SIAP: 2018 season a "tipping point" for Harbaugh

Submitted by Decatur Jack on May 29th, 2018 at 6:07 PM

Basically, Bud Elliott of SB nation (their recruiting beat writer) thinks that Harbaugh needs to "actually win some big games" otherwise recruiting could/will implode a la Brady Hoke following 2013.

Michigan did not sign a top-100 prospect in the class of 2018, and the 2019 class hasn’t has a top-200 player commit this calendar year.
... recruiting against Michigan right now is pretty easy: Harbaugh has never won the Big Ten East. He’s never even finished second. He has two ties for third and, most recently, a fourth-place finish.

His offense has been a disappointment. Michigan’s finishes in yards per game so far under Harbaugh are 105th, 58th, and 69th.
An honest assessment of the 2018 roster reveals a deep, talented team primed for a bounce-back. Almost all of the players on this roster were recruited by Harbaugh. It’s go time. If Michigan can go 9-3 or 10-2 in the regular season and win its bowl game, then Harbaugh’s 2017 really will look like a blip compared to 10-win seasons in 2015, 2016, and 2018.

Beating the teams on the field against whom Michigan recruits would really help.

Penn State’s recruiting is on a big roll. Ohio State might sign the No. 1 class in the nation. Wisconsin is putting together its best recruiting class in recent memory.

Harbaugh is 0-3 against Ohio State, 1-2 against Michigan State, 2-1 against Penn State, and 1-1 against Wisconsin. All four are on the schedule this season, as is Notre Dame.

Winning a conference title wouldn’t hurt either. Harbaugh finished second in the Pac-10 twice at Stanford, but has never won an FBS conference.



Indy Pete - Go Blue

May 29th, 2018 at 6:19 PM ^

Not my words, those belong to Chris Partridge. There is a lot of confidence amongst the coaching staff this season. I think this team is going to put up and the haters will have to shut up.


May 29th, 2018 at 6:14 PM ^

All true. 4 years and no hardware to speak of looks bad to a kid who already has no memory of Michigan ever being a conference power.

Ron Utah

May 29th, 2018 at 6:24 PM ^

Harbaugh will get this team to 10 wins (including the bowl).  The question is if the pieces are in place for a special season--winning the B1G and/or making the CFP.

If he doesn't do that, Michigan's recruiting might drop off a bit, but I think this article overstates the issue.  There is still a combination of athletics and academics that many schools will have a hard time matching, and the facilities are top notch.  Add in the number of surefire draft picks and Harbaugh and Co. will have plenty of recruiting firepower.

That said, obvious is obvious, and another bad year (8 wins or less) would hurt recruiting.


May 29th, 2018 at 7:48 PM ^

is not a special season, unfortunately.  That means 9-3 RS, and another finish out of the money in our own division.  This is the year Harbaugh needs to show whether he is an elite coach at this level or whether he's going to be perennially 9-3ish.  If he can't win big with the talent he has this year, how much more does he need?


May 29th, 2018 at 9:03 PM ^

Well, I'm not a Spartan account and I don't think 10 wins, including the bowl, constitutes great season. It does reset opinions about Michigan football. I think Harbaugh is still a top coach, but needs a breakout year. Sometimes great coaching is not enough and the ball has to bounce the right way. Our public perception is not high. It's time for Harbaugh to captain a really good year.


May 29th, 2018 at 9:11 PM ^

That's fine. But everyone should have known this off-season was going to suck. You lose all the message board fights with rivals, SEC, everyone. The bowl game shit on everything. Last year sucked. 2015 and 2016 were excellent, both fantastic coaching jobs.

And there's a big difference between a Michigan fan expressing disappointment and a sad MSU fan posing as one.


May 29th, 2018 at 11:01 PM ^

But 2019 might not be better than 2018.  Despite the schedule being a touch more favorable, you're looking at losing Gary, Chase, Bush Jr, Hudson, Hill, Long, & Kinnel and that's just from the defense.  Offense you're looking at Higdon for sure and who knows if Patterson does well maybe him too.  

It's a lot to ask for Michigan to go win a ranked game on the road since its been over a decade since they've done that, but if they cannot do it this year then who knows when it will ever happen again.  This team is stacked with talent, just need to coach it up and use it the right way.


