Michigan Football: Joe Milton is the latest Jim Harbaugh disappointment

(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

The Michigan football quarterback room just took a significant blow.  Quarterback Joe Milton has elected to enter the often used NCAA transfer portal leaving us with plenty to question about the current state of the program.

We’re only a year removed from the Joe Milton for Heisman chatter.  Things change quickly, don’t they?

Milton started the first handful of games last season for Michigan football before giving way to Cade McNamara, and now he’s looking for a new home.  It’s yet another blemish on head coach Jim Harbaugh‘s resume.

Once considered a quarterback whisperer after seeing tremendous success working with Andrew Luck at Stanford, followed by Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick at the professional level, Harbaugh has yet to replicate that during his tenure with the Michigan Wolverines.

Joe Milton entering the transfer portal raises an abundance of questions for Michigan football and Jim Harbaugh.

I’m starting to wonder if Harbaugh had ever been a quarterback whisperer, or was it simply the quarterback’s talent level making the head coach look like a genius?  Luck was a dominating athlete and deemed a ‘can’t miss’ prospect.

After a slow start at the NFL level, mostly due to a lackluster supporting cast, Luck took an absolute pounding early on his in his career, which eventually led to his early retirement.  His overall talent was never in question.

Alex Smith was off to a slow start after being selected first overall by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2005 NFL Draft.  Smith produced a 19-31 record, making 50 starts and appearing in 54 games for the 49ers before the organization hired Harbaugh before the 2011 season.

In his first year as the head coach, Harbaugh inherited a 6-10 49ers team and went 13-3 with Smith under center.  Smith’s success kind of goes in Harbaugh’s favor knowing how inconsistent he’d been before his arrival.

Although Kaepernick wasn’t an elite quarterback, he was certainly a magnificent athlete and created a profusion of problems for opposing defenses.  Is it possible Kaepernick’s skill-set, primarily his ability to get out of the pocket and break contain and make things happen with his legs, had been the root of his success?  It begs the question.

I will say, I do believe Harbaugh’s offensive scheme is far more effective at the professional level.

What is next for Michigan football at the quarterback position?

Time is running out for Harbaugh to right the ship, get this Michigan football program through its choppy waters and pointed towards safety.

The Wolverines have yet to beat Ohio State under Harbaugh, going 0 for 5 and avoiding Buckeyes like the plague in 2020.  Sure the season was nothing but ordinary, but with the Buckeyes thriving and the Wolverines sinking, it was apparent Michigan desperately wanted to pull the plug early on their season, and they did.

After falling behind McNamara on the depth chart and a highly touted five-star freshman in J.J. McCarthy already on campus, Milton saw the writing on the wall.

It’s far too early to make any bold predictions. Still, I can only assume the Wolverines will start McNamara this upcoming season and redshirt McCarthy with the expectation he will walk in and be the starter come 2022.  I won’t rule out McCarthy battling and eventually beating out McNamara right from the get-go in 2021; that would be something fans should be excited about.

McCarthy may be Harbaugh’s last shot grooming a quarterback as the University of Michigan.  It’s embarrassing to see the program’s top quarterback recruits from 2016, 2017, and the 2018 class all leave the program before making any impact.

Next. 3 safeties to keep tabs on during the 2021 NFL Draft. dark

By all accounts, McCarthy is Harbaugh’s most decorated prospect since Luck; there are no more excuses; we need to see progress.  Progress doesn’t mean beating Ohio State in 2021; let’s try and keep it competitive and go from there.