SBNation: Harbaugh is Ruthless

Submitted by SoDak Blues on October 24th, 2016 at 11:31 AM

NSIAP. Fluff article from SBNation with stuff we already know, but I still love me some Harbaugh competitiveness. Show no mercy again this weekend, coach. 

But this is Harbaugh’s brand. He is a cold killer of other programs’ dreams. He doesn’t care about making other teams’ players feel good, or his own. He cares about winning for all 60 minutes. Isn’t that what he’s supposed to care about?…



October 24th, 2016 at 11:35 AM ^

They miss the point on that challenge in the 4th quarter.  

Lost the challenge, had to go for it on fourth down, got it, and... knelt out the rest of the game.


It's not about running up the score.  It's about treating every snap of every game with the same intensity, whether you're down by four or up by fifty.  You're not going to cheat Harbaugh's players out of two yards on his watch, regardless of the score.  


October 24th, 2016 at 2:24 PM ^

Exactly. There are plenty of us who still remember many games in the past where Michigan would sieze control in the first half, then try and sit on the ball and milk the clock in the second half, only to have the other team start chipping away. When you play that game of trying not to lose, it becomes very difficult to turn it back on late in the game if the opponent makes a comeback. A good team will start the game on time, prepared to play for a full 60 minutes,  and deliver knockout blows when given the chance.


October 24th, 2016 at 10:08 PM ^

a game such as that ever happening.  But if it did, I remember it like we played almost the entire thing on cruise control, they were more talented than we thought, we woke up at the very end, too late...

Hypothetically speaking, of course. such thing ever happened.

Durham Blue

October 24th, 2016 at 11:44 AM ^

Totally agree with this.  Probably the "wrong" thing to do in that situation is to be a point-whore and throw a pass to the end zone.  That would be considered rubbing it in, although I would not have minded it seeing as I had Michigan -40 in my bet.  But the whole point of challenging the spot there was to get the first down and kneel out the game.


October 24th, 2016 at 1:24 PM ^

We're now a meritocracy.

Our third stringers deserve an opportunity to show what they can do, even during garbage time.

Nothing personal against other teams. But that's just how Harbaugh does it.

It's not to make the other teams look bad but give an opportunity for our own kids to look better than the starters. Every snap our players are auditioning for the coaching staff.


October 24th, 2016 at 2:31 PM ^

Could not agree more.  To that sanctimonious (and innaccurate) Sparty Mom who took to social media following the drubbing of Rutgers and calling it "classless" was all THIRD and FOURTH string players from midway through the 3rd quarter on. 

It's just such a different team/roster than it was just a couple years ago - meritocracy is right.


October 24th, 2016 at 3:29 PM ^

Indeed.  And the two-point conversions came when Rutgers tried to overload the right side of the line, assuming that Michigan wouldn't go for two even when Rutgers gave it to them.  Harbaugh fixed that assumption first chance he got, and Rutgers had to play it honestly after that.

Harbaugh isn't being mean or even ruthless; he is simply doing what he thinks is best for his team.  if you don't want to see Michigan run up the score with the 3rd and 4th stringers, STOP THEM.

Wisconsin Wolverine

October 24th, 2016 at 7:31 PM ^

I have frequently felt, while watching Harbaugh's Michigan offense do cruel things while up by many points, that they are running war exercises because they need the live fire experience.  Like he's trying to teach his men something on every snap, like he's trying to give them a chance to prove something to themselves, like every down of real football against real competition is sacred and should be treated that way.

Stringer Bell

October 24th, 2016 at 11:35 AM ^

He doesn't care about making his own players feel good?  Seeing how many players have gotten playing time (due to the number of blowouts) makes me disagree with that.  If he wanted to dominate for 60 minutes and completely kill a programs will to live he would just leave his starters in.

SoDak Blues

October 24th, 2016 at 11:40 AM ^

Don't completely agree with the sentiment of the article on this point, but I get the drift. If you go back to that Speight confrontation in the HBO special, it is obvious that Harbaugh wants the most of out of his players even if it doesn't make them "feel good". He is a shark, and he wants his players to be the same shark, in my very humble opinion. 


October 24th, 2016 at 11:45 AM ^

I can confirm that positive blowouts are fun times for the bench, and when expected blowouts don't happen it is very frustrating for bench players who were hoping to get on the field, particularly if said bench player is a senior on a team that has under performed in prior years.

And the spot on that challenge was so egregious - we should have been 4th and six inches - it was the principle of the matter. I bet Harbaugh's players feel their coach has their back.


October 24th, 2016 at 11:54 AM ^

Aside from the distribution of playing time, carries, targets, etc--the most obvious rebuttal to this point is the effusive praise he showers on his players. Show me a single presser where he isn't singling out multiple players--and not all starters by any means and talking about them with such high praise that you rarely hear from coaches these days. It's very rare to hear him criticize a player in public. In practice, etc that would be another story but you also never see him berate a player on the sideline either. There is a maturity to his style that shows how much he has been around the game his whole life. No single play is important enough to go crazy on a player for a mistake. You saw it in how he handled the mistakes made in the Utah and Sparty games last year. Yes he goes crazy on officials but that is to gain an edge for his team in future play calls. I love the fact that he is always talking so positively about how individuals perform.

