Your opinion of Harbaugh: what went right, what went wrong, and what's next?

Your opinion of Harbaugh: what went right, what went wrong, and what's next?

Submitted by Caesar on June 4th, 2018 at 6:50 AM

I think the program is where most thought it would be, at least in terms of overall records: 10-3, 10-3, and 8-5 were pretty much expected outcomes. Below, I've included things that I think are reasonably within his control

I'll start things off.

The Good

  • Don Brown, Ed Warinner, Ben Herbert, and Chris Partridge--generally awesome hires
  • Solid recruiting--tailing off a bit right now, but that probably gets fixed with a good season
  • Generating buzz--added some pizzazz and visibility to the program 
  • 2015-2016 playcalling

The Bad

  • Tim Drevno & OL--Not sure how Harbaugh could've seen that coming with Drevno's history of results, but in the end, he put program loyalty over personal loyalty and made a change
  • 2017 offense playcalling--I know that the OL was rough, but Harbaugh successfully schemed ways around those kinds of weaknesses in previous years; this is probably an artifact of QB play

What's Next

  • 2018 is going to be a rough year, especially in dealing with the fanbase, given the schedule. Harbaugh will probably survive but not thrive. However, plenty of excellent video games and chess will take place during the year, so there's that. 
  • But 2019 is looking very Natty-like, especially with the OL/QB/fully weaponized WRs. ND, Michigan State, Ohio State at home. South Africa. Non-chaos Indiana before The Game. Tasty.

 Edit: Army is better than I remembered.

Marty Smith Was on The First team this morning...

Marty Smith Was on The First team this morning...

Submitted by TdK71 on May 2nd, 2018 at 10:07 AM

And he gave a very down to earth and earnest assesment of the Team's trip to France. The Normandy portion was the center of his report, and he talked about all the good it would bring these young men in the future after football and in life.

If You have a SiriusXM subscription you can download the podcast and listen to it for yourself.

Personally I though it was very well done and Paints the Coach ahd team in a positive light. 

He also says the time to win is now, but isn't that always the case?

3 New Videos of Jim McElwain

3 New Videos of Jim McElwain

Submitted by SkyPanther on April 16th, 2018 at 10:05 PM

Harbaugh on Speight: "I don't rule it out completely"

Harbaugh on Speight: "I don't rule it out completely"

Submitted by markusr2007 on March 27th, 2018 at 6:34 PM

From the Landof10.com:

https://www.landof10.com/michigan/wilton-speight-michigan-football-retu…

“Wilton is going to be a graduate transfer. Wilton graduates in May, and he’s weighing some of his options. I think he’s first taking a look and seeing what else is out there, who’s in need of a starting quarterback. But he hasn’t closed the door on coming back.”

Spring Preview: Harbaugh self reflects on 2017 coaching

Spring Preview: Harbaugh self reflects on 2017 coaching

Submitted by Fezzik on March 15th, 2018 at 5:34 AM
https://247sports.com/college/michigan/Article/Spring-Preview-Self-Scou… Similar to the "Harbaugh on tackles in spring preview" thread here is some great content about Jim reflecting on what the coaching staff can improve on from last season. It's a great and short read (or listen). Some big take-aways I took from it are, having "less volume" offensively and finding the identity of the 2018 offense. Jim McElwain will carry the bulk of WR coaching rather than just a grad assistant (Joe Hastings) like we had last season. Harbaugh also discusses a major mistake he made during pre-season QB training and shares how he plans to improve upon it. A lot of specific concerns many of us had about our offense last year already have changes made to address them. We aren't 'there' yet but I believe 2018 will be a major improvement offensively. Read, discuss, and enjoy. Go blue!

What's Past Is Prologue: The QB Guru

What's Past Is Prologue: The QB Guru

Submitted by Mo Better Blues on January 11th, 2018 at 12:19 AM

Long time lurker, first time poster, so, please, not in the face. I really do apologize in advance if this is lame. But like many, I found this season deflating, despite my acceptance of the preseason conventional wisdom, (debated here of late; for my part, count me in the camp that expected a floor of 8 wins and a ceiling of maybe 10), that this year would not be "The Year".

