This Week's Obsession: If Harbaugh Had A Comment Count

Seth October 14th, 2015 at 12:54 PM

UPDATED: Now with 100% more Yang.


(via Toledo Blade)

The Question:

Inspired by A.J. Williams, which former under- or badly utilized player would you have loved to see play for Harbaugh?


The Responses:

Brian: For the record, this was my rundown on MGoRadio:

In this world he's probably still #19.

1. Denard/Devin

Jim Harbaugh coming in in 2011 and being handed Denard Robinson would have been incredibly fascinating, and may have propelled Denard to unmatchable heights as a runner. Gardner would have been lethal.

2. Mike Hart

Do I hear 3000 yard season?

3. Gabe Watson

Watson gets a bad rap. He was first team All Big Ten twice and a mid-round pick in the NFL draft. But if there was one guy who could have been a demon if he was in a bit more shape and a bit more motivated, it was him.

4. BJ Askew

A hybrid FB/RB who could have been a really cool secret weapon.

5. AJ Williams

The gimmicky top five was in honor of Williams so I had to put him on there. The turnaround this year has been great.

For TWO I'll add a couple more names: remember that game Alain Kashama had in the Citrus Bowl against Florida? Yeah, that's another guy for the pile of defensive players who might have been yelled into awesomeness under Harbaugh. Also: Devin Funchess. Does he become a great blocker? Does he become at least a great blocker for a WR? What does it look like to have Devin Funchess running routes downfield against one on one coverage with full motivation? I bet it looks pretty amazing.

[After the jump: so many wonderful toys]


Ace: My somewhat oddball list for the radio show:

1. Mike Hart

2. Tate Forcier

3. Will Campbell

4. Aaron Shea

5. Marques Slocum

Brian and I caught some flak for leaving this guy off our respective lists on Monday: Drew Henson. The people are absolutely right in this case. Henson would've been the most talented quarterback Jim Harbaugh had to work with until Andrew Luck and his skill set would've been ideal in a Harbaugh offense; he had the arm strength, accuracy, and mobility Harbaugh covets in his quarterbacks. The difference between Henson working within the confines of Lloydball and playing for Harbaugh—it's a sick kind of fun to consider.

Harbaugh also would've been so deeply offended by the idea of Henson leaving early to pursue a career in baseball—a fine sport, sure, but football is life—that I fully believe he would've been able to convince Henson to resist George Steinbrenner's overtures until he'd delivered a Heisman Trophy to Ann Arbor. I want to live in the alternate universe that gives us Senior Henson coached by Jim Harbaugh; it probably ends with Henson as the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft.


David:​ This is a question that has seemingly endless possibilities. Brian's Devin/Denard pick, on the radio, is obviously tough to beat. My #1 that I wrote down on Monday night -and was rather confident about- was also taken by Brian (which is maybe why I work for him?) was BJ Askew. So, I'll have to go with #2 on my list: Kevin Koger.

Kevin Koger came to Michigan as a fringe Top 100 player and a Top 5 TE. He was also a Michigan head-to-head recruiting victory of Ohio State, coming out of Toledo. ​He also came to Michigan and probably the worst time to be utilized as a tight end: the very beginning of Rich Rod's spread offense. In all three National Signing Days that Rich Rod was in Ann Arbor for, he signed zero other tight ends. There was a lot of talk that Koger would end up flipping to DE, but he ever did.

Despite coming in with solid size and good speed, Koger finished his college career with only 59 catches -23 of them coming in 2011, in a more TE friendly offense-, 756 yards, and 9 TDs. He did save arguably his best game -4 catches for 40 yards and a TD- for his Senior Day against Ohio State in 2011.

If you gave Koger four years under Harbaugh instead of three Rodriguez spread-based years and a fusion-cuisine year of Borges, I have to wonder if he'd be playing on Sundays, now, instead of already into his coaching career.

Regardless, he still has one of the better Twitter handles I've come across: @KogerNotKroger


Seth: In Endzone/Brandon's Lasting Lessons there's a short story about how Harbaugh called Bo after taking the job at San Diego. Bo's questions: Do you have a tight end who can stick his hand in the dirt? Do you have a fullback? Harbaugh said yes, and Bo said you'll do fine.


You can read that as Bo was an i-form zealot, or you can believe Bo knew Jim well enough to know what a Harbaughffense needs. Whereas a spread offense thrives on widening the gaps defenders have to cover, the Power offense's jam is carving out new ones.

It's telling that Harbaugh took one look at his new Michigan personnel and identified Joe Kerridge as his captain. The uber-Kerridge remains the only pre-MGoBlog era man to join the ranks of the Blessed Order of St. Kovacs. That man is Kevin Dudley.

Prior to 2003 Chris Perry had the talent to threaten any gap A through E, and the inability to choose the right one, such that in 2002 B.J. Askew in Ace formations was Michigan's most effective personnel. Once Askew moved on, Michigan activated Dudley, who solved the Perry problem: Just follow 32. Perry won the Doak Walker in '03. The following year Mike Hart set a freshman record for rushing yards. They didn't do it alone.

Underutilized is probably a stretch, but Dudley did happen to come to the top of the depth chart at the same time Michigan had the best three-wide personnel in its history (Braylon/Avant/Breaston). He also had Mike DeBord calling his plays. Imagine if Harbaugh had.



You there in the peanut gallery.

: Ooh, ooh! What about Ryan Mallett?

What about him?

