach!
There are TWO coaches in college football who make more money than Harbaugh. Dabo Swinney and Nick Saban. They have combined to win four of the last five National Championships. Each coach plays in the college football playoff almost every year. Harbaugh has yet to make the Big Ten Championship Game.
For the media, or anyone, to consider him in the same class is sheer lunacy. In the famous words Jon Turturro in O’ Brother Where Art Thou – that don’t make no sense! Congratulations to Coach Harbaugh on making the salary though. For another classic film reference: it’s similar to the movie Office Space, when Peter just stopped producing work at Innotech, yet he still got the promotion!
Finally, the Urban Meyer vs. Jim Harbaugh “debate”. This was never a serious debate, was it? Come on now, guys. Alright. If you’re twisting my arm…
Urban was 187-32 in his career. Harbaugh is 76-39. Urban won 3 National Titles. Harbaugh has never been close to playing in that game. Urban lost 9 total games in 7 years at Ohio State. Jim H has lost twice that many games at Michigan in right around half the amount of contests. And as for head to head? Do we even have to mention it?