Count me also in the camp that buys the narrative that lack of signature wins over quality opponents/rivals has made an 8-5 season feel emotionally closer to a 5-8 season. 

So, despite landing on the roughly expected 8-win number, in the days following the Outback Bowl, I doubted something I didn't think possible: the Inevitable Glorious Future we were sure to have under Jim Harbaugh. While the larger idea that he was the best possible coach for this program remained intact, my belief in what could actually be *achieved* was shaken.

Some of the situational coaching and uninspired playcalling in the bowl played a role certainly, but (hot take time!), it was our profound QB struggles in Year Three that most undermined. As a math expression, (if that's even the proper term), the perfect storm of my negativity might look something like this: 

Losses To Rivals : Disappointment In Michigan Football Generally : : Serious QB Struggles : Doubts About Harbaugh Specifically

(And forgive me if that's wrong, MGoActualMathPeople.)

And then I looked inward a bit and remembered what life under RichRod and Hoke was really like, and how this program has been fundamentally transformed already in terms of not being a huge joke (or at least a much less funny one), and how spoiled and entitled I've sort of been as a fan recently, (even if traumatically abused historically), and just how goddamn loud and annoying our rivals' taunts can be. I also remembered a video I watched a few years ago that made me feel giddy about the then-prospect of a Harbaugh Era and the critical attention that would be paid to quarterback development should it materialize.  

TL;DR? Watch this (surprisingly underviewed) video and feel better--all over again--about the future of this program; how QB depth chart decisions have been/will be made, how recruiting is approached and what kind of guys he's going after, what will be expected of this team and the QB position in specific, and just the total football joy of football that beats in Coach Harbaugh's football heart. Football!

SPOILERS: Jim Harbaugh breaks shit and laughs! Jim Harbaugh puts knuckles in assholes (and I don't just mean Jim Kelly!) Jim Harbaugh with feathered '90s hair and khakis but NO horn-rimmed-bad-luck-Woody-Hayes-cursed-hipster-f*ck glasses! Living in the past but a more recent past! Football!

And after all this, if this f*cking link doesn't work, I will slink away in abject shame and lurk forevermore: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7-9kQJ1_sI

Expectations and Emotionally Satisfying Wins

Expectations and Emotionally Satisfying Wins

Submitted by Kevin Holtsberry on January 3rd, 2018 at 1:07 PM

As we continue to work through another ugly ending of the season for Michigan football, I thought I would explore an area I think contributes to the anger, disappointment and even ennui for fans.  Trying to find reasonable expectations and the impact of emotional wins.

The expectations game has been debated to death on the site, so I am not going to rehash that in detail.  Instead, I wanted to explore how emotionally satisfying wins help temper expectations and how Michigan's lack of such wins is in a significant way driving so much of the unhappiness.

My argument is basically that winning rivalry games and other high-profile games builds a reserve of goodwill that can be drawn on in tough times thus balancing out some of the fan dissatisfaction as a program has its natural ups and downs.

For example, Ohio State has had some inexplicable losses (Iowa 2017, Michigan State 2015) and some bad ones (Clemson 2016), but they have a National Championship, have dominated Michigan, and have 8 total losses in Urban Meyer's tenure. Michigan State had a disastrous year in 2016, but beat Michigan and Penn State and won their bowl game handily.  This overshadows losses to ND, Northwestern and an embarrassing loss to Ohio State.  Penn State had heartbreaking losses to Ohio State and Michigan State but won 11 games and ended with a win.

We do need to take a few minutes to discuss the expectations that should set the context for our discussion. If you thought Harbaugh was going to step in and bring Michigan to the level of Urban Meyer or Nick Saban in three years, I can't help you.  A cursory glance at the record of the schools for the last ten years would disabuse you of this notion.  Ohio State has been playing in title games and winning conference championships.  In contrast, even before RichRod and Hoke, Michigan lost 3-5 games with regularity.

Since 2000 Ohio State has averaged 2.27 losses a year while Michigan has averaged 4.22. So that should temper expectations.  Ohio State has consistently been better than Michigan for a couple of decades and the last five have been dominant. Urban Meyer has never lost more than 2 games at OSU.

