A call for calm

Submitted by michgoblue on October 10th, 2017 at 5:38 PM

I have seen a ton of panic and negativity on this board since Saturday, but I think that if everyone can take a step back, there is a larger picture that explans so much of our struggles this season, and which and might provide a ray of hope.  

It is fairly common after a coaching change for a coach to take a step back in year 3 because the exiting coach almost always recruited poorly during his last year or so (by virtue of being on the hot seat).  As a result, while a new coach often comes into a situation in which he has talented upper classmen on the roster, by year 3, most of those players are gone and there is a gaping hole where the senior and junior talen should be.  

That is precisely what we are going through right now.  For Harbaugh's first two seasons, he was able to somewhat benefit from the upperclassmen that were on the roster from Hoke's first few successful recruiting classes.  Those guys are gone, and in their place, our upperclassmen are made up of Hoke's much weaker last two classes.  Those classes were followed by the disaster of a transition class that resulted from Michigan hiring Harbaugh almost on the eve of National Signing Day.  

Harbaugh is not the first coach to experience initial success, followed by a tough 3rd year.  The same thing happened to Hoke based upon RR's last few classes.  While that may not be comforting, perhaps the following few examples will make everyone feel better:

Dabo Swinney - went 6-7 in his 3rd year, following a 9-5 2nd year.  From year 4 forward, he hasn't won less than 10 games.

Urban Meyer (Florida edition) - following a 13 win national championship season in 2006, the program took a step back in 2007 and only won 9 games.  That 3rd season was an outlier as it was followed by consecutive 13-win seasons in years 4 and 5.

Nick Saban (LSU edition) - followed a 10-win second season with an 8-5 3rd season, only to win 13 games (and a national championship) in year 4.

Nick Saban (Bama edition) - Hist first two full seaons were 12 and 14 wins (with a National Championship in year 2).  In year 3, he took a relative step back to 10 wins, only to follow that with 12 and 13 win season (and 2 more national championships).

Mark Dantonio - after taking MSU to a 9 win second season (which, historically, is a great season for them), Mork went 6-7 in year 3, only to rebound to an 11-2 conference title season in year 4.

A few observations:

1.  Each of those guys is a massive douchebag.  Not necessarily relevant, but it jumps off the page.

2.  Harbaugh may not recover as quickkly in year 4 as these guys because his transition class was really small and weak (not on him), and moreover, his first few classes really whiffed on OL).  

3.  Look at some of the young players on our roster.  Aside from OL, which we need to fix ASAP (and which should resolve itself as our young line matures over the next 2 years), we are STOCKED with young talent.  Unfortunately, this season, that talent is playing against older, stronger, more experienced players who are more fundamentally sound just from being older, stronger and more experienced.  As these guys get older, stronger and more experienced, I think that the sky is the limit for our team.

tl;dr version - everyone chill out; we are really young; coaches struggle in year 3, even great coaches.  history is a guide, will be rebound nicely over the next year or so.



October 10th, 2017 at 6:11 PM ^

I get what OP is getting at here, but it's time to hold the brakes on the Meyer/Saban comparisons. 

These comparisons are half the reason why everyone is laughing at Michigan and why Michigan's fanbase is having a crisis of confidence after losing this weekend. 


Meyer and Saban are a couple steps above Harbaugh. They are the exception, not the rule. 

If they're Tier 1, then Dabo Swinney and Jimbo Fisher are Tier 2. 

I would then place Harbaugh with the likes of Chris Petersen, Gary Patterson, Mark Dantonio, David Shaw in the Tier 3 category. 


If you notice, Harbaugh also lacks the hardware many of these coaches already have.


The expectations have been way too high since he got here, and Jim is also culpable with his antics off the football field. 


October 10th, 2017 at 6:24 PM ^

I dunno, Harbaugh doesn't have the hardware, but I feel like Swinney is the perfect comparison, and what having/trusting the right guy can do.

Dabo was an interim in 2008, and then a full time coach in 2009. From 2009-2015, things weren't perfect for Clemson; while they were piling up 10 win seasons, their record against rivals (South Carolina, GT, and FSU) was terrible. They went 1-5 against USCe, 3-4 against GT, and 2-4 against FSU. I mean, Clemsoning was a term for a reason

But Dabo stayed the course, made some coaching adjustments (firing 1 coordinator, and replacing another who got an HC gig), and now these past 2.5 years, they've lost 2 games total, gone to the playoffs twice, and won a NC last year.

Stringer Bell

October 11th, 2017 at 7:35 AM ^

Aided a lot by defense and special teams.  OL has been bad all 3 years he's been here, it's been absolutely atrocious this year and is getting worse every game.  And his playcalling is questionable at best.  And it's not like he's some ace recruiter.  He brings nothing to the table and we have 2 very capable coaches who can take over his two jobs full time.


October 11th, 2017 at 11:03 AM ^

Lol, yes, the defense and special teams are the main reason we averaged 40 points per game last year and were 11th in the nation in PPG. We also had more rushing yards per game than the likes of Wisconsin and USC, so I get its fun to say the offensive line has been horrible for 3 years, but it hasn’t. If this board can be all reactionary and use a shitty statistic like tackles for loss or sacks to say the line has been horrible (without any analysis whatsoever), then I’m pretty sure we can use points per game to say they weren’t bad last year. I’m not thrilled with the line this year, but I have zero concern moving forward. People have been bitching that true freshmen can’t overtake redshirt sophomores on the line, so I’m just sick of shitty hot takes like “the line has been bad every year under Harbaugh even though our offense has been above average and we’ve won 10 games in both years.”

Stringer Bell

October 11th, 2017 at 12:19 PM ^

Well yeah, defense and special teams contributed to us being #1 in average field position last year, which undoubtedly aided the offense.  Our offense was ranked like 40th in the nation per S&P last year, which IMO more accurately reflects the quality of the offense especially given the struggles against Iowa and OSU.  40th isn't bad, but it's about average as far as power 5 teams go.


I get that we have a young OL this year, but with a young OL you expect them to get better every game, not worse.  People like to point the blame at Speight and O'Korn but there's no question that they're under a ton of duress every game.  And Drevno's simply not good as an offensive coordinator or recruiter.  He's had his time to prove his worth and he hasn't done it.  I don't see why we can't just let Frey take over the OL and Pep take over the playcalling duties.


October 10th, 2017 at 6:51 PM ^

The problem is the measuring stick. Saban and Meyer's national championships were with rosters LOADED with blue chip recruits. Harbaugh doesn't have that right now, nor did he have it at Stanford. He did, however, have a 12-1 season with mostly 2 star players and a very limited assistant coaching budget at a program that has to deal with admissions standards that are higher than his opponents'.

Oh, and he took over a San Francisco team that was as bad as the Lions and intwo years had an NFC championship.

I would say right now if we are comparing him to Meyer and Saban, he only gets an incomplete.