Michigan Football: Unfair to call 2020 a ‘now or never’ year for Jim Harbaugh

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Believe it or not, Jim Harbaugh is entering his sixth year as Michigan football’s head coach.  But has the program already peaked under his thumb?

A five-year stay with one team is already considered an extended stay when you think of Jim Harbaugh’s past.  The worry throughout Michigan football fans becomes; have the Wolverines already peaked during Harbaugh’s duration as head coach?

When Michigan football hired Harbaugh, he was widely considered as one of the top coaches in the country at the professional or college level.  Harbaugh started his coaching career with Stanford, where a rebuild was necessary. During his four-year stay, Jim produced a 29-21 overall record.

Harbaugh became the beneficiary of landing star quarterback Andrew Luck, and that’s where the quarterback whisperer conversations regarding Jim began.  In Harbaugh’s final year, Stanford compiled a 12 win season en route to an Orange Bowl victory.  That would be the first of two Bowl wins for Harbaugh in a whopping seven tries thus far in his career.

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Harbaugh’s success with Stanford earned himself a professional job with the San Francisco 49ers, and there, similar to Stanford, he spent four years before wearing out his welcome.  He led the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance despite coming up just short against his brother John.

It was Harbaugh who solidified himself as the ‘quarterback whisperer’ during his time in San Francisco after opting to start Colin Kaepernick, who he’d handpicked to back up Alex Smith.  Kaepernick enjoyed tremendous success with Harbaugh’s guidance during that 2012 season that eventually ended in disappointment.  We’d probably appreciate Harbaugh quite a bit more if Frank Gore was able to stay in bounds after ripping off a long run on the team’s final drive.

During Jim’s tenor with the 49ers, he produced an overall record of 44-19-1 but seemed to butt heads with General Manager (GM) Trent Baalke.  Reports swirled that the two would share an elevator ride at the team facility and not exchange a single word.  Team owner Jed York tried to play the middle man but ended up siding with his GM, which proved to be the wrong choice.  Finally, Baalke was removed, and it appears York was able to right the ship with John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan.

In five years with the Wolverines, Harbaugh has produced a mediocre 47-18 overall record to go with an awful 1-4 bowl record.

After being hired, many Michigan football fans expected to be National Championship contenders by now, entering his six-year on the job.  Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case; in fact, the Wolverines have yet to beat their rival Ohio State Buckeyes under Harbaugh’s supervision.  Even Brady Hoke beat the Buckeyes during his tenor.

Will 2020 be the year Michigan football will finally prevail?  Unlikely.

With Ohio State’s quarterback Justin Fields as the odds on favorite to edge Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence as the Heisman Trophy winner entering the 2020 season, it’s shaping up to be another year of disappointment for the Wolverine faithful.

Michigan football will enter ’20 with no starting quarterback in place, basically an entirely new offensive line in place and plenty of new faces on defense.  Speaking of defense, Don Brown somehow is set to return as the Wolverines defensive coordinator.

Next. Somehow Don Brown remains on Harbaugh’s staff. dark

It’s challenging to say 2020 is now or never for Jim Harbaugh when you consider everything.  Perhaps now or never will come in 2021 after Justin Fields departs, and the Wolverines have an experienced O-line and returning quarterback, but then again, it’s always a ‘next man up’ mentality in Ohio.  A model, the Wolverines, quickly need to emulate.