Michigan football head coach Jim Harbaugh gets a lot of heat from rival fanbases. Here’s why it’s unwarranted.
Rebutting the 7 Dumbest Arguments Against Jim Harbaugh
Rival fans have some real dumb arguments when it comes to Michigan football.
Every time you turn around, some MSU or OSU fan is taking to social media to rip Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh. Heck — it’s not even rival fanbases. It’s Paul Finebaum, it’s general SEC fan, it’s fervent NFL fan or media member that still can’t believe he spurned the shield for his alma mater.
Now, every fan base has its set of looney tunes — that’s for sure. But it’s like some kind of Harbaugh derangement syndrome takes over the moment a Block M comes into vision for many non-Wolverines fans.
For years, we’ve kept hearing the same stupid arguments, over and over and over again. Is there some truth to some of them? Sure, there is. We’re not refuting that. But, oftentimes, you see these arguments thrown out as law, when either there’s obvious change on the horizon or the view the insulting party is purveying is myopic, at best.
So, let’s take a look at the 7 dumbest arguments, and why you shouldn’t pay any mind to any of them.
Harbaugh has never finished better than third in the division.
This is the argument we’ve been hearing most often as of late. It’s technically true — of his tenure in the Big Ten. Better stated: Harbaugh has never coached Michigan to better than third in the Big Ten.
But there’s several reasons why this is obviously, and patently used with intent to deceive (see what we did there?).
Rival fans use this argument to insinuate that Jim Harbaugh isn’t worth his salt as a coach. However, he has a long track record of proving just the opposite. At San Diego, he took the Toreros from 7-5 to two consecutive Pioneer Football League titles. At Stanford, he inherited a one-win football team and in four years had them playing in a BCS-level bowl, with only one loss on the season. In 2009 and 2010, the Cardinal were PAC-10 runners-up.
Then, in 2011, he took the San Francisco 49ers job, turning around a franchise that had been mired in struggle and mediocrity since 2003. The Niners hadn’t been to the playoffs since 2002, and they went to three straight NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl under Harbaugh’s leadership. Since? Woefully missed the playoffs all three years.
At Michigan, it’s correct — he hasn’t finished better than third. But, in his first year in Ann Arbor, pundits screamed that getting that team bowl eligible — after a 5-7 season in 2014 — would be witchcraft, yet, that team won 10 games. The next year, Michigan had the look of one of the four best teams in the country, but a controversial OT loss at Ohio State, who was ranked one spot ahead of the Wolverines as it were, kept the maize and blue from getting any better than third in the division, due to OSU’s loss to Penn State. Last season, with all the personnel losses both before and during the season, it’s no wonder Michigan finished fourth in the division. Losing ten starters on defense and eight on offense before you even take a snap — and then being on your third string quarterback — it’s a little difficult to really establish dominance.
This third in the division malarkey is all just nonsense. If it’s an Ohio State fan razzing you, then — well — probably not much you can say, since Urban Meyer has owned the conference since arriving in 2012. But Michigan State’s Mark Dantonio didn’t fare any better until his fourth season, when the Spartans tied for the conference title in 2010.
It takes time to build a program, especially one like Michigan’s, which was on a steady decline in nearly every facet before Harbaugh took over.
Harbaugh has never won anything.
I guess NFC Championships don’t count for the discerning fanbases of the Big Ten East, right?
At Michigan, as a coach, sure, Harbaugh hasn’t won the conference — and he was only expected to maybe do so in year two, when the Wolverines were a foot away from literally doing just that (well, the division, not the conference). Otherwise, before he took the reins prior to the 2015 season, most knowledgable fans took a look at the schedule and the roster and asserted that anything you got positive in year one was gravy, year two was the shot, year three was a rebuild, and we’d see what happened in year four, with it also being a chance to win it all. Considering the trajectory of Michigan football, with only one double-digit win season coming in the 8 years before Harbaugh arrived, starting off his tenure with two back-to-back is nothing short of impressive.
Again, it’s selective memory by rival fans. He won two back-to-back Pioneer League Championships in his three years in San Diego; he won the Orange Bowl with Stanford — heckuva feat as the Cardinal had one win four years prior; he won AP Coach of the Year in his first year with the 49ers, after that team lost to the NY Giants in OT of the 2011 NFC Championship Game; he wont the NFC West in his first two years at the helm, and came in second in 2013, losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks; he won the NFC Championship in 2012.
No, none of this is the big prize, and he never won his conference in FBS-level college football. But what he’s done across all levels is more than enough evidence that he knows what he’s doing.