Author: Daniel Freres
A 5-2 start for the Wolverines might have pleased Michigan fans about two or three years ago. However, expectations abruptly shifted in Ann Arbor with the return of former Wolverine great Jim Harbaugh. Michigan had found its savior… or so it had thought. Paying Harbaugh a massive $7 million per year contract, Michigan fans finally felt like they had the man who could bring stability and long-term success to “the winningest program in FBS history.”
Though he has only been at the helm for two and a half seasons, Michigan has yet to bring themselves over “the hump.” Last season, the Wolverines finished at 10-3, third in the Big Ten East after a disappointing loss at the Hands of Florida State in Orange Bowl. Had the Wolverines avoided an upset loss on the road to Iowa, as well as another annual loss to the Buckeyes, the Wolverines might have been in the College Football Playoff conversation.
Let’s turn to 2017, the year many football analysts and fans alike believed Michigan could take that next step. Harbaugh had once again brought in a top ten recruiting class, so talent wasn’t lacking in Ann Arbor. Entering the preseason polls ranked 11th, Harbaugh and his Wolverines began the season with a tough test against the Gators. The Wolverines left Dallas victorious, defeating Florida 33-17. Two things were apparent immediately after the game. The Michigan Defense under Don Brown was ELITE, but junior quarterback Wilton Speight and the offense looked VERY suspect.
Flash forward to the end of October and the Wolverines are sitting at 5-2, fourth in the Big Ten East behind Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan State. A home loss at the hands of their “little brother” and an absolute beat down in Happy Valley are all the Wolverines have to show from a pretty miserable October. With the lack of quality wins to their name (Florida is now 3-3) the Wolverines must find a way to turn the tides. Ending with a road contest at Camp Randall and a home matchup with Ohio State make that task for Harbaugh extremely daunting.
The Wolverines are now unranked, and Coach Harbaugh (the QB whisperer) has been unable to improve the offense with Senior John O’Korn under center. Let’s be honest, we saw digression from Wilton Speight, too, before he went down with injury, so don’t give Harbaugh the benefit of the doubt here. Michigan’s $7 million man, with his top recruiting classes and plethora of high-level assistant coaches, has compiled a 25-8 record in his three years at Michigan. Wolverines fans…this is the SAME record that Brady Hoke had, yet he was fired.
I’m not saying Michigan should be actively searching for coaching replacements; however, I do believe that Coach Harbaugh has yet to live up to expectation in Ann Arbor. Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, so Harbaugh and the Wolverines have a long way to go before I can consider them “back.”