And the program that Harbaugh inherited was not exactly trending upward.  RichRod had three consecutive losing seasons.  Hoke started great (11-2), had a season remarkably like this year (8-5 with a bowl loss to SC), before two losing seasons.  The two coaches prior to Harbaugh were a combined 41-35. 

And going back to Lloyd Carr things were not at Meyer or Saban levels.  Carr’s tenure at Michigan averages out to roughly 9-3. Obviously, the 1997 season stands out as the high point and the ending of the 2006 season as the start of the slide to mediocrity and below.  Heck, Bo’s record is basically 9-2 with a losing record (5-12) in bowl games and no national titles.

This background indicates that in his first three years Harbaugh has brought Michigan back to what it was in the 90s and early 2000s.  I would argue what he hasn’t achieved is some emotionally satisfying wins that would make this accomplishment FEEL better to Michigan fans.  This recap of recent history may seem redundant for fans but bear with me.

2015

Harbaugh’s first season started out with a tough but in many ways understandable loss to Utah but then won five games by a combined score of 160-14.  The next game, however, was the heartbreaking and maddening loss to Michigan State.  The Wolverines won the next four games including a goal line stand to win against Minnesota, an OT win against Indiana, and a sold 28-16 win against Penn State in Happy Valley.  After a blowout loss to Ohio State in the Big House, Michigan thumped Florida 41-7 in the Gator Bowl.

Despite the pattern of painful losses to rivals, Harbaugh first season brought some emotional satisfaction. Ten wins and a blowout bowl win felt like a great start.  Plus, the wins against Minnesota and Indiana provided some excitement and confidence that Michigan could win conference games on the road.

2016

Michigan reeled off 9 straight wins in 2016 and other than the comeback against Colorado and a three missed field goals game against Wisconsin, none of them were particularly close.  You know the story from there.  Painful loss on the road to Iowa, snow game escape against Indiana, and then heartbreaking losses to Ohio State and Florida State.

This is where the emotional damage was done.  A few plays, and one atrocious call, away from a playoff appearance and a great season; potentially one for the ages.  So much promise and potential and yet fans came away with nothing but heartbreak.

The ending was particularly rough not just because it robbed Michigan of a great season, but it erased satisfying wins against not only Colorado and Wisconsin, but also Michigan State and Penn State.  Win one of those three losses and the season feels very different.  To use a cliché, fans were deprived of the type of closure or ending that can make a season feel satisfying even if disappointing.  The end colors the whole season.

2017

This year was the year of youth, particularly on defense.  But an opening win against what was thought to be a solid Florida team seem to portend good things.  The offense struggled but the defense was playing at last year levels despite losing a ton of talent and that was exciting.  A comeback win against Purdue on the road with John O’Korn at QB had fans thinking that the injury to Wilton Speight would not doom the season.

A sloppy loss in a second half monsoon to Michigan State at home drove home the indication that QB and OL play would remain an issue for Michigan; a turnover fest would spell doom.  The feeling of being snake bitten against Michigan State also continued.  The team managed to sneak past Indiana but then were blown out in the second half by a Penn State team who seemed to have it all figured out. 

Michigan went on to thump Rutgers, Minnesota, and Maryland with a suddenly quite good running game.  And it seemed as if Brandon Peters might be the QB that Michigan so desperately needed.  But a concussion against Wisconsin ended that possibility and the end of season losses followed.  This included a torturous loss to Ohio State at home that included a 14-0 lead at one point.  But the lack of a competent QB, O’Korn had lost whatever competence he once possessed, doomed the Wolverines to yet another loss in The Game.

So even before the bowl game, Michigan fans were struggling to make sense of the team and season. On the one hand, the defense seemed to be beating expectations given their youth and the running game come alive.  The offensive play calling against Ohio State was brilliant even if the QB couldn’t hit an open receiver with the game on the line.  On the other hand, the OL couldn’t protect the QB and seemed to find any stunt an unsolvable mystery.  The WRs were young and failing to help the QB when given the chance.

What the bowl game represented was a chance to reset the expectations and reach a plateau on which to build.  South Carolina was a bad team, worse than their 8-4 record.  This was a chance to prove that Michigan could beat a team with a winning record.  The Big Ten was undefeated in bowl games and had a chance to really stick it to the arrogant SEC.  Michigan was favored to win and most felt comfortable then would do so handily.

