This is your future under Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Communist Football on November 27th, 2010 at 10:38 PM

Tired Harbaugh defensive players faking injuries to slow down better teams:

Ranked, one- to three-loss teams losing decisively to mobile QBs under more sophisticated offenses:

We are all frustrated with our won-loss record under Rich Rodriguez. But if we can get the defense fixed, we have a shot to be the next Oregon instead of the next Stanford. Kudos to Harbaugh for doing so much at Stanford, with their admissions standards et al. - not trying to downplay that achievement. But it is far from clear that he would have that record if he was playing our schedule every year. I have spent a lifetime as a Michigan fan rooting for 9-3 and 8-4 and the occasional 10-2 teams that almost always lost when it counted the most.

I, for one, am willing to go through this difficult period in order to take our program to a level where we are consistently contending for MNC titles, rather than winning Big Ten titles and losing bowl games. I am not nostalgic for that era of consistent disappointment, and I dread consigning another generation of Michigan fans to the same fate.



November 28th, 2010 at 12:11 AM ^

Basically, I think Rich Rod gives us a better offense next year than Harbaugh could. I just don't think you go from what we have on that side of the ball to better by switching the coach. The bigger question is whether Harbaugh's defense would be better than Rich Rod's, assuming there is a massive restructuring of the defensive staff if RR stays. I think that question is 50-50, but YMMV.

As far as the NFL, my feeling is that Harbaugh isn't going to look at any college job, even Michigan, as a final destination without trying his hand in the NFL. But again, that's hard to tell.

I'm not that far off from you in opinion, I think. Essentially, I feel like there is a lot of uncertainty, and in the case of uncertainty, I think firing your 7-5 coach after only 3 years is the wrong move.


November 28th, 2010 at 12:13 AM ^

That's fair.  I'm ambivalent towards the entire thing, so my answers weren't trying to lead the conversation anywhere.

I can see next year's Rodriguez offense truly shining with points instead of just yards.  Brian's (and other's) defense of the offense with yards rather than results has been silly, but that doesn't mean the offense next year can't slam the ball in the endzone against good teams over and over again.  I'm fairly convinced that picking up a good to great DC will lead to 9/10 wins next year, so long as the offense improves in the red zone.

Fuzzy Dunlop

November 27th, 2010 at 11:50 PM ^

Of all the concerns you posted, the risk of Harbaugh fleeing for the NFL is one that really shouldn't be on there.

He can go to the NFL right now if he wants.  If he were to be offered, and choose, the Michigan job, it would be because it is his dream job, and he chooses it OVER the NFL.  There is no reason to think that he would change his mind in five years.


November 28th, 2010 at 12:10 AM ^

Maybe, maybe not. But I think chance of Harbaugh going to NFL >> chance of Rich Rod going to NFL. There are a lot of reasons that he'd stay in college ball this year but leave in the future - chief among them the contract uncertainty next year, and the possibility that the "right" job is not available in the NFL. I guess I just haven't seen a lot of evidence that "HC at Michigan" is Jim Harbaugh's dream job.

Double Nickel BG

November 28th, 2010 at 9:10 AM ^

way on RR right now. But I think all the pro-RR people do have a fair claim to the NFL with Harbaugh.

Just because he would take the Michigan job right now, what would stop him from taking a better one in 4-5 years? Then we are looking for a coach again.

No one knows what kind of pull the NFL has with Harbaugh, but it can be viewed as a honest concern.


November 28th, 2010 at 3:41 AM ^

Without Casteel specifically, or would another competent defensive coordinator suffice?  'Cause really that's all I feel like we need, but everyone's talking about replacing the head coach. I mean, if you think RR/Casteel was the perfect duo and they need each other, fine I guess.  But I think we'd all spend our discussion time a little better if we focused on potential defensive coordinators and not RR vs Harbaugh.  Whatever, I clicked the link.

turbo cool

November 28th, 2010 at 9:42 AM ^

Yeah, I know that sounds pretty idiotic. I'll explain. RR hasn't been given the full support here from alum, boosters, and even some of his players (!). I don't know why but that has been the case. And after three years, being 15-21, with only one bowl game to show for it and being winless vs both state and OSU, I doubt those same people who didn't want him here in the first place are now going to support him. We all know he is a great offensive guru and he won't forget that at the next school he's at. He won't be dealt the same set of cards (lack of upperclassmen, lack of alum support, possible ncaa sanctions, local media assassins, etc.).