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October 24th, 2016 at 12:23 PM ^

Harbaugh has been amazing from a managerial standpoint. Take public responsibility for failure, share credit for successes, and persistently demonstrate having your players' backs. Coach PurpleFace could learn a thing or two from this approach (though I sincerely hope he does not but still survives long enough to watch them go head to head when the series resumes).


October 24th, 2016 at 10:23 PM ^

to make them feel good; just words or actions.  Winning feels good.  Scoring feels good.  Playing feels good.  Playing 'real' plays with a chance to do something with your playing time feels good.  Maybe Harbaugh has Michigan's coaches give their same effort for the second and third stringers that they do for the first.  Not treating it like garbage time means everyone knows what it's like to play 'real' football and will be ready if called on with the game on the line.


October 24th, 2016 at 11:43 AM ^

Sounds like another guy who reads the score lines as opposed to watching entire games. We could have put up more points on both Rutgers and Illinois if we really wanted to.   Also, where the author sees the fake punt and 2-pointer as savage cruelty to the other team, it could just as easily be a case of Harbaugh testing these plays out in game situatiions.  

Of course, there are a lot worse things to be accused of than winning games by too much,

BTW, what is NSIAP?  Not Sorry If Already Posted?  Feisty.



October 24th, 2016 at 2:02 PM ^

"Yeah, The Hustle, that's how you get more candy," Harbaugh said. "You can get a lot of candy from going out there and walking from house to house. But you can get a lot more by jogging from house to house. And if you can sprint, you'll get the most candy."


"The strategy is to run, goes as long as we can, as fast as we can," Harbaugh told Le Batard. "Then the strategy is having a second costume ready. Once you've hit every house in the neighborhood, you want to come home and change into a secondary costume and go back and hit all the houses again.


The best part is when Le Batard asked Harbaugh if he could come up with an example of "something more ridiculous than that" in his family.


"I don't look at it as ridiculous at all, in any form or fashion" Harbaugh answered.


October 24th, 2016 at 11:44 AM ^

Many people just don't understand Harbaugh.  Some of this is competition of course but the rest is calculation & prudence.  He wants to keep his offense out there not to run up the score late in the game but to give the bench snaps & minutes.  Scoring is almost secondary he is literally out there coaching his players using gametime.  Testing out plays, gauging reactions & how players handle themselves in weird calls.  Gametime is invaluable and he's turning bench frosh into veterans for the next season.  Critical thinking is a skill that is rare these days unfortunately especially in media types.


October 24th, 2016 at 12:07 PM ^

Any opportunity that Harbaugh has to try out a play in a game situation he'll take.  Its like the 2 point conversion against Rutgers.  Who knows when we'll have to use it in a game where it might make a real difference in the outcome?  They've now tried it once and it worked.  The fourth down play against Illinois is exactly the same thing.  It is not his fault that these teams are not competitive, but he is going to use every game to get this team ready for those games that aren't gimme's.

M Vader

October 24th, 2016 at 3:12 PM ^

I remeber correctly, wasn't even 'called' by Harbaugh in real time but rather planned as a contingency before the game started.  It was a play that the point kick team had available to use at their discretion if Rutgers left a hole in the middle of the field.  To their credit, the kick team noticed the hole and used the play like they were asked to do before the game.  Harbaugh didn't say "go for two", the play was just there for the taking.


October 25th, 2016 at 7:25 AM ^

This is correct.  Rutgers was overloading the right side of the line and leaving only three players to the left.   You can't allow the other team to take advantages like that; you have to punish them for even trying.  Every Michigan opponent has that on tape now:  you try to fuck with Michigan, Michigan will fuck with you.  In the long run, it is the players who benefit because they won't be facing an injury-inducing overload.


October 24th, 2016 at 12:14 PM ^

Agreed, just like his sideline tirades.  People were taking bets on when he would be ejected this season but it always feels like his explosions are calculated to fire up his team and make sure the refs know that the call was wrong.  He won't get ejected because it's more theater than actual rage like Kelly displays.


October 24th, 2016 at 11:45 AM ^

Maybe I just look at it differently as a Michigan fan, but I don't think Harbaugh wants to crush other teams' dreams.  He clearly puts in backups and goes very vanilla once the game is firmly in hand unless there is some slight against the team like Rutgers team last year.  But this year, he went for 2 because they had practiced that all week from seeing a flaw in the Rutgers FG defense and called only 3 passes in the 2nd haf. I'd guess the fake punt was similar or just practicing something so they could get a 1st and keep kiling clock to end it earlier.  The spot challenge was because it was wrong, not to put more points up. 

However, after the way MSU acted last year I won't be surprised of Michigan does decide to humiliate MSU.