Jim Harbaugh Isn't on the Hot Seat for Michigan

jim harbaugh michigan

Jim Harbaugh Isn't on the Hot Seat for Michigan

Football

Jim Harbaugh Isn't on the Hot Seat for Michigan

One game doesn’t define a season. It certainly doesn’t mean a coach is on the hot seat as well.

After the 24-17 loss to Notre Dame last week, head coach Jim Harbaugh is getting some second looks from everyone. While a majority are fans, there are some analysts that believe 2018 is a do or die year for Harbaugh and starting out 0-1 isn’t pretty.

While it is never fun or much of a confidence booster to lose the opening game, it suddenly doesn’t devalue Harbaugh overall as a head coach.

With Rich Rodriguez as head coach, Michigan went 15-22, appeared in just one bowl game and lost in it. Rodriguez never beat a ranked team, Michigan State, or Ohio State and his teams would lose by an average of 16 points. Rodriguez’s recruiting classes weren’t too bad either, getting 11 in 2008, 10 in 2009, and 17 in 2011.

Brady Hoke came in 2011 and things were supposed to get better, and while they did for a small window, they went back to their old ways fast. Hoke finished with a 31-20 coaching record, winning the Sugar Bowl his first year in 2011, but only beating Ohio State and Michigan State once and his teams would lose by an average of 12 points and was 3-10 against ranked teams. Hoke would have his success in recruiting in the middle, starting with a ranking of 30 in 2011, before jumping to six in 2012, four in 2013, then 20 in 2014.

Jim Harbaugh was looked at as the savior for Michigan in 2015 when he accepted the head coaching position. While his record isn’t far from Hoke’s and his struggle against rivals is close to the same, it is still too early to call it quits yet. So far, Harbaugh is 28-12 as head coach, winning the Citrus Bowl his first year before losing in the Orange Bowl in 2016 and Outback Bowl in 2017. Harbaugh has taken Michigan to a bowl game in all three of his seasons so far, something Hoke and Rodriguez couldn’t do.

Harbaugh is only 1-2 against MSU and 0-3 against OSU, but his losses aren’t as bad as the previous two coaches. Harbaugh’s team loses by an average of nine points, his record against ranked opponents is 5-8, and recruiting-wise, Harbaugh has brought in a 37th-ranked class in 2015, eighth in 2016, fifth in 2017, and 22nd in 2018.

It isn’t fair to judge the first year of recruiting on these coaches as they don’t have much time to focus on those players and look for other ones, though Harbaugh — according to the recruiting services’ final rankings — has been just beneath Hoke when it comes to recruiting, but better than Rodriguez.

While Harbaugh does need to start winning games against his rivals and against ranked opponents, things could be a lot worse for the Wolverines. Rodriguez’s teams never had the skill players to win them games, but their offensive lines were impressive. Hoke’s teams had Denard Robinson and Devin Gardner at quarterback, had some good options at wide receiver and running back, but were inconsistent offensively after Robinson departed.

Harbaugh’s teams have had solid running back corps, wide receivers, quarterbacks that can get the job most of the time, and a great defense, with the major weakness being the offensive line. With the hiring of offensive line coach Ed Warinner, Harbaugh is actively trying to fix the problem that keeps occurring. While it wasn’t a great start to that against Notre Dame, give this coach some time to see what his players can do and adjust for the rest of the season.

Harbaugh won’t be getting fired unless Michigan goes 0-12 in 2018, and we all know that won’t be happening. While he certainly deserves some criticism and looks at, if he can take down MSU and/or OSU and put this team in Big Ten Championship  — and yes, National Championship — contention, he won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

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