Big Blue Is Black And Blue
The “Michigan Man” came back to restore the program to national prominence – and beat Ohio State – and so far, he has done neither.
In fact, one might argue that Michigan football is as low as it was under Rich Rod and not be far off the mark.
Certainly that appears to be the case after Big Blue came out black and blue after being pummeled by Wisconsin 35-14. Michigan football simply does not get down 35-0. It does not go 0-for-11 on third downs.
Jim Harbaugh was supposed to be the answer – the savior – to the football team’s decades-plus mediocrity but so far he’s proven to be only a slight improvement over Brady Hoke (41-14 record to 51-31).
Michigan is 2-1 but let’s face it, Big Blue would have lost to Army had the Cadets’ fullback not fumbled on the goal line late in the third quarter of that game. It would have put the game out of reach and the Big House would have emptied out as if the Wolverines were losing to OSU.
Against Wisconsin, the Wolverines did not even put up a fight. The Badgers continually badgered them with simple runs up the middle. And whenever UM did manage to clog up the middle, Jonathan Taylor simply ran to the outside; it was as if the Michigan defenders had never considered this an option.
Taylor, by the way, ran for 203 yards.
It seemed as if Michigan simply did not care. The Wolverines certainly did not play with any fire, intensity or toughness, and that has been a Harbaugh coaching trademark. Even Harbaugh seems to have lost interest; instead of being fired up at the disappointing performance he seemed mellow, doing his version of “well it is what it is” routine.
Why is this the case and how is it happening at his alma mater? He came in with a lot of bravado and made comments jabbing at the SEC as if ready to pick a fight. That’s the Harbaugh way. But when is the last time you heard anything controversial coming out of him?
Why is Michigan’s offense so bad? Harbaugh has been in Ann Arbor since 2015 and the best quarterback he can find is a mistake-plagued transfer from Ole Miss. He is unable to force his will offensively and his decision to bring in a spread attack has been a disaster.
All this begs two questions: Can Jim Harbaugh save Michigan football. And, considering his successful past, why not?
Perhaps only Harbaugh himself can answer those questions. If he doesn’t, only a miraculous upset over Ohio State at the end of the season can keep restless Big Blue alumni from starting to growl for a replacement.