On Wednesday, CBS Sports released their Top 25 coaches in the Power five conferences. In the rankings, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh landed at number 18.
One of the staff members who voted on the rankings was Barton Simmons from CBS Sports. Simmons defended Harbaugh in a 247Sports podcast, saying:
If we did a poll in 2015, Harbaugh is probably top 5. He takes a 5-7 team to 10-3 in 2015. They’re 10-3 in 2016. Yeah, I know they’re 0-2 against Ohio State in those two years, but those are close games, and in 2016 they’re a first down measurement away from winning that game. And you can say it’s all about wins and losses, but let’s be real. That doesn’t mean that Urban Meyer is this decisively better coach than him because they missed the measurement or because J.T. Barrett fell forward a half an inch. So, that was a successful season, or a close season. They finished top 10 in the country. The following year — after losing 11 players in the NFL Draft, which is the most Michigan has ever produced — they go 8-5. People forget Michigan wasn’t supposed to be good last year. People at that point were still so enamored by Harbaugh that they thought he could work that miracle and maybe make them good with a really young talented team, but objectively they weren’t supposed to be that good. So, I’m going to give him an 8-5 pass. It’s not like he went 3-9 like at Michigan State.
Simmons makes some good points. While last season was disappointing, the two 10-win seasons before that were successful seasons, for Harbaugh. In year one, Harbaugh put Michigan back on the map. And in year two, he had them in the mix for a big ten title and a spot in the College Football Playoff.
Being 1-5 against Michigan State and Ohio State is something that must be improved upon, and Harbaugh knows that. Nobody is denying that Michigan needs to start winning big games.
But some fans act like Harbaugh’s tenure has been a failure, and that couldn’t be further from the truth. He is still 28-11 as Michigan’s head coach.
Going into this season, Michigan is capable of competing for a Big Ten title and a spot in the Playoff, but it won’t be easy. Michigan opens the season against Notre Dame week one, and have other games at MSU, home against Penn State and Wisconsin, and at Ohio State.
If Harbaugh and the Wolverines can deliver this season, it will put all of the doubters to rest.