In Defense of Jim Harbaugh - (As if the man needs defending)
Despised SEC troll Pete Finebaum is at it again labeling Jim Harbaugh a mediocre coach. Most of what Feinbaum spews concerning Michigan football is to stir up our fanbase and draw attention to his work. In the manner in which Michigan lost yesterday, I would expect a professional to display mature tact when assessing the game but that is too much to ask of Pete. However, I believe the troll Finebaum is no different from many college football fans today including many Michigan fans and because of that perspective is needed.
The delusionary nature of fans
College football fans including ours have unrealistic expectations of teams and programs. Everyone wants to win and with college football resources are a plenty. No coach is going to win every game not Saban, Swinney, Meyer, Franklin, Fisher, or Harbaugh. A delusional FSU fan decided to taunt Jimbo Fisher after yesterday’s loss to Louisville. Fisher has only won nearly 80% of the games he has coached; achieved four top ten rankings; and won one national championship. Jimbo Fisher is an excellent coach whose sole downfall is that his first string all world quarterback suffered a season ending injury.
We were delighted when Ohio State was crushed by Clemson 31-0 in the national playoff and equally delighted when the same happened to Mark Dantonio the previous year. Oh that same Clemson team beat Saban’s Alabama squad as well. No coach wins every game and even top coaches have teams which are blown out from time-to-time. We are still fans of amateur athletics! Students who have to go to class, make grades, and then find time to play football at the highest level.
Michigan is one of many top programs. We live in a different era in two ways. First, many college football programs have top level coaches and facilities. No longer do you have a handful of major college programs that carry the bulk of the limelight and big games for college football. TCU can field a team to beat USC; Troy can beat LSU; Boise State can beat Oklahoma; Michigan State can lose to Maryland; and I can go on and on. Michigan is not a part of the “big two and little eight division” anymore.
Second, we don’t share division titles any longer. Previously Michigan could lose two conference games and still have the opportunity to win a Big 10 championship. Michigan has 42 of them; how many are shared titles (WD probably knows)? Those days are over and Michigan not only has to win essentially every game in their division which is the toughest in college football but then play in a championship game. We will win a lot more of those titles and we will do so with Coach Harbaugh just not this year.
I read a lot of griping about Harbaugh’s offense and how it must be simplified for the college game. No it does not. Jim Harbaugh owes we the fans nothing. He owes his athletes the opportunity to excel beyond college football. Many of those athletes come here to be coached into the next level and that includes running a pro-style offense. Coach Harbaugh will recruit a quarterback (he has two of them) that can run this offense and the offense will be efficient. Implementing an offense that diminishes a player’s opportunity to compete at the next level is not a sacrifice the Michigan program should be making. Michigan’s recruiting advantage for every position is “the opportunity” to have a greater chance of making an NFL roster.
On the same topic, Mike McCray must stay on the field. McCray may be removed in specific situations but he is the only player with extensive experience to position the others correctly to be able to stop plays. For all of McCray’s deficiencies with his speed, the drop off for successfully defending plays would be far greater if he is off the field. He is staying put and it is in the best interest of the team. He earned his role as captain of the defense.
Same argument could be made for the quarterback position. Don’t expect to see Peters in any game where Michigan has a chance to win this season and don’t blame Harbaugh for putting the team above us. Fans can easily sit back and say “what is the difference between 8-4 and 10-2” as we put in none of the work and all of the Monday morning quarterbacking. Peters or McCaffery will come in at the right time, when needed, and it will be for their best interest from a coaching veteran who has a long track record of developing talent. The same man who gave Jake Rudock great coaching and a possibility at a long NFL career will do the same for Speight, O'Korn, Peters, and McCaffery.
Equally amazing to me is that we the fans post as if we are able to see a deficiency and have a magical solution that will make everything better. Of course this solution is what the coach is unable to see. Fire Drevno, Fire Pep, or Fire them all!!!! Ever ponder the consequences of such a knee jerk reaction? Brian Kelly was applauded by our fans for his coaching changes midseason but most of those same fans would be livid if our team with this talent went 4-8. Kelly’s staff is only in year one and there is no guarantees that they will have a continued high level of success. Jim Harbaugh is surrounded by coaches; all of his family members are coaches; and he is not oblivious to the issues of the team. Harbaugh is not going to fire anyone midseason nor should he.
This is a personal pet peeve of mine. The Jim Harbaugh has “won nothing” statement as if the be all and end all is having a championship which Jim Harbaugh has those as well.
As a college player
Two Big Ten Championships (81,86)
A Fiesta Bowl Championship (85)
An unclaimed National Championship (85, Matthews, Sagarin)
As an NFL player
NFC Central Division Champion (Chicago Bears, 1990)
As a recruiter
2002 I-AA National Champion - Western Kentucky
As an assistant
2002 AFC Champion – Oakland Raiders – QB Coach
As a college coach
Two time pioneer league champion – University of San Diego (2005, 2006)
Orange Bowl Champion – Stanford Cardinals (2010)
As a professional coach
Two time NFC West Champion (2011, 2012)
NFC Champion (2012)
Even without word “champion” next to his name, it is clear to see that Harbaugh excels at his job because of the improved level of play and winning percentage everywhere he has coached. All those big coaching names above had similar records on their way to building elite programs. Michigan is better because of Jim Harbaugh. I hope he coaches Michigan for another 15 years. I hope people will learn to endure the losses and enjoy this man as he coaches Michigan to more championships in the future.
In short, Paul Finebaum is a douche, I would hope Michigan fans are not.