Michigan Football fell to 4-1 (1-1) on Saturday night with a frustrating loss to Michigan State. The loss has caused many fans to push the panic button and wonder what’s going on. However, a look at other top tier coaches shows that Harbaugh is, if anything, ahead of schedule in his rebuild process.
If you remember, Michigan wasn’t in a great place before Harbaugh became head coach. They finished the 2015 season with a 5-7 record, recruiting had unraveled and they were literally trying to give away tickets to football games.
Swinney took over at Clemson in the middle of the 2008 season and produced the following records in his first three seasons;
Swinney was 1-2 against Florida State in his first three seasons. In his fourth season at Clemson, Swinney and the Tigers were 10-4.
Dantonio took over at Michigan State prior to the 2007 season. His first three seasons with the Spartans produced the following records;
In Dantonio’s first three seasons at Michigan State, the Spartans went 2-1 against Notre Dame, 2-1 against Michigan and 0-2 against Ohio State. He has dominated the series against Michigan during his tenure at MSU, posting an impressive 8-3 record. In his fourth season at Michigan State, Dantonio led the Spartans to an 11-2 record.
Harbaugh took over at Michigan prior to the 2015 season. Harbaugh is in the middle of his third season at Michigan, but his record as the Wolverines head coach is;
Where Harbaugh has struggled, and suffered four of his seven losses at Michigan, is against the Wolverines’ rivals. Michigan is 1-2 against Michigan State, under Harbaugh. They are 0-2 against Ohio State. Sure three of those losses have come in agonizing fashion, but the bottom line is Michigan lost the games.
“I’m well aware of what the record is,” Harbaugh said on Monday. “Against MSU and OSU we’re 1-4. The record against all other opponents is 23-3. We know what the records are. We want to win those games. We want to win every game we’re playing. We want to win them all. Most importantly, we want to win this one, our next game.”
Michigan has a championship level defense this year and for the foreseeable future as well. The problem has been on offense. First and foremost the offensive line is a mess. Recruiting setbacks, that pre-date Harbaugh’s arrival, have created a lack of talent and depth, as well as a lack of competition. Next year should see a much deeper group, but will they be more fundamentally sound?
The other issue has been quarterback play. Jake Rudock was a revelation in Harbaugh’s first season. Wilton Speight started off red-hot last year, then he got hurt and fizzled out. This year has been a combination of Speight and John O’Korn, which has resulted in six interceptions against just four touchdown passes.
Michigan’s quarterback room will be in great shape next year with Brandon Peters, Dylan McCaffrey, Joe Milton and Kevin Doyle. Speight is eligible for a fifth year, but whether or not that is something both sides pursue remains to be seen.
Building a cathedral
Most reasonable people expect a rebuild to take three or four years. You have to allow a coach to fill a roster with their recruits and establish their system. At his introductory press conference, Harbaugh talked about his various coaching stops and said it would be nice to build a cathedral. The cathedral he was referring to is Michigan Football.
Yes there have been roadblocks and barricades on the way to building that cathedral. However, you can see the foundation has already been poured and construction is proceeding full steam ahead.
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