May 29th, 2018 at 9:57 PM ^

Literally nobody said they wanted Harbaugh fired or anything close to that, we already know how much you like to jump on the "Well if we fire x coach of Michigan or any Detroit sports team who do you replace him with?!" argument.


May 30th, 2018 at 2:50 PM ^

Since Meyer took over OSU has had the following ranked recruiting classes (ESPN)

2012 - #6 (12-0)

2013 - #8 (12-2)

2014 - #7 (14-1) NC

2015 - #6 (12-1)

2016 - #5 (11-2)

2017 - #2 (12-2)

2018 - #2

Average Recruiting Class - #5.14

Average Finish - 12-1.3


Clemson during that time

2012 - #10 (11-2)

2013 - #6 (11-2)

2014 - #12 (10-3)

2015 - #4 (14-1)

2016 - #8 (14-1) NC

2017 - #10 (12-2)

2018 - #5

Average - #7.86

Average Finish - 12-1.8


So, it's very close but the numbers speak for themselves.  They both have one championship (both against Bama).  But, OSU slightly out-recruits Clemson.  So if I had to rank them I'd say 

1. Bama

2. OSU

3. Clemson


May 29th, 2018 at 6:24 PM ^

Each team has been filled with some type of short-coming. If our punter would have just kept the ball, we would have beaten MSU in 2015, if we get a stop in the OSU game in 2016 we go to the playoff, If we have a competent QB last year, we win 10 games and probably beat MSU. There may be a ton of "If's" but its true. The blame is gonna be on harbaugh but in all honesty, the luck and crappy situations turned the heat up, and that is why he is constantly faced with these types of articles. 

The Fan in Fargo

May 29th, 2018 at 7:22 PM ^

Exactly. Even though the team played pretty poorly at times, I always had that feeling that the offense really was close to starting to roll. The running game is already primed and ready to pop, just need the passing game to ice the defenses and it's over for all of those bitch asses in the B1G. We all know that even with a guy like Rudock, they very possibly had easy shots to beat wiscy, sharty and bucky. How do they not? The wide-receivers would've rallied behind their leader. Don't forget that the defense was smacking around the nittay lions early on too. Had the offense had a pulse, could've been a close game. They played their best game in the past five years though. Maybe the decade. No more night games there by the way. They are obsessed with Michigan in the sickest way if you catch my drift. Like Michigan is some little kid? Yeah and South Carolina had a bunch of idiot athletes. Should've won that game. I'm getting pumped already. Go Blue! Just Win Baby!!

Hail Harbo

May 29th, 2018 at 9:13 PM ^

I'd wager, if you were to ask Coach Harbaugh about luck, he'd say he doesn't  believe in it.  He'd tell you that teams make their own luck by being prepared.  
Was it MSU luck that their 11 man rush gave Blake O'Neill something other than the snap to think about?  Was it really bad luck that the Michigan D was worn out in 2016 thus unable to stop OSU?  Was it just OSU luck that their own 3rd string QB took them to the national championship? 


May 29th, 2018 at 9:39 PM ^

You want to focus on the things you can control as a coach and a player and you cannot control luck so it's a useless consideration for them.  On the outside however, fans love to do this.  No one is saying Harbaugh et. al could not do things to improve their chances.  However, when you have two fairly even teams both playing hard, the outcome can, although not always, come down to plain ole luck.  Harbaugh may not admit this publicly, but that doesn't make it wrong.


May 30th, 2018 at 2:15 AM ^

I really do not get this idea that luck plays no role into things. Sure, you prepare to put yourself into great position to have luck not affect you however luck is very much a real thing.
For instance, Michigan fumbled 2 times verse MSU last year and MSU fumble 3 times in the game as well. Although, MSU recovered all the fumbles, and actually advanced the 3rd for a first late in the game. If your premise is true, and luck is really just being more prepared than the other team, MSU must practice stripping the ball in a way that makes it bounce right to their guys; conversely, they must practice getting the ball to bounce to the only offensive guy looking at the fumbled ball when they fumble themselves.
Teams simply have to be prepared and catch the lucky bounces to have a great year. You can say bama is the exception because they have a vastly better roster than almost everyone, however, they may not need the lucky bounce here and there, but when they do need the other team to not get several lucky breaks or they lose to teams they have no business too.


