In case you have been living under a rock for the past few months, you can’t turn on a TV, or check a twitter feed without some reference to Jim Harbaugh, who led Michigan to a 10-3 record in his first season. For powerhouses like Ohio State and Alabama, a 10-3 record would be considered a bad year by the fans, but many fans from Ann Arbor and media personalities are treating Harbaugh like he is the second coming of Christ. In fact, ever since January 11 when Alabama won the second College Football Playoff National Championship, Harbaugh has stolen the spotlight.
Michigan has not been a power since the turn of the 21st century, and their lone glimmer of greatness was an 11-2 season under Brady Hoke when they won the Sugar Bowl. Ohio State has beaten Michigan 13 out of the 15 games played so far, and Michigan State has won 7 out of the last 8. They are also only a year removed from giving away game tickets with Coke purchases. After years of struggling to find an identity under Rich Rodriquez and Brady Hoke, Michigan found a way to bring their alum to coach their team. Harbaugh, for better or for worse, has shaken up the program, and it appears to be on the rise.
We knew he was a bit of an odd-ball when he was hired just over a year ago. His responses in interviews left many scratching their heads than walking away with answers and his antics from his dismissal from San Francisco has followed him. Once the 2015 season ended, Harbaugh was hot on the recruiting trail, finding the loopholes for many of the NCAA guidelines, such as staying the night at a recruit’s house by arriving there at 12am, or climbing trees, and saving cats. I am sure there are several more stories that have not surfaced, but whatever he is doing, he is getting attention, and as painful as it is for me to say, he knows how to play the game, and he is winning. Not only did he sign a top 10 recruiting class, but he also signed the top overall recruit, Rashan Gary, and recruits all over the nation are ensnared by his tactics. He even held spring practices in Florida at the IMG Academy, a high school powerhouse and hotbed for top recruits, an act which caused several SEC coaches to attack him.
As an Ohio State fan, it has been amusing to watch all of this happen. While at times I just shake my head at Harbaugh and his antics, while other times I tip my hat at his creativity such as the Spring Camp in Florida. As a college student, who wouldn’t want to go to a nice destination for free? Yes you will have to work out and everything, but the reward would be worth it. I think one thing this has done is bring more interest to “The Game.” I am not old enough to have lived through the “Ten Year War,” but my passion for Ohio State and the Rivalry has been passed down from my grandfather and father, and I have seen some great games between the two schools. I also enjoy the fact we have been winning recently, but with the downfall of Michigan, there has be some elements of “The Game” that don’t have as much luster as it did. I think Harbaugh being there now though adds to is. In fact, Gene Smith (even though he apologized for his comments) and Harbaugh had a little feud rise between them, which caused a reaction from both football camps. I like that. It is March, and football season is still far away, and these appetizers are just making the anticipation for the season build even more.
While Harbaugh has made the college football world watch his every move, we need to remember the games are played on the field. I say let Harbaugh do his thing. He has yet to win a National Championship, and we have a coach that has won three. Harbaugh is making Michigan relevant again which is good for “The Game” and the Big Ten, but as of now, we are still 1-0 against him. Round 2 is November 26, 2016 at the Shoe. Until then, 42-13.