Athlon ranks Harbaugh #4 Coach in Big Ten

Submitted by Lakeyale13 on June 25th, 2018 at 2:15 PM


   I don't think its a correct ranking, but I also don't find it unfair (does that make any sense? LOL).  #1 Urban.  #2 Dantonio  #3 Franklin.



June 25th, 2018 at 2:42 PM ^

Based off what results is it incorrect? Dantanio is 2-1 against him despite having the worse team all 3 years and twice on the road. And you can argue the endings were flukey or whatever you want but the point is MSU took a worse team and were within a td on the last play of the game in 2015 on the road and were up 14-0 before the rain this past year despite Michigan coming off a bye week. Harbaugh got outcoached in both of those games. I'd argue Harbaugh is a better coach than Franklin but Franklin does have a big ten championship and a bcs bowl win. Neither of which Harbaugh has. At a certain point you actually have to win to get ranked above those coaches, you can't be ranked off potential and close games with bounces not going your way.

Beilein 4 Life

June 25th, 2018 at 3:43 PM ^

Also, him saying that Dantonio got them within a touchdown is an extremely nice way of saying they got their ass kicked and were down 3 scores in the middle of the 4th before we went into turtle mode. There was zero chance MSU wins that game at any point throughout. That wasn’t good coaching by Dantonio. Only an MSU homer would say being down by 13 points with 4 seconds to go is an awesome game plan for the losing coach. Although ak47 seems to be an MSU homer, so it fits

Beilein 4 Life

June 25th, 2018 at 4:56 PM ^

If you’re going to constantly tell us how good Dantonio is, it is tough to tell which game you were referencing that it mattered that they were within a touchdown of. Since you said they had the worse team, I just assumed you didn’t mean the MSU team that made the playoffs. My apologies that I didn’t know Harbaugh’s first team at Michigan was better than Dantonio’s playoff team. Plus, people don’t really reference being within a touchdown on the last play if they also win said game. I guess they do when trying to make a shitty point that it wasn’t really fluky because they were within a touchdown. Them being within a touchdown doesn’t mean they were a worse team and it doesn’t mean you can just write off how rare that result actually was. Dantonio was outcoached that game as they had the better team and needed that play to win


June 25th, 2018 at 5:38 PM ^

Jesus do you not remember people going into that 2015 game? I think we were a double digit favorite and Sam Webb was literally saying msu had no shot. There is a reason that team lost 38-0 against Bama and its because they weren't actually elite. Yes I believe Michigan was the better team, I watched that game and MSU took an offense with less pieces and stuck around in  a game on the road in which they had a talent and experience defecit. Rudock still couldn't complete a deep ball to save his life at that point and our offense played the end of the game conservatively. Just like Harbaugh has played most of the big games conservatively except for osu this past year when he had nothing to lose and its been one of the bigger frustrations with him.  At worst 2015 was a draw in terms of coaching performance, you can say 2016 was a win, and 2017 was a Dantonio win in terms of coaching. At worst they are 1-1-1 against each other in coaching and Dantonio has a big ten title and bcs bowl win. So once again, based on results I don't see why people are upset about this ranking. Its a ranking I think about 90% of non Michigan homer fans would agree with.


June 25th, 2018 at 3:26 PM ^

I would agree with what you have to say here, as far as JH's time in the B1G and maybe that is what they are solely looking at. However, for a career on everything JH has done as a coach, it is tough to rank anyone in the B1G in front of him, maybe Meyer......


June 25th, 2018 at 5:53 PM ^

Maybe Meyer?? Dude has won three national championships and is one of two coaches (also Saban) to win national championships at two different schools -- and you think he may be a better coach than JH? I love me some JH and can see the argument for him as #2 on this list taking into account entire career achievements (including NFL), but STOP IT


June 25th, 2018 at 3:42 PM ^

This is a results game. Urban has finished ahead of Harbaugh all three years they have competed. Both MSU and PSU have finish ahead of Michigan two of Harbaugh’s three years. All of those coaches have Big Ten titles on Harbaugh’s watch. So why exactly should Harbaugh be ranked ahead of any of them?

Perkis-Size Me

June 25th, 2018 at 6:40 PM ^

Whatever you’re having, I’ll have some too.

I assume you’re trying to tag on Harbaugh’s NFL results to the equation as well. The NFL is irrelevant in this conversation. In college, Harbaugh has never won a conference title at the D1 level. Hasn’t finished better than third in his own division in the B1G, is 0-3 against Meyer, 1-2 against Dantonio, and though he’s 2-1 against Franklin, those two wins were against PSU teams that either had an awful year, or were at the tail end of getting its head out of its ass.

Harbaugh deserves to be no higher than 4, and should be arguably at 5, lower than Chryst.


June 29th, 2018 at 2:39 PM ^

From a purely neutral perspective, I would say that putting Urban ahead of Harbaugh is the right call. He does have multiple national championships, and his team has been in contention for the B1G title for the past 5 years.

