Tell me if this sounds familiar. The Michigan Wolverines lose against a top team on a big stage.
Michigan finished its disappointing 2017 campaign with a choke job against South Carolina in the Outback Bowl on New Year’s Day. (Sidenote: If you didn’t hear, everyone gets free bloomin onion at Outback Steakhouse).
Losing has unfortunately become all too familiar to Michigan fans this year, dropping every game against ranked opponents and finishing the season 8-5 (including bowl loss). Bringing into question whether Jim Harbaugh is indeed the man to bring the Wolverines back to prominence and prestige.
For those that feel the previous sentence was dramatic and unwarranted, let me frame it to you this way. At the same juncture of their coaching careers for the maize and blue, Brady Hoke accumulated 26 wins with three bowl game appearances (1 NY6 appearance), while Harbaugh has put together 28 wins with the same number of bowl entries (1 NY6 appearance). Each coach collected just one win in their bowl appearances.
When looking at the statistics, it no longer seems like an overreaction.
It didn’t take long for members of the national media to dog pile on the fresh wounds.
Harbaugh is the most overrated coach in football. No creativity after a month of practice.
— Cris Carter (@criscarter80) January 1, 2018
From a 19-3 lead in the 3rd quarter to a 26-19 loss … a brutal end to 2017 for Michigan. That sets up what I’ll call a “fascinating” 2018 for Jim Harbaugh and Co. Wonder if there will be an exotic spring break trip this year?
— Tom Dienhart (@BTNTomDienhart) January 1, 2018
Needless to say Jim Harbaugh did not earn his $7 million this season. That was a bad loss to end a uninspiring season.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) January 1, 2018
It has been 11 years since Michigan has collected a road win against a top-25 AP poll opponent. You have to go back to 2006 in South Bend to find an away game worth writing home about. Since that day, Michigan has lost 15 consecutive ranked road battles. While not completely indicative of ability, Michigan cannot expect to compete in a college playoff anytime soon if it can’t hit the road and come back with a win.
While it is easy to complain about the seemingly consistent doom and gloom, Michigan’s recruiting is a bright spot in regards to its incoming class. Harbaugh has put together a group riddled with upside, landing five of ESPN’s top-300 recruits. Desperate for consistent quarterback play, the largest potential impact will come from Florida native, Joe Milton. Should Michigan reap all that Milton has to offer, we could be talking about Big Ten Championships in the near future instead of coconut shrimp and fried onion.
(Main photo credit: Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)