Harbaugh Era: Past and Present

By Kent FIott
Sep. 01, 2018

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Kent Fiott

College Football is finally back and I've been struggling for a week and a half trying to put together a blog encompassing all my thoughts on Michigan Football.

The whispers of displeasure after Michigan fell short of the college football playoffs in year two have turned into shouts of criticism heading into this season.

Criticism and displeasure is not something Jim Harbaugh has had to deal with too often throughout his football career as a player or a coach.

My opinion falls somewhere in the middle with Harbaugh. One day I want to join the criticism shouters and the next day I find myself with reasons to defend him.

Regardless of where you stand, it’s evident that this upcoming season is a big one, not only for the head coach, but for the once-proud program as a whole. And what better way to kick it off, then a prime-time night game on the road against the Irish.

Throughout the rest of this blog - I want to touch on the past and the present of the Harbaugh era...I've got so many thoughts I don't know where to begin...so i guess I'll start with the past.

PAST:

It couldn't have started with more of a bang. When Jim Harbaugh was announced as the next football coach at the University of Michigan you would have thought the team just won its first national title since 1997.

Khakis at all local retail stores were sold out before his initial acceptance speech at halftime of the Michigan/Illinois basketball game.

It was the beginning of a new era and everything was right again in the eyes of the Alumni and fans across the state.

Fast forward three seasons and the air has been deflated quicker than your tire after hitting a Michigan pothole on Mound Road (that one’s for the east siders).

College football is a "what have you done for me lately" business and I understand that.

That's why I can understand why the boo birds were out all off-season.

However, to give his tenure here a fair analysis, we have to look back at his first two seasons as well.

YEAR ONE

Taking over a new program is not an easy thing to do and we saw improvement from Rudock and the rest of the team on a weekly basis.

Aside from a blocked punt returned for a touchdown on the last play of the game against a very good Michigan State team, most anyone providing a fair analysis of his first season in Ann Arbor would provide positive feedback.

YEAR TWO

Many people would say he underachieved this season and my argument to that would be - he was a play away from a college football playoff birth in his second season.

Literally one game and one play away from taking the program to the very plateau, they hired him to reach in his 2ND SEASON.

I get it, he didn't win the game, and he lost to his rival again. I understand that logic - I truly do, but I don't necessarily agree with it. It wasn't as if Michigan was far superior in talent to Ohio State. It was an evenly matched game and sometimes you take bad beats.

Sometimes the cards don't fall your way. Unless your Michigan State, then you suck out on the river every coin flip for 10 years straight!

My biggest beef with year two was the loss to Iowa. I understand it’s a tough place to play on the road, but I thought they did a poor job coaching that night and it cost them a chance at a national title.

YEAR THREE

I have a huge problem with the coaching job by the Michigan staff last season.

As i explained above, i am a little more lenient than most other people when it comes to "beating your rivals."

Football is a game of breaks and usually games are determined by a bad bounce here or a good bounce there.

Obviously winning is the ultimate goal, but when analyzing games I look at how the team is prepared.

Everything from a coaching standpoint last year was disappointing to me. From the play action pass call on 4th and 13 against Penn State, to the clock management at the end of the half against South Carolina.

I thought they did a piss poor job on helping to develop Brandon Peters for the tough schedule at the end of the year. They had an opportunity to let him try to throw the ball around and make some plays against teams like Rutgers and Maryland.

Instead they decided to run the ball 46 times against both teams because they could. We know you can run the ball against those teams Jim, so let the kid throw the ball a bit so you’re prepared a little more when you can’t run the ball against Wisconsin and Ohio State.

All and all I think Harbaugh has just been okay since coming to Ann Arbor. Unfortunately, okay isn't going to be enough to a fan base that basically prays at your alter.

Let's scrap last season and get back to the coaching that took place in year one and most of year two.

PRESENT

I can hardly contain my excitement as I write this blog in anticipation for tonight's game in South Bend. This is what college football is all about!

Meeting up with your buddies at the house or the bar and watching two of the most storied programs in history battle it out under the lights before Labor Day!

College football needs more of these games to open up the year - for the fans at least :)

The head coaches for these two teams might be singing a different tune behind closed doors as both may have wanted a bit of a cupcake to open up the season.

Well, too bad Jim, here is your opportunity for the team and yourself to shine under the spotlight.

I have said this for years and I will continue to say it - If you do not have the line of Alabama or LSU, you have to have a QB that can make a play when protection breaks down.

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

The Wolverines finally have that in Shea Patterson!

Now it is on the coaches to put him in the right formations and build a play book around him to allow him to succeed.

That is my biggest fear going into tonight. Please do not try to make Shea Patterson into a pocket passing / Pro Style Quarterback.

I'm sure he can be okay in that style, but it won’t allow him to be great. I want to see if Jim and the coaching staff have the balls to deviate from this pro style garbage every Michigan fan has been clamoring for since Rich Rodriguez left.

Put the athletes you have in the best position to succeed. This team is built to let Shea Patterson make plays running and throwing.

Rich Rodriguez's problem at Michigan wasn't his offense. They piled up all kind of yards in a spread type offense.

His problem was his arrogance and his inability to go out and find someone who can coach defense and play a formation other than a 3-3-5 in the Big Ten.


THE WOLVERINES HAVE THAT DEFENSE NOW!

Open up the DAMN offense and put some points on the board!

PREDICTION FOR TONIGHT'S GAME:

MICHIGAN 21, NOTRE DAME 17

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