So, yeah I can see him given more support initially at another school where they don't have the winningest program of all-time and except wins right away. He will probably be given some type of leniency out of the gate. At Michigan, he has been judged immediately and he hasn't won. That's a recipe fo disaster for any coach, especially at Michigan with our fans.


November 28th, 2010 at 10:04 AM ^

I absolutely agree.

I have never been as awed by RR as many UM fans, but I think he would be a very good coach at a non-AQ school or even a bad BCS conference team. The expectations would be much lower, thus he would be accorded more "slack" by the fanbase, alumns, donors and media.

To my way of thinking, RR's time at UM is the perfect example of the "Peter Principle"...a guy who was promoted to his level of incompetence. If he drops down to a lower level school (I think North Texas is looking for a coach, are they not?) he could be pretty successful; meaning he could win 8-9 games a year and that would be just fine for that team and its fans/donors.

Personally, I think it is silly the way some UM fans insist on having a "Michigan Man" as the HC and insist that UM play an "old-school" type of game, but it seems that the HC won't get full support of the big money people without being/doing just that. For better or worse, UM seems to be in a situation where only a very specific type of coach could be truly successful here.

UM Indy

November 27th, 2010 at 11:03 PM ^

I welcome the day when we're competing for Big Ten championships again. I don't give a goddamn who the coach is that brings us back to that place, but, with three years in the books, I'm fairly confident it won't be Rich.


November 27th, 2010 at 11:05 PM ^

Is a bit like pining for yester year, nostalgia, the past that never was. Remember when the Detroit Tigers (and their fans) thought Alan Trammell was The Answer to all their problems, and how that worked out? He was the sentimental favorite, and he even brought in guys like Gibson and Parrish to coach, and they had to fire him anyway.


November 27th, 2010 at 11:19 PM ^

Baseball is the ultimate players game. Football is the ultimate coaches game. 

My biggest concern is that when we bring in our Jim Leyland in the form of Harbaugh, we won't have the players.  Thanks to Rodriguez. (who is beginning to look more and more like our Luis Pujols).


November 28th, 2010 at 1:34 PM ^

1.  Trammel was completely untested as a manger at *any* level.  He was a promising coach but had never been the head guy anywhere.  Harbaugh has been the head guy, with some pretty impressive results at both stops.

2.  the Tigers under Trammel were primarily trying to get by with Triple A guys and other teams cast offs (with Pudge Rodriquez and an injured Magglio for flavoring).


November 27th, 2010 at 11:08 PM ^

football in the NCAA is full of pressure and focused on instant results.  Because of the massive $$$ coaches are being paid, it's show results or you're out, fair or not.


November 27th, 2010 at 11:09 PM ^

If I were in a joking mood, I could say: "And we are faking having a defense and a special teams, what's your point?"

But let's be serious.

Save the silly baseless attacks on Harbaugh's coaching ability. He is proven to be such a better coach than Rich Rodriguez the last few seasons, it is laughable to argue the point.

His record against Oregon? Come on. That is weak. He has as many wins against top 25 Pac Ten Teams as Rodriguez has total Big Ten Wins. In fact, he accomplished that in his first 3 seasons.

Rich has accomplished getting worse against our league's better teams. Today this high octane offense scored less at  Ohio State than the 2008 team. Three years in and we got nothing but hope and more promises about how things are gonna be good with more time.

This isn't Wyoming or Washington State. There is no more time for anything but tangible results.

Harbaugh delivers those starting with nothing. Everyone except people who choose to avoid the obvious, can see that.


November 27th, 2010 at 11:24 PM ^

I'm all for Rich staying and giving him a chance to get the defense squared away, but please don't argue that Harbaugh isn't doing much better with less.  He's crushed excellent USC teams with average Stanford squads.  Lloyd couldn't come within two touchdowns of them.  Face it, he can flat out coach and he does it with a power game.


November 27th, 2010 at 11:17 PM ^

I like RR and think he will get the team to the next level in 2 to 3 years. But i could see him getting canned for going 7-5 or 8-4 next season. If that is the case and we cannot wait then we might as well try for Harbaugh. I like both of these young coaches. I'd rather stick with RR for the long run. But if DB wants change, then I hope he can get Harbaugh.


