The nutty Michigan coverage isn't so much about Harbaugh as it is a signal to the Big Ten that Fox wants to party.
Similarities between Michigan and Penn State
After reading the mgo.licio.us article about Penn State and their supposed "Spread HD", there was an inset link to this article: http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/509133.html?nav=5017
If you replaced "Joe Paterno" with "Lloyd Carr" and each corresponding PSU person with its Michigan equivalent, it would still sound just about right. (even the part about not throwing passes over the middle).
My opinion of why Michigan has always been successful against PSU was that it was looking at a mirror-image of itself. While Michigan typically struggled against teams that didn't employ their Pro-Style offense, Penn State's straightforward "conservative" playcalling played right into Michigan's hands. Of course, while we as Michigan fans could grumble about it from our own perspectives, it's always interesting to hear the same words being said about another team with similar deficiencies (hence, the Altoona Mirror Article linked above). Here's an excerpt of how it could have read if it were written about Lloyd Carr-era Michigan Football:
ANN ARBOR - Michigan can have all the offensive weapons in the world, but it won't matter if Lloyd Carr insists on being conservative.
Carr needs to do several things for the intriguing new Run, Run, Pass, Punt offense to be most effective:
* He needs to let his playmakers make plays.
* He needs to give Mike DeBord freedom to call plays that actually surprise defenses.
* He needs to allow his offense to take some chances on the road rather than constantly trying to win defensive battles.
If Carr refuses to take full advantage of his offensive weapons, Michigan will have another mediocre season. (And yes, 9-4 should be considered mediocre at UM.)
I wonder if Penn State regrets joining the Big Ten. It's not like any of their other sports have been anything to write home about, and even before Miami, BC and VaTech left the Big East, they easily could have been the power brokers of that conference had they decided in the early 90s to join the Big East (if offered entry) instead of playing second fiddle to Michigan/Ohio State.
I remember there being a lot of talk that once Penn State joined the B10 that the "Big 2, Little 8" conference pecking order would change, but save for '94 and '05, there hasn't been much special coming out of State College.