May 29th, 2018 at 6:30 PM ^

I think most of us would agree. The thing is, this team has such a great opportunity to really change the narrative. There will be many chances to get big wins considering the ridiculous schedule. All rivals on the road and a win over any one of them will be major. PSU/Wisconsin at home? Two more great opportunities. It's time.

Eye of the Tiger

May 29th, 2018 at 6:38 PM ^

The 2014 class was just small, and that was a function of the 2012 and 2013 classes being large. The average score per recruit on the 247 composite was only slightly lower than in 2013 (89 vs 90). 

(The 2015 class was a different story, as it was a transition class.) 

Decatur Jack

May 29th, 2018 at 7:29 PM ^

We were favorites (or at least leaders) for Da'Shawn Hand and Malik McDowell before 2013. Then we go 7-6, losing to K-State in the bowl, and both those guys committed elsewhere. Let's not even get into the Laquon Treadwell fiasco.

If you think Michigan limping to 7-6 had nothing to do with it, you're kidding yourself. Maybe "imploding" is a bit much tbh, but at the time it sure as hell felt like it.

Eye of the Tiger

May 29th, 2018 at 10:51 PM ^

...and it's not even clear that record was the driving force in Hand's case. I seem to recall he wanted to major in engineering, and Michigan engineering is a very different beast than Alabama engineering. Hard to know exactly what the main reason was in any event--just saying it's not even clear that our record made the difference in this one isolated case.

By contrast, I don't think it played a significant role--at all--for McDowell or Treadwell.

In the end, we finished with a class that was almost identical to the preceding two in terms of per-player average rating. That doesn't even constitute a downturn, let alone an implosion.   


May 30th, 2018 at 11:11 AM ^

As someone that went to engineering school, can you elaborate on undergraduate engineering being a different beast at UM than Alabama?  I'm pretty sure the laws of thermodynamics are the same, as are fluid mechanics and just about everything related to physics.  I have no doubt that there are more outside opportunities at UM (ex: working on the solar car project/team), the facilities are better at UM and the graduate engineering programs are probably far more expansive and specialized.  I really don't think undergrad engineering is all that much different or more difficult from school to school.  I can also confirm having extremely accomplished PHD professors that have done industry leading research doesn't mean they can teach worth a shit.


May 29th, 2018 at 6:47 PM ^

The recruiting has a lot to do with the staff too. Last year we were coming off of an Orange Bowl and had 11 players drafted and recruiting still faltered before the season even started. The year before, we had a top 5 class with Tuioti and Gwen Bush helping us with various prospects. If recruiting falters again, it might be time to dump Dudek in favor of someone else. 


May 29th, 2018 at 8:41 PM ^

Define “falters.”

Are you basing that on where the recruiting sites have the kids ranked? Fact is, anyone paying attention can tell you that the recruiting sites are becoming increasingly lazy when it comes to their evaluation and ranking of prospects. It’s to the point where you can hardly trust their evaluations.

I mean ESPN rarely evaluated players. They tend to rank and forget. They’re widely considered the least efficient when it comes to their evaluation process.

Rivals doesn’t even send scouts to many of the top camps.

247 is probably the best, in part because of their incorporation of Scout and their composite rankings.

All three of the sites rely heavily on camp performances. Almost zero actual in-game scouting is done anymore. It’s almost entirely based off of how you look in a T-shirt and shorts and highlights. It’s downright lazy and assessing the state of recruiting based on recruiting rankings alone is just as lazy.

You can’t bash the staff if they’re getting top classes and ignore them finding phenomenal players like Khaleke Hudson that aren’t ranked high. Whether recruiting is faltering or not should be based on on field performance, not some arbitrary ranking before they ever make it to campus.

Hail Harbo

May 29th, 2018 at 9:22 PM ^

Well, there is something to be said about evaluating players at venues which includes their own ability peer level.  Take a 285 lb OL that is always playing against 200 lb DTs for instance.  Do you really learn much about the OG other than he can pankcake much smaller players?  Wouldn't seeing him perform along side other guards at camps give you a better reference?  Would seeing him lining up against an elite 275 lb DT give you a better idea of how he'll perform at the next level. 


May 30th, 2018 at 11:13 AM ^

At the same time, you’re still evaluating them based on what they do in T-shirt’s and shorts. You’re evaluating athleticism at that point. Football is much easier when you’re not wearing any equipment.