When you combine the incredible frustration built up in 2016 from being a few plays, and an atrocious call, from greatness with the continuing losses to our rivals in painful fashion (and the media drumbeat on this point), this was a pool of gasoline waiting for a match.

The last quarter and a half against South Carolina provided not a spark but a flamethrower. 

In the first half Michigan had the ball on the South Carolina 17, 8, and 27 and came away with filed goals each time.  SC had a muffed punt and a fumble but were only down 9-3.  Michigan looked poised to put the game away in the second half, however.  After a 7 play 72-yard TD drive and a SC interception Michigan was driving for a score to put the game out of reach.  Karan Higdon fumbled at the 4, seemed to recover it, only to have the defensive lineman rip it away.  The defense held but a chance to deliver the knockout punch slipped by.  Up 23-3 midway through the 3rd quarter would have been a great place to be.

The mistakes from there just multiplied.  SC drove for a TD aided by a stupid personal foul penalty.  Then facing 3rd and 1 at their own 23, Michigan ran the by now infamous play where TE Sean McKeon was lined up as a FB and promptly fumbled the handoff. The very next play was a SC TD and the collapse was on.

  • SC overcame a 3rd and 18 and then hit on a 53-yard bomb for their third straight possession with a TD. 
  • Trailing for the first time Michigan drove to the five only to have Brandon Peters throw an interception in the endzone. 
  • Donovan Peoples-Jones muffs a punt. 
  • The defense holds SC to a FG despite having the ball on the 14. Peters throws four straight incompletions and Michigan turns the ball over on downs. 
  • Again, defense holds, and SC misses a FG.  2nd and 2 at the 39 and Peters inexplicably slides instead of running for the first down.  Two plays later, interception to end the game.

The litany is familiar: five(!) turnovers, 23 unanswered points, results in a blown 19-3 lead midway through the third quarter. An embarrassing loss. The only Big Ten team to lose a bowl game (to an SEC team).

I recap all of this, not because you are not aware of what happened but to try to capture the emotional rollercoaster and how it likely destroyed any semblance of balance and rationality many Michigan fans had.

In 2016 Michigan fans were deprived of the opportunity to prove they could be great.  Instead, a season on the precipice of greatness was cruelly snatched away by the thinnest of margins and by a fate that seems intent on punishing Michigan repeatedly.

Having digested this pain, well mostly, Michigan fans simply wanted to believe that a very young team was still competent enough to win games they were supposed to win.  After coming tantalizing close against quality opponents, they wanted to beat a winning team, hold up their part of the Big Ten reputation and slap down the SEC.

Instead, they got an epic collapse.  Players they had hoped were coming into their own in the 13th game of the season made critical mistakes.  Players they thought were the future, looked unable to handle the spotlight.  And the coaches seemed unable to stop the bleeding or find a way to win.

You can say that Michigan’s history of failing to hold a lead in important games is not relevant to whether Harbaugh knows how to coach or the talent level on the 2018 team.  You can say this year was roughly what was expected.  But the history is there emotionally, and it FEELS important.  Monday made it feel like that history was destiny, that Michigan would forever be the underachieving team. Without a great season to fall back on the future feels like a continuation of heartbreaking losses and mediocrity.

So where do we go from here?  I think you must acknowledge this history and understand that it warps expectations and exaggerates the emotions.  Living in Columbus, I know what winning once in 15 years against OSU feels like.  You can’t have a hyped, media dominating, coach who gets paid ungodly sums, and a coaching staff who are also paid among the highest in the country, and not have expectations grow. And you can’t just wave away the emotions and baggage.

But you also need to realize that Harbaugh is digging out of a hole in terms of recruiting and winning.  And he is doing this at a time when Ohio State is one of the best programs in the country, when Penn State is recruiting at a high level and Michigan State has a coach whose life goal is to beat Michigan even if that is all he accomplishes.  This is an uphill climb. 

