Is Jim Harbaugh Overrated?

Personally, I love Jim Harbaugh. I think he’s a great coach. I’ve watched what he did at Stanford. I’ve watched what he did as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, taking them from the basement to the Super Bowl in two years. I’ve seen what he’s done in only two years at Michigan.

In the seven years before Harbaugh arrived in Ann Arbor the Wolverines were a combine 48-42. If you take away the lone bright spot of being 11-2 in 2011 under Brady Hoke they were much worse than that.

Harbaugh went 10-3 in his first two years as the head of the Michigan football program. He’s off to a 5-1 start this year. Even with that 5-1 start a question is starting to hang over Harbaugh’s head. Is he overrated?

Jim Harbaugh makes seven million dollars a year making him the second highest paid coach in college football only behind Nick Saban. He hasn’t shown the ability to recruit a quarterback yet. Something Harbaugh is supposed to be a guru of. He made his name at Stanford with Andrew Luck and with San Francisco with both Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick.

Most importantly he hasn’t shown the ability to beat his rivals. Harbaugh is 1-4 versus Michigan St and Ohio St since arriving in Ann Arbor. You can be successful, you can win games but if you are the head coach of the University of Michigan you must beat Michigan St and Ohio St. You are never going to win the Big 10 Championship and play for National Championships if you can’t.

The emergence of the James Franklin led Penn St has created another problem for Harbaugh and Michigan also.  This Saturday Michigan plays Penn St in Happy Valley.  On paper and factoring in the way Penn St is playing it looks like an ass-whipping is in the cards for the Wolverines.

That loss would make Harbaugh 1-5 against rival schools. If he loses to Urban Meyer again in November that would make him 1-7.  Winning games that don’t matter is great. Getting sponsorships with Jumpman and Michael Jordan is great. Those things don’t matter as much as beating Ohio St. They don’t matter as much as beating Michigan St.

Jim Harbaugh is going to have to find a way to start beating his rivals. He’s got to find a way to start winning big games. If he doesn’t he might find his way out of Ann Arbor a lot sooner than he’s planned.

If Jim can’t win a couple of big games this year I’m not going to say his seat will be “Hot” in 2018. I will say it’s probably going to start warming though. He’s going to have to find a way to win and win big soon or he might be onto another job.

So, the question was is Jim Harbaugh overrated? I’m not willing to say yes, but I’m starting to wonder.

written by Blake Mitchamore  (@blakemitchamore)

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