There’s also the issue of only being able to evaluate based on a handful of reps. You go to a camp with 100 other players and you’re not going to get many opportunities.

Then there’s the MAJOR issue of them only being able to evaluate the players who actually attend the camps. Michigan has recruited a handful of guys in recent years who didn’t attend any camps, and their recruiting rankings reflect that. It doesn’t mean they’re worse players, they just don’t go to camps and get the exposure. Take Jack Stewart in this class for example. He was ranked outside the top 1,000 when he committed. ESPN and Rivals didn’t even have a profile for the kid. 247 has zero scouting information. The kid had a dozen P5 offers. Take a wild guess who knows better?

Perkis-Size Me

May 29th, 2018 at 6:53 PM ^

Nothing said there is untrue.

This year is put up or shut up. Harbaugh has all the pieces he needs to win right now. An elite defense loaded with playmakers, a five star transfer QB who is eligible right now, arguably the best OL coach in America, an extremely talented group of receivers who can literally jump out of the stadium. And an actual coach for them, too. Everything that was a problem last season has been addressed.

Fuck the schedule and how “brutal” it’s supposed to be. The best teams go on the road and beat other great teams. They take care of business at home. They slaughter the teams they’re supposed to slaughter and win the big games. If Harbaugh finishes third or worse in the division again, he risks falling behind for good.

Perkis-Size Me

May 29th, 2018 at 7:53 PM ^

Would rather have great coaching and subpar talent than great talent and subpar talent. See Brady Hoke’s Michigan and Mark Dantonio’s MSU.

There is also plenty of raw talent on the OL. Onwenu, Bredeson, Ruiz, and Filagia just to name a few. It’s not an embarrassment of riches like you’d see at Alabama, but it’s more than enough for Warriner to work with and win football games with.

Gentleman Squirrels

May 29th, 2018 at 6:58 PM ^

I don't think this is true at all. Every other site is marking this year down as make it or break it kind of year, but Harbaugh has been tasked to change the entire culture of a program and he's been doing just that. Yeah it's taking longer than many of us expected but we're way better off now than we were during Hoke's or Rich Rod's regime. Recruiting will pick back up with better/younger recruiters on board and the defense under Brown will be top no matter what. If the offense picks up even remotely, we should win a couple more games than last year and that will help us get better pieces. It took Beilein 6 years to make a deep run. On football side of things, Clemson didn't get to consistently winning 10+ games every year until year 4 of Dabo and even then he had a knock of choking in big games until year 8. It's frustrating now, but more than anything I want Michigan to win to change this negative narrative around the program and start becoming a consistent threat to be in the playoffs.


May 29th, 2018 at 7:02 PM ^

The writer is correct that Harbaugh and this team have to prove themselves this year or else suffer recruiting set backs- especially after the Shea transfer. I am bullish though on the upcoming season despite the tough schedule. Ill be shocked if all the "tough" games on the schedule turn out to be so tough after all. Not knocking any of them specifically, but 1 or at least 2 will not live up to expectations this year whether through let down or injuries. If the offense gets it together, we will go into OSU battling for the conference title. And if this team surpasses expectations, I bet we have a VERY nice signing day.


May 29th, 2018 at 7:44 PM ^

Losses are always painful.  But the losses we've had under Harbaugh have been extruciating.  The muffed punt against Sparty, the refs making sure only OSU would win that game in Columbus, coming ALL the way back to take the lead against Florida State only to have them return the ensuing kickoff 60 something yards....O.K., I've thrown up in my mouth enough. 

We're not RichRod/Hoke dumpster fire anymore, thankfully.  But we're still not yet at the point where we're allowed to have jubilant happiness with wins over the teams you want to beat the most.  The kind of wins we had all the time when I was growing up.  God, I miss those. 

I'm hoping for the best.  I always hope for the best.  But I'm not yet at the point where I can expect it.  I'm really tired of the a*shole teams getting to have all the happiness.   

Hail Harbo

May 29th, 2018 at 9:40 PM ^

I'm reminded of 1997, both ND and Colorado were supposed to be tough nuts to crack.  Turns out Colorado had a losing season and Michigan's victory over ND completed the B1G trifecta against the Frightened Irish who would end the year just one win over .500.