November 27th, 2010 at 11:17 PM ^

Can we please stop using national titles as the criteria by which to determine whether you are rooting for a change or want RR to stay. We won a title in 97. That was our first in 50 years. We are not a powerhouse program that rolls of national titles left and right and we never have been. We need a coach who can consistently compete for big ten titles Whoever that is is who we need whether you think that is RR or Harbaugh but to say you don't want Harbaugh because that will condemn us to going 9-3 and 10-2 all the time but never 12-0 is just stupid. I don't know if you have been under a rock the last 3 years but i would kill for 9-3 right about now.

Communist Football

November 28th, 2010 at 12:16 AM ^

Everybody who yearns for 9-3 right about now: remember how you felt the last time Michigan went 9-3 (if you were a fan back then).

Fan happiness and unhappiness is completely subjective.  This community is going to implode with a decade of 9-3 seasons, I guarantee you that. Any of you who think differently is kidding yourself.


November 28th, 2010 at 12:39 AM ^

"This community is going to implode with a decade of 9-3 seasons, I guarantee you that."
<br>You've dodged the question every time it's been asked, so I'll do it one more time, because you're whole point is crap if you can't answer it - What makes you think Rich is any more likely to lead us to National Championships? Certainly nothing he's done here. All you've offered is "whoa, Oregon is good, man". It's fine you don't think Harbaugh can lead us to your precious titles...why can Rich?
<br>Oh, and the last 3 times we ended the season 9-3? We were Big Ten Champs and I loved it.

Communist Football

November 28th, 2010 at 1:50 AM ^

How much do you want to bet this board implodes after a decade of 9-3?  Remember what 9-3 specifically entails: either losses to bad teams (i.e., upsets) or losses to good teams (i.e., OSU).

As to your question, I think it's likelier because:

1. our offense is one of the most prolific in the history of the Big Ten

2. it is easier to improve our defense to average to above-average than to achieve what RR has achieved with the offense

That combo -- an all-time great offense with a middling defense -- will mean 10-2 and 11-1 records.  Combine that great offense with a great defense and we will have MNCs, which could happen once or twice a decade.


November 28th, 2010 at 2:14 AM ^

Would probably result in the site being amazed by the statistical significance of having the same record 10 years straight. Especially when you play 13 or 14 games. Which is what makes the statement stupid, because no one does that. Sure, it'll include some of those 8-4 years too...but also 10-2 years, and such. People get uneasy if they have the same stuff every year. But you're in a dream world if you think Rich is never going to go "9-3". Even if he succeeds.
<br>But your reasons are jacked up - 1. He doesn't even have the most prolific offense in the Big Ten THIS year, no more ever. And I bet that scoring offense (you know, the one that matters) took a pretty big hit today. 2. If it's so much easier to improve a defense, why does ours get worse every year? I mean, if the offense can get better, and it's do much easier for the defense to do so, why hasn't it happened? There may be good reasons...but it's obviously not a lot easier.
<br>Your whole premise is based on an offense we don't have, and a defense that is currently a pipe dream. You want just National Championship contention, and to get that you concede we need a pretty good one. But have nothing to offer on why you're sure that will happen with one coach, but not anyone else. Because this defense is not only a lot of years, but a lot of talent away from being great.
<br>The fact is no one knows if Harbaugh would be a great coach here. But no one knows if Rich will be a great coach here either. The only difference is we know Rich HASN'T been a great coach at Michigan, and Harbaugh is a complete unknown. And you claiming otherwise is silly.

Communist Football

November 28th, 2010 at 3:04 PM ^

Given the epic problems with our kicking game.  And if you are of the opinion that our offense has hit a ceiling, with a true sophomore at QB, I respectfully disagree. You then say:

The fact is no one knows if Harbaugh would be a great coach here. But no one knows if Rich will be a great coach here either. The only difference is we know Rich HASN'T been a great coach at Michigan, and Harbaugh is a complete unknown. And you claiming otherwise is silly. RR, because it's better to have a "complete unknown" as the head coach of Michigan?


November 28th, 2010 at 10:14 AM ^

Wasn't there a...wait for it...chart that showed that teams with great defenses and average offenses are much more likely to win MNC's than teams with great offenses and average defenses?

