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Top Level Sports

It’s time for the Jim Harbaugh era to be over at Michigan

The Michigan Wolverines lost yet another game they were favored in, this time to an Indiana Hoosiers team that they haven’t lost to since 1987. The Hoosiers look better than they have in a long time, but that still doesn’t excuse the Wolverines losing to them, especially in the fashion that they did which was a final of 38–21.

Michigan’s defense has been deteriorating over the last few years. They have been slowly getting worse each year under Harbaugh. For the first few years, the Michigan defense looked completely solid, until they played any type of ranked team, of course. Once they faced someone like Michigan State, Penn State, or Ohio State, their dominance that they showed against teams like Rutgers or Illinois, usually diminished quite quickly.

Over the last year or so, that defense has been completely beatable, no matter who they’re playing, particularly the run defense. Many people have thought that defensive coordinator Don Brown has lost his step and it’s time for Harbaugh to make a change with him. Michigan has given up over 100 yards per game on the ground in the three games played this season. The pass defense isn’t much better. Two of the three games they have given up over 300 yards through the air.

Harbaugh defended his coaching staff after Saturday’s loss, specifically Don Brown, saying, “I love all of our coaches, every coach on this staff. They work extremely hard, their schemes are very good and they’re coaching good. Just keep forging ahead, stay after it to make that next step. Critical step.”

Granted, that is a very typical and stereotypical answer by a head coach of a football team. They are very much like politicians in the fact that they say a bunch of words but don’t exactly have any substance in those words.

Don Brown can easily be the scapegoat at the end of the season and a lot of Michigan fans may be just fine with that, but there needs to be a larger change.

Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Michigan and Jim Harbaugh need to come to an agreement for him to be relieved of his duties. It is not working there. And with it being his sixth season with the team, there has been more than enough time to get this right. There were flashes, but nothing that ever lasted more than a few weeks.

After Saturday’s loss to Indiana, Harbaugh moves to 2–8 against AP-ranked teams. His team’s can bully and beat up the smaller schools that make them look like an elite team, but the second they face a team with any legitimacy to them, they collapse in front of everyone’s eyes.

Jim Harbaugh is set to make $8 million this year. That is the fourth highest paid coach in all of college football according to USA Today. The three coaches ahead of Harbaugh? Dabo Swinney, Ed Orgeron, and Nick Saban. All of whom which have won National Championships. Harbaugh hasn’t even won his own conference. In fact, he has not even been to a Big 10 Championship game. He is currently 0–5 against their biggest rival, Ohio State. And the way things are looking, it will more than likely be 0–6 when this season is all said and done. The only way Harbaugh is beating Ohio State this year is if the entire team gets COVID and is forced to forfeit.

It’s not like Jim Harbaugh is a bad coach. He is a good coach, just not great. The problem is that he’s getting paid “great coach” money. You can only justify it for so long. You can only say “next year will be our year” so many times. Sometimes it’s best to just count your losses and move on.

So what would be next for Michigan if they do in fact see the writing on the wall? Who knows. The current regime is not working. Every year, they are hyped up by the local and national media that they are in the same league as the Alabama’s and Ohio State’s of the world. But they just aren’t. Plain and simple. They aren’t and they never were. Could they be one day? Sure. They could find a coach that suits them and everything could suddenly come together for them.

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Harbaugh hasn’t been recruiting like an elite coach, either. Every year, less and less elite high schoolers are choosing Michigan as their home. They are seeing what is ultimately true: Harbaugh is not in the elite class of coaches and Michigan is not an elite football school.

The other problem is Harbaugh has never had a great quarterback in his tenure at Michigan. Wilton Speight was the best Harbaugh has had, which was only in his first year as head coach in Ann Arbor. Even Speight wasn’t that great but it was the year they came closest to beating Ohio State. Ever since, it hasn’t ever really been close.

Harbaugh was once known as a “quarterback whisperer” and he has yet to recruit a quarterback that can take Michigan to that next level. Whether it’s through recruitment or through transfers, Harbaugh still can’t find that guy that can take over a game.

All of this leads to the obvious answer. Harbaugh needs to go. Michigan fans are getting frustrated, and they are finding fewer reasons to be able to defend him. Harbaugh will have plenty of suiters for a future back in the NFL, where he might be better off.

As for the rest of the season? Buckle up Michigan fans, it probably will get even uglier than it is already.

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