I might be slightly biased, but I believe that Harbaugh is a better coach than Dantonio. I think Dantonio may have the advantage in developing less talented recruits, but once Harbaugh is able to build a more talented program, he will be able to surpass Dantonio.

Putting Franklin ahead of Harbaugh is almost criminal. Franklin is a hack who has been able to lean on an amazing coordinator (Moorehead) and a star player (Barkley). I see Penn State crumbling once Franklin is forced to win in a less favorable situation.


June 25th, 2018 at 3:21 PM ^

And Dantonio was just farting around his first three seasons at MSU? Were those years at all indicative of his ability as a coach? Harbaugh didn't exactly inherit a full arsenal when he took over, and unfortunately he has to be compared to two coaches who have their programs humming. Otoh he has a track record at three previous stops where he has shown he can build an elite program as well as anyone else, and this is generally with much less talent than his competition. But okay let's ignore all that.


June 25th, 2018 at 4:01 PM ^

I think he is excellent at player development and slightly above average on playcalling etc but absolutely atrocious at recruiting (which is a huge part of a college coaches job). He wouldn't last long at a better university because he wouldn't be able to hide behind the little brother disrespect shtick. After 3 or 4 seasons of the same level of recruiting he's had as msu, he would be fired. Plain and simple. 

So yes, to your point, he's at his max potential. And now that he has to recruit against osu, UM, and psu.... well just take a look at 2019 recruiting board for them. Id say his best years are behind him. 


June 25th, 2018 at 5:32 PM ^

I can't believe this exchange actually motivated me to look up Dantonio's record at MSU.

After the typical three year getting started period (which did include a 9-4 season with a bowl loss in year two), he generally has had his team in good position for the past 8 years (except for 2012 & 2016). In summary, regarding season record, out of 11 years, he has had 7 good years and 4 bad years. 

I think bowl results are a good indicator of coaching capability because you are typically matched up with a team similar in accomplishments that given season, yet one you are less familiar with. You also have 3-4 weeks to prepare despite other factors you have to coach around (players leaving, time off, distraction, etc).

In that regard Dantonio started off awful going 0-4 in his first four years (you could also argue he made a bowl his first 4 years). He then won 4 straight. Had that thing happen against Alabama, missed a bowl, and then won last year. In total he's 5-5 in eleven seasons but it is more accurate to point out that once he got his program going (year 4) he is 5-2 while missing one year. 

I really hate saying this, but the guy can coach. All of the data supports this. You can rationalize each win and loss if you really want to, but the overall record says he's a good coach no matter what he can or can't recruit. 

That said, I still think he is a curmudgeonly asshole.

SMart WolveFan

June 25th, 2018 at 2:25 PM ^

As a college coach, in overall effectiveness, yeah that's a fair ranking.

Danantonio has a slight advantage over Harbaugh's Stanford years as 'low ranked teams upsetting the big dogs" and, while Harbaugh has done a great job "turning around the perception of UofM", who can argue that the difficulty of the PSU job has Franklin, at least, neck and neck with him.

Of course, rebounding from the last 18 months is another challenge that could separate Harbaugh from the pack.


June 25th, 2018 at 2:27 PM ^



Dude is 1-3 vs Michigan and lost by 40 the year he won his "championship"

I hate these lists every offseason because the recency bias is insane.

The Baughz

June 25th, 2018 at 2:28 PM ^

Listen all that matters is wins, and Harbaugh just doesn’t have enough of them. At least quality ones. I would flip him and Franklin and keep 1 and 2 how they are. It pains me to say it, but it is what it is.

I think Harbaugh is better than Dantoni, but I cant argue with the order given their respective records. I don’t care just as long as UM beats their ass in Lansing.


June 25th, 2018 at 4:07 PM ^

"I think Harbaugh is better than Dantoni, but I cant argue with the order given their respective records. I don’t care just as long as UM beats their ass in Lansing."


I'm 100% on board with this. I think Harbaugh is the better coach. However, we have to win to prove it. 

I think many assume that Harbaugh would just waltz in and dominate. They forget that many were thinking 7-5 would be good his first year, and are forgetting how bad of a shape we were in.

I'm happy with JH. I wouldn't trade him for any other coach in the B1G with the possible exception of Meyer. But it is what it is, and until we start rolling in the wins I'll let the rankins fall where they are and not worry about it. 


June 25th, 2018 at 2:29 PM ^

What has Harbaugh done to be above Chryst and Fitzgerald?  Harbaugh had one solid year with Hoke’s kids and hasn’t done shit since.  Fitzgerald does a hell of a lot more with his kids and Chryst actually competes for Big Ten championships. 

Winchester Wolverine

June 25th, 2018 at 2:30 PM ^

Fuck Athlon. I get Urban, but Mork and Franklin? The Franklin love is funny, considering that until recently his head was on the chopping block. We'll see how well he does without his OC and the nation's best running back.

I look forward to kicking PSU's ass this season. Same with MSU.