: Uh … I was asking you guys. Oh, now I have to write complete sentences about this? Goddamnit, Seth.

Heiko: Okay, so I guess Mallett would be intriguing entry into this thought experiment more so for what it would have meant for Michigan rather than what it would have meant for him. As I’m sure most people know, the guy was an uber-recruit who backed up Chad Henne in 2007 but then booked it for Arkansas after Rich Rod failed to make eye contact or something. At Arkansas he sat out 2008, played the next two seasons, and as a PGY-4 he set some records for quarterback stuff and earned himself a spot in the third round.

Like I said, not sure how much Harbaugh would have changed his career path. Maybe he would have been a first-round pick, although the reason he fell to the third round seemed to be due to concerns about his off-the-field shenanigans. Anyway, the biggest difference would have been that he had stayed at Michigan, and that scenario is why I even brought this up: imagine the 2008 Michigan team with a real quarterback. A real quarterback running a real offense.

I know, like, whoa, right?

Even after the mass player exodus (which you could argue would not have happened if Harbaugh had been hired that year and Mallett had stayed), Michigan had talent at a number of offensive positions. Tailback Brandon Minor was establishing himself. Future jump-ball specialist Junior Hemingway was showing promise as a sophomore. And there were guys like Top 100 receiver Greg Mathews and 5-star Kevin Grady on the roster who ended up not reaching their full potential through the transition years. I would bet a dollar those guys would have gone to the NFL had the Harbaughing happened after Carr’s retirement.

I’m getting off topic now (goddamnit, Seth), but in this fanciful alternate universe we’d have been bitching about how Michigan QB Andrew Luck got snubbed for the Heisman over the last couple years instead of trying to out-posture the folks over in East Lansing.

At this point I don’t know which storyline I’d prefer to have lived through, but I’ll have a better idea after the game on Saturday.



October 14th, 2015 at 1:05 PM ^

Tom Brady. He had a great career and I wouldn't necessarily say he was badly utilized, but I am pretty sure he wouldnt have been a 6th round pick if he played college ball under Harbaugh. I am picturing a couple extra NCs and a Heisman!


October 14th, 2015 at 1:44 PM ^

Kevin Grady is a pretty good one that I hadn't thought of. He would have been a very good fit under Harbaugh. Although, he was around during Mike Hart and Brandon Minor, both of whom also were perfect Harbaugh backs so maybe his career wouldn't have been all that different. 


October 14th, 2015 at 7:22 PM ^

The dirty little secret UM fans don't tell anyone else is that Brady was always the #2 fan choice behind Pre-Annointed Legend Drew Henson. Even though Henson never did anything on the field to confirm it, I remember everyone collectively groaning whenever Lloyd would sub in Brady for Henson.

And to be honest, even after Henson left, Brady was solid but I think if you asked any fan at the time, whether they would take Brady or Todd Collins - people would probably just shrug.

I think Harbaugh and his quaterback whispering ways could have made those Brady teams champions.


October 14th, 2015 at 1:06 PM ^

+1 for Alain, when I was a youngster he threw me one of his gloves as he was leaving the field. The kid had measurables of Shawn Crable and could have been great. Drafted by the Bears, I believe, only to end up in the CFL...I story old player memories bro...

Hail Harbo

October 14th, 2015 at 1:20 PM ^

There is the possibility that the immature Ryan Mallett of 2010 doesn't even see the end of the sesaon with Coach Harbaugh.  If Harbaugh had come in for the 2011 season it is more likely that Mallett sticks around but I still think there would be a falling out during spring practice with Mallett still transfering to Arkansas.  This is especially so if one considers a certain graduate transfer in 2011.


October 14th, 2015 at 1:36 PM ^

If there ever was a correct answer - this would be it.  Mallet was the most talented QB i have seen in High School from a pro style perspective. 

I think Harbaugh immediately humbles him, and Mallet absorbs everything Harbaugh teaches him.  He would have been our next NFL Tom Brady.

Mallet is the correct answer IMO.


October 14th, 2015 at 1:07 PM ^

Ronald Bellomy, Calvin Bell, Adrian Arrington. I love so far that Harbaugh has found good ways to use Chesson, Ways and others. I'd imagine he'd help find ways to better use some of them, other than incredibly surprising reverses.


October 14th, 2015 at 1:11 PM ^

Think about this with Henson, despite not having Harbaugh, had he come back for a senior season. The Texans would have taken him first overall instead of David Carr in the 2002 draft.


October 14th, 2015 at 1:40 PM ^

I did that career retrospective on Navarre in the preseason; he fits the profile of a guy that Harbaugh could've worked wonders with. Not a perfect passer, but talented enough that JH could've structured the offense around his strengths and hidden his weaknesses. Also, the run game would have been more effective, allowing Navarre to operate under less pressure, and special teams would not have choked away the Oregon and Iowa games in 2003.


October 14th, 2015 at 2:54 PM ^

Looking at Rudock, my first thought of him was "hey, a smaller version of Navarre, with less arm strength and a little less accurate".  

Nothing he has done in the past 6 games has changed that perception, but Rudock does have wheels when needed.

In summary, I think Navarre would have excelled in this offense.




October 14th, 2015 at 1:12 PM ^

I actually like the Tate Forcier pick more than the Denard pick (assuming Forcier actually stays). I think Mike Hart and Denard did well enough without Harbaugh to not justify picking's not like they were wasted. I actually think a guys more like Minor, brown, and Toussaint were more wasted than Hart ever was.