Pete Thamel is the worst. I don't even know where to start with this column. He even takes issue with Harbaugh not wearing a suit to Media Day and thinks it was a publicity stunt.
EDIT: Added the highlights (or lowlights) for those wanting to avoid the clicks:
1. The introduction:
We are living in the Golden Age of Harbaugh Infallibility, an era devoid of media skepticism, lauded through self-promotion and defined by the inevitability of Michigan football domination. Jim Harbaugh can say whatever he wants, wear whatever he wants and act however he’d like with complete impunity, feeding his relentless attention addiction one tweet at a time.
That, of course, is not the reality surrounding Michigan football heading into 2017. Just the feel. The reality is that Michigan projects for a third consecutive third-place finish in the Big Ten East, Harbaugh’s third consecutive loss to Ohio State and another season spent futilely chasing what Michigan feels is its rightful place atop the Big Ten. The reality of the Michigan program is that the Wolverines have lost three of their past four games, need to replace 17 starters and lost a program-record 11 picks to the NFL draft.
Harbaugh can hang out with Judge Judy, sleep at a recruit’s house and call out opposing programs and athletic directors for NCAA misdeeds. He can attend WWE events, coach first base for the Tigers and take his team on an overseas field trip to Rome. We know all that. We’ve seen him tweet about it, heard about it on his YouTube channel and been subjected to breathless 24-hour coverage of his every move.
2. "Reasonable" standards for year 3 of rebuilding a program in arguably the toughest division in college football:
Here’s a reasonable standard that Harbaugh is unlikely to live up to in year three – that of Penn State’s James Franklin and Ohio State’s Urban Meyer. Franklin won the Big Ten last season in his third year in State College, an impressive feat considering he took over a program decimated by NCAA sanctions. Ohio State won a national title in Meyer’s third season there, and Meyer also took over a program weighed down by NCAA sanctions.
3. Harbaugh "ducks" Thamel's question?
Harbaugh was asked pointedly by Yahoo Sports if all his attention-seeking efforts left him exposed for criticism with a young team. Let’s just say he didn’t exactly strap on his “iron jock strap,” to borrow his most creative media day phrase, to answer. In fact, he ducked the question with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.
4. Thamel rewrites Harbaugh's coaching history:
The purpose of this column is to serve as a reminder that the data points from his two previous stops show that there’s a shelf-life for the schtick. No member of Stanford’s athletic department would trade David Shaw for Harbaugh straight up, as Shaw continued Harbaugh’s winning momentum without any of the day-to-day headaches. And Harbaugh’s tenure with the 49ers ended so badly that they sacrificed the immediate future of the organization to get rid of Harbaugh. This isn’t to give the incompetent leadership and ownership in San Francisco a pass, but rather to point out that no team in recent NFL history has gone through greater lengths to undermine their coach.
5. The conclusion:
As Harbaugh enters year three at Michigan, his act continued by showing up at media day wearing a Michigan hat and Jumpman sweater. His coaching colleagues wore suits and sport coats. It was another stunt for attention, which will thankfully be diverted to the field when Michigan opens against Florida in Texas. That’s the start of Harbaugh’s tricky equation of keeping the on-field results matching the off-field bravado. There’s no ducking the caliber of teams Harbaugh needs to leapfrog in the Big Ten, and the truth of Michigan’s reality will soon unfold in the most honest manner possible.