It is also important to note, that Michigan isn’t trying to get BACK to the level of Meyer or Saban or Dabo.  It was never at that level.  Those programs have five years of top five recruiting classes under their belt.  They have climbed to the highest level and stayed there. Michigan is trying to build a foundation from which they can reach that level.

That said, 2018 has the feel of a turning point.  Michigan will need to find a way to give fans some significant wins so that they can feel like all the money and hype means something. Another season of losses to rivals and missing the conference championship game will drive the angry voices to newfound heights. 

The good, and bad, news is that Michigan will have plenty of opportunities to get big wins.  As everyone is aware, the schedule is not easy.  Games against Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State on the road and visits from Wisconsin and Penn State.  10 wins, including wins against ND, MSU and/or OSU, would be quite an accomplishment.  It would also give fans enough satisfaction to look to 2019 with excitement. A 4 or 5 loss season would seem to put even Harbaugh on the hot seat.

4 Star OT Jarrett Patterson (Mission Viejo, CA) - Michigan Visit Recap

4 Star OT Jarrett Patterson (Mission Viejo, CA) - Michigan Visit Recap

Submitted by markusr2007 on December 11th, 2017 at 12:37 PM

Full recap of Jarrett Patterson visit over the weekend here:

https://247sports.com/Article/4-star-OL-Jarrett-Patterson-Recaps-Michig…

"The Michigan official couldn’t have gone better," said Patterson. "I loved the change of life in the midwest and the people in Ann Arbor."

Patterson visited Michigan just days after he decommitted from Arizona State and his time with the coaches and players left a good impression.

"What stood out most was the football players even spend time with regular students," said Patterson. "Everyone is interconnected and the players are all laid back guys. My host was Ben Bredeson. He is a starting guard and was super welcoming and showed me all around Ann Arbor. I couldn’t have asked for a better host and guy to be with. I also spent time with Devin Bush and Quinn Nordin."

There were also meetings with the Michigan coaches.

"I met all the coaches on the staff," said Patterson. "I spent the most time with Coach (Joe) Hastings, Coach (Tim) Drevno, and Coach (Jim) Harbaugh. Coach Harbaugh knows when to joke around but also knows when it is work time. He has so many stories to tell and is crazy energetic."

Jarrett visits UCLA next weekend.

Drevno is doing in-home visit in CA this Thursday.

Looks like a January decision.

Harbaugh spotted in Oxford, MS recruiting S Deontay Anderson

Harbaugh spotted in Oxford, MS recruiting S Deontay Anderson

Submitted by Communist Football on December 5th, 2017 at 1:26 PM

Courtesy of @raseanreeves on Twitter (h/t Isaiah Hole):

Deontay Anderson having breakfast with the best Coach in the game! Should be a another great week for us!#goblue pic.twitter.com/2acG5rYvdQ

— Michigan Man Ray (@raseanreeves) December 5, 2017

UPDATE 1: Harbaugh also met with Patterson today (Tues Dec 5), according to Tom VanHaaren:

I was told Harbaugh is meeting with Shea Patterson right now. Of note with Shea, his parents were Michigan fans, his grandpa played for the Detroit Pistons and Shea was at one point committed to Arizona in HS, recruited by Matt Dudek, who is now at Michigan.

— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) December 5, 2017

UPDATE 2: Michigan pursuing OL Greg Little as well, though unclear whether or not the interest is reciprocated on his end (Sam Webb et al have more details).

ASU commit OT Jarrett Patterson offered by UM, Visiting 9 Dec.

ASU commit OT Jarrett Patterson offered by UM, Visiting 9 Dec.

Submitted by markusr2007 on December 4th, 2017 at 11:28 PM

Looks like Jarrett Patterson, 4-star OT, 6'5", 285 lbs is seriously considering Michigan.

He played LT @ Mission Viejo H.S.

So I guess that means a  "Patterson Squared Weekend" in Ann Arbor 9 December.

Herm Edwards announced as ASU coach today 4 December. I think it's a good decision for Jarrett to consider other options. 

Senior Highlight Film of OFFENSIVE TACKLE Jarrett Patterson:

https://247sports.com/Article/4-star-OL-Jarrett-Patterson-Busy-Weekend-…

ASU still in it, UCLA and Michigan.

January decision?