Jim Harbaugh was supposed to be the “savior” of Michigan football.
After successful stints with the University of San Diego, Stanford and then the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL, Harbaugh was expected to save Michigan from the Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke years. He brought on experience, publicity, his own brand of zaniness and most importantly, he was a “Michigan Man”.
Now in his third season, Harbaugh is 25-8 so far with the Wolverines. And sure, objectively that’s a pretty good record and Michigan has ceratinly been relevant, but Big Blue has far from met the expectations in Ann Arbor.
Notably, Harbaugh is 0-2 against Ohio State and seems to be on the way towards 0-3 this season. The Wolverines are 1-2 against in-state rival Michigan State and Harbaugh has yet to get his team into the Big Ten title game, let alone the College Football Playoffs.
Michigan has played small in big games (see this last weekend’s loss to No. 2 Penn State) and played down to inferior competition (see the loss at Iowa last season).
Still, Harbaugh is paid a ton of money and he’s hyped up more than just about any coach in college football sans Nick Saban and Urban Meyer.
The hype may be too much, though, according to ESPN college football analyst Paul Finebaum. Here’s what he had to say recently, speaking on ESPN’s First Take:
“Michigan is playing Rutgers, which has been a total joke since they entered the Big Ten, and guess what, fourth place is at stake,” Finebaum said on First Take. “That’s not what Michigan is paying nearly $11 million dollars a year for, that’s not what we’re sending reporters to The Vatican to cover Jim Harbaugh meeting the Pope. This has been a big disappointment. I don’t want to call it an abject failure yet because he still has a chance, they take on Ohio State at the end of the season in Ann Arbor, but I can tell you right now, they’re not winning that game.”
Finebaum is an outspoken and unabashed critic so his stance may be a bit harsh, but it’s notable because it’s not untrue.
Harbaugh isn’t a failure (yet), but he’s certainly not earning his $11 million a year in Ann Arbor.