Btw, Stanford finished the regular season with the 12th ranked scoring defense in FBS (17.8 ppg) and the 8th ranked scoring offense (40.3 ppg). Oregon has the 15th ranked scoring defense 18.3 ppg) and the 1st ranked scoring offense (50.5 ppg) they are NOT just winning with a great offense.


November 27th, 2010 at 11:20 PM ^

Correct me if I'm wrong, but in the current BCS setup, if Michigan wins conference title they gain a BCS berth, no?

Therefore, gaining a BCS berth = competing for NC's.

In the old format, yes, Bo wanted to win the Big 10 and the Rose Bowl. 9-3 was not NC material. But gaining access into the BCS yearly (see tOSU) isn't a bad gig.


November 27th, 2010 at 11:24 PM ^

is that Harbugh would even come here? We are $14M deep into Rich. Granted it may be a sunk cost, but if the evaluation lasts until after the bowl period, the potential early enrollees, Dee Hart?, may not want to wait on who the next coach is and take their talents elsewhere. Jan 1st at the earliest is like a month until signing day, that seems like we would lose a lot of recruits that this staff has built relationships with and would be looking at a 2008 type of clap-trap class. No thanks. I'll cast my lot with the snake oil salesman in the wizard hat.


Harbaugh seems like he wants to compete against his brother in the NFL, not stay in college. 


November 27th, 2010 at 11:33 PM ^

I like Harbaugh as much as anyone else, although I think we have a better chance at being successful both next year and long term with RR. That is all I will say to preface the following:

Harbaugh has been incredibly successful at Stanford, and everyone keeps talking about how hard that is. Is it really? I think the Pac-10 is an incredibly weak conference, especially this year. In last week's BCS top 25, Oregon was 1, Stanford 6, and Arizona 21. That's it. USC and Oregon State were hanging out just on the outside of the top 25, WSU is turrible, and UCLA, Cal, UW and ASU are all middling teams. With the USC sanctions, the Pac-10 will probably have only 4 bowl teams this year (UO, Stanford, Arizona and Washington[!]). That Oregon and Stanford both basically skated through the conference shows me that it really isn't that good, and there is a big drop off between the top two and the rest.

One explanation that the Pac-10 isn't great is that USC's decade of dominance scared a lot of talent away from the conference. I don't have enough data to back that up, but I think it helps explain why UCLA and Cal especially have struggled. Now that USC is down, Oregon and Stanford are the first to take advantage of the lack of talent in the conference.

Compare that to the Big Ten, which currently has 3 teams in the top 10, plus Iowa, one of this year's most schizophrenic teams,* Illinois, PSU, us, and Northwestern, all more or less equal at 7-5, and 4-4 or 3-5 in conference. That there are 8 teams with 7 wins (assuming Illinois wins next week) shows we are a better conference, top to bottom.

What's my point? Well, I think Harbaugh's success has been a little overstated. Yes, he has done well, but I don't think he would have done as well over the past 3 seasons at Michigan. If he were truly a can't-miss coach, someone would have realized it sooner.

Remember the last Stanford coach to get promoted to an elite job? Ty Willingham at ND. I shouldn't have to say more.

*They a consistent top 25 team all year before imploding (or if you want the opposite argument, they were really not that good this year, played a soft early Big Ten schedule, had an unusually good game vs. MSU, and then regressed to the mean at the end of the year).


November 28th, 2010 at 12:20 AM ^

Which like, I had this question four years ago...what made the Big East good?  They didn't play an intimidating OOC schedule and their bowl record wasn't particularly frightening outside of WVU (and even they had letdowns).  How the fuck did South Florida climb to #2 four years ago?

Fuzzy Dunlop

November 28th, 2010 at 12:28 AM ^

I grew up in NJ, and thus root for Rutgers (after Michigan, of course), and watched a lot of Big East games back when the Big East was "better."

They were never that good.  It was smoke and mirrors, mediocre teams beating up on each other and not playing challenging out of conference schedules.


November 28th, 2010 at 12:51 AM ^

The Big East's downfall occurred in 2005, when Miami, VT and BC joined the ACC.  That is precisely when RR enjoyed his greatest success at WVU.  Prior to then he was regularly posting 8-5/9-4 seasons; after those three left, he suddenly started winning 10-11 games.


November 28th, 2010 at 12:02 AM ^

Thank you someone finally has brought up how weak the Pac 10 is.  Yes Harbaugh has accomplished alot with little  but its the freaking pac 10 just above the acc and big east.