Jim Harbaugh was dead to rights. And then he turned it around. Many people believe that the 2020 Covid year was an anomaly. And in many ways, it was. Outside of the elite programs, there were a lot of bizarre circumstances. I mean, come on, Indiana was a powerhouse. But it was the moment in which many people believed Jim Harbaugh had officially failed at Michigan.
They couldn’t beat Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State, or anybody. They couldn’t win big games on the road. They couldn’t win as an underdog. They held onto their coordinators for too long, and they were stubborn as hell. Michigan’s AD Warde Manuel gave him an extension after the 2020 season, and collectively the fan base believed that expectations were officially about to be lowered. The possibility of Michigan football ever becoming an elite program again was no longer. Then… Magic.
I take it all back. I take back my criticism, I take back my frustration, and while I still maintain that my anger towards those first 6+ years of the Jim Harbaugh era was justified in the moment, he has proved the college football world wrong many times over. Yesterday was, in the history of my sports fandom, the single most outstanding performance I’ve ever seen by a sports team. Jesse Minter’s defense pitched a perfect game. Offensively, Michigan, without their best player in Blake Corum, dropped 45 points on Ohio State and beat them in the Horseshoe for the first time since 2000. It was the worst loss that Ohio State has had at home since 1999, and Michigan did it as an underdog.
It’s hard to accurately describe the hype surrounding Jim Harbaugh when Michigan hired him in December 2014, and it’s even harder to express the disappointment. That so many Michigan fans felt after he continually came up short in his first six seasons. I wish I could tell you what happened. I have some ideas. The leadership was better. The coordinator hires have been unbelievable. But it goes beyond that. It was a disaster, and it has become a triumph.
People like to say that sometimes success takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. But Jim Harbaugh was given time, and I gave up on him. I gave up on believing that Michigan football would ever be elite again. You can hate him, you can vilify him, you can think he’s a knucklehead, but you can’t ignore him, and now, officially, you can’t deny the success. This is what he was brought here to do. He beat Ohio State and then went out and did it again. See you in Indy. Go blue!