Jim Harbaugh has been good for Michigan. In fact, he’s been great for Michigan. This is not even a discussion.
But how many years can Michigan go without making the College Football Playoff before Harbaugh goes from being awesome and hilarious to being obnoxious and annoying and turning people off?
“That’s a great question. I think that’s the question going into this season,” CBS Sports college football columnist Dennis Dodd said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “Michigan is going to be very good this year. I don’t know if they’ll win the Big Ten. Some people think they’ll be in the College Football Playoff. But I wrote that a couple weeks ago at Big Ten Media Days: After you get past the cartoon that is Jim Harbaugh – and he’s very entertaining, he’s very smart, a very good coach – sooner or later, he’s going to have to beat Michigan State and Ohio State. And he went 0-2 against them last year.”
Indeed, Michigan lost on the final play against Michigan State – you’ve probably seen the botched-punt replay, oh, two dozen times by now – and lost, 42-13, to Ohio State. The Wolverines responded by obliterating Florida, 41-7, in the Citrus Bowl, but make no mistake: Harbaugh was hired to beat Michigan State, which Michigan has done just once in the last eight years, and to beat Ohio State, which Michigan has done just once in the last 12 years.
“Granted, in the first season with a roster that had no business winning 10 games, he did a great job,” Dodd said. “But he’s going to soon be held to the same standard that Fielding Yost all the way to Brady Hoke has been held to: to win championships.”
As good a coach as Harbaugh has been, that’s something he’s never done. Keep in mind that he left both Stanford and San Francisco after four years.
“His shelf life at any given place is about four years,” Dodd said. “His act wears thin about four years in. I just don’t see him as a lifer at Michigan. I may be wrong. But sooner or later, he’s going to have to start beating those teams. Specific to this year, Michigan has to go to Michigan State, to Ohio State and to Iowa. So anyone thinking they’re going to win the Big Ten or get to the playoff, that’s three pretty big acts to do on the road.”