How Michigan would fire Jim Harbaugh
Written by Jonathan Lidskin
First things first: Jim Harbaugh is a good football coach. Michigan is significantly better off with Harbaugh at the helm. Brady Hoke was 12-13 in his final two seasons at Michigan before being replaced by Harbaugh. Since Harbaugh has become the head coach at Michigan, he has had 3 ten win seasons and has had two seasons where Michigan was a play away from making the playoff. So if Harbaugh has had much more success than the coach before him, why should he be fired? He shouldn’t be fired based on the way his teams have performed, but there are 2 scenarios in which Michigan could fire Harbaugh and the firing would be justified.
An extremely awful 2020 season
Harbaugh’s worst season at Michigan has been an 8-5 campaign in which the year was considered a “transition year” for the Wolverines. Even in that year, 4 out of their 5 losses were against teams that finished ranked in the top 20. 3 of those 4 teams were top 10 teams. Michigan’s schedule this year looks somewhat similar to that 8 win year in 2017. Michigan will face 4 ranked teams, 2 of which will be top 10 teams. They will also have to play road games against rival Michigan St and Washington. The Wolverines will have to grind out wins to stay afloat in the Big Ten race. If Harbaugh cannot manage to win 8 games in the regular season, a firing would be reasonable. This is extremely unlikely based on the talent Michigan has, but it is possible with the schedule they have. They’ll see Washington, Wisconsin and Penn St all within the first 5 weeks so if Michigan is 2-3 by week 6, Harbaugh could be in some serious trouble.
They have a better option
Not many college coaches can do as well as Jim Harbaugh has done at Michigan with the expectations of that program. However, if there was a better option to replace Harbaugh, Michigan fans would be more than happy for him to be fired. Michigan might have that option, but the question is whether the guy is read or not. The guy’s name: Josh Gattis. Gattis is currently the offensive coordinator at Michigan and was hired to that position for the 2019 season. In 2018, Michigan had the 91st ranked scoring offense in the FBS. In 2019, Gattis elevated the program to the 44th in the country. The same goes for total offense. In 2018, Michigan was 105th and in 2019 they were 68th. Both rankings increased dramatically and that is considering Michigan wasn’t even used to Gattis’ new offensive system until the second half of the Penn St game. The only question surrounding Gattis is his age. He is only 36 years old which is really young to take over any program and especially a program like Michigan. There is no doubt that he has taken a Michigan offense that has struggled throughout Harbaugh’s tenure and made it a force to be reckoned with.
Will Harbaugh actually be fired?
The short answer is that Harabaugh won’t be fired. There is, however, a plethora of reasons he won’t be. Michigan will win at least 9 games this year. The offense is going to be good under Gattis this year. Michigan has 2 quarterbacks in Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton who will both be used this year and who have different strengths that can help the offense. Michigan also returns Running Back Zach Charbonnet who had a very good freshman season last year. They return 6 defensive starters so the team as a whole is definitely not rebuilding. With the pieces they have, the Wolverines should win at least 9 games not including a bowl game. The other main reason why Michigan won’t fire Harbaugh is because the expectations from college football fans are too high. Michigan has not played in a national championship since the start of the BCS era. Their last national championship was a shared championship with Nebraska in 1997. Despite being the all time win leader in college football, Michigan at the moment is not an elite program and hasn’t been for quite some time. If they keep trending in the direction they were headed in the second half of last season, Harbaugh could win a national championship. However, Ohio St, believe it or not, has its best years ever as a program coming up. So Michigan fans, be patient with Harbaugh. Your day will come.