Jim Harbaugh was anointed as the savior of Michigan football when he was hired as head coach in 2015, but the Wolverines’ 14-10 loss at home to Michigan State on Saturday took a little more shine off his so far three-year tenure.
While the loss to the Spartans was the first of the season for the now 4-1 Wolverines, they’ve been offensively-challenged all season, a notion not helped by some dubious play-calling Saturday.
Michigan finished last season by losing three of its last four games, but more painful to Wolverines fans is that Harbaugh’s success against the school's biggest rivals has been scarce. The Wolverines are now 1-4 against Michigan State and Ohio State under Harbaugh, and the Michigan faithful are starting to get restless.
Sunday, the morning after the loss to Michigan State, mlive.com aggregated some of the frustration expressed by fans under an article headlined, “Is Jim Harbaugh a good fit at Michigan?”.
Here’s a sampling:
I don’t care what Michigan fans say.. say what you want. It’s year 3, it’s college football.. expectations are high.. let down. Embarrassed.
— Ryan Ermanni (@RyanEFox2) October 8, 2017
Harbaugh and staff continue to be outcoached in the biggest games. No more excuses.
— Lake Shore Track (@ShorianCCTrack) October 8, 2017
— Michigan Football (@UMichFootball) October 8, 2017
Hoke and Harbaugh's records at UM after 31 games are almost identical. Except Hoke was 2-2 against MSU & OSU, and Harbaugh is 1-4.
— Jerry Marshall (@jmarsh34) October 8, 2017
And this isn’t necessarily just the sentiment of overzealous college football fans; plenty of voices among the national sports media are casting doubts upon Harbaugh, too.
Spectacular win for MSU.
As for Michigan, Harbs' development of QBs and record vs rivals leaves a bit to be desired.
— Teddy Greenstein (@TeddyGreenstein) October 8, 2017
Strong argument Jim Harbaugh is most overrated coach in college football. Hasn't finished better than third in Big Ten East yet.
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) October 8, 2017
Also, ESPN college football analyst Paul Finebaum hypothesized Harbaugh may not be long for Ann Arbor should the team not start winning big games.
"First of all, he has to develop an offensive philosophy that’s going to work in this league," Finebaum said Sunday on SportsCenter, via 247 Sports. "But what happens now? Where does Jim Harbaugh go for these big wins? Next year, he’s down to his fourth year.
"No one’s running Harbaugh off since he’s one of the three or four best coaches in the country, but I think he will implode at the frustration of not winning these games and start listening to NFL offers."
The going doesn’t get easier for Michigan, which will have to play the rest of the season without starting quarterback Wilton Speight. The Wolverines should be able to handle Indiana at Bloomington next week, but they visit No. 4 Penn State the Saturday after that, and their regular season ends with games at No . 9 Wisconsin and home vs. No. 10 Ohio State.
While it’s too early to jettison Harbaugh, the growls from annoyed fans will only get louder until a big win or two quiets them down.