18 Simple Reasons Michigan Should NOT Fire Jim Harbaugh
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18 Simple Reasons Michigan Should NOT Fire Jim Harbaugh

These times are critical for the Michigan football program.


Jim Harbaugh is entering his fourth season at Michigan, where he has amassed a 28-11 record over his first three seasons. Some fans firmly believe that Harbaugh is on the hot seat entering the 2018 season, one in which the schedule is surely unforgiving. This year's schedule includes all three rivalry games being away from home, starting with Notre Dame in week one and ending with the finale against Ohio State. They host Wisconsin and Penn State at home, two teams that combined to go 24-3 in the 2017 season.

While this is likely to cause some panic, I'm not panicking because I don't believe Michigan should fire Harbaugh. Here are 18 reasons why.

1. The program needs continuity

Since Lloyd Carr retired in 2007, Michigan has had three full-time head coaches (including Harbaugh), and the previous two coaches only lasted seven seasons combined. Lloyd Carr spent 13 seasons as coach, and Bo Schembechler coached 21 seasons before Gary Moeller spent 5 seasons between Schembechler and Carr. Harbaugh is the 10th head coach at Michigan dating back to 1929, and aside from him, Moeller, Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke, every coach from 1929 onward spent at least 10 seasons coaching the Wolverines. It's about time that the continuity returned to the program that has the most wins in college football history.

2. It costs a lot of money to fire him

Harbaugh's base salary is over $6,000,000 per season, which is one of the highest in the country. For the 2018 season, he's making $9M alone, and his contract still has at least two seasons remaining on it after the 2018 season, so it would cost nearly $20M to buy out his contract.

3. There aren't a lot of other candidates who want the job

Good luck finding a replacement. Not only would you have to find someone who has the same qualifications as Harbaugh, but that same candidate also wants at least $9M per season because of what Harbaugh is being paid.

4. There is nothing to lose for Michigan this season

The off-season has been interesting, since Michigan hasn't yet hired an offensive coordinator, and they made changes in their coaching staff, notably with their new strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert. With Herbert's energy, you know the Michigan players are motivated and will play their hardest, and they can be creative on offense. A lot of people are writing Michigan off already this season, so this is their moment to seize.

5. Michigan was ranked for 29 straight games under Harbaugh

From week five of the 2015 season (Harbaugh's first) through week eight of the 2017 season (vs. Penn State), Michigan was ranked in the top 25 every one of those weeks. In those 29 games, Michigan went 22-7, although it easily could have been 24-5.

6. Michigan was ranked the entire season in the top 10 during Harbaugh's second season

This hasn't happened in more than a decade. Moreover, the 2016 season was the first one that Michigan was ranked in its entirety since 2006 when they went 11-2 and it was also the first time Michigan won 10 games in a regular season since 2011.

7. The players have bought into Harbaugh

This ties back to the continuity mentioned in the first point and the players thrive best when they're hearing the same main voice consistently.

8. Harbaugh can play as many freshmen as he wants, whenever he wants

The new red-shirt rule allows for players to infuse new talented players throughout the season without costing them their eligibility. Even though this team is young yet experienced, Harbaugh can allow players to grow into the system by playing and learning the system by understanding the nuances of the offense and defensive schemes.

9. Harbaugh is learning just as much as his players are

Harbaugh admitted how tough his third season was at Michigan, and understands that he has to be better this coming season.

10. The running game has undergone a change in attitude

I mentioned how the team is motivated for this upcoming season, and no one is more motivated than the offensive line. Also, senior running back Karan Higdon is taking that attitude to the weight room and has bulked up considerably.

11. The passing offense is set to improve

Donovan Peoples-Jones is the leading receiver of those returning followed by Eddie McDoom and Tarik Black. Peoples-Jones and Black will shoulder more of the targets by (likely) Shea Patterson since both of them are over 6'2" and are also deep-threats as receivers. Not to mention, they're home-run threats each time they touch the ball.

12. Shea Patterson fits Michigan's offense

Patterson is a 'spread' QB because he primarily operates out of the shotgun, but he knows how to operate from under center. At 3:47 in this video, watch how he executes play-action and rolls to his left as a right-handed quarterback. It's a staple of the pro-style offense. He also can operate out of empty formations, which are useful in the two-minute drill and also an important component of the pro-style offense, which is run at Michigan. He'll do more under the center at Michigan than he did at Ole Miss, but I'm convinced that he can operate well in it because he can do so many things with the ball in his hands. He can also see the entire field and extend plays. It reminds me of how Wisconsin used Russell Wilson after he transferred from North Carolina State. The Big Ten has plenty of over-flowing defenses, so should they get out of position, Patterson knows how to exploit it.

13. Michigan hadn't had back-to-back 10-win seasons in 13 years

Harbaugh went 10-3 in each of his first two seasons at Michigan, and that was the first time since 2002-2003 under Lloyd Carr that Michigan had won 10 games in consecutive years. It's important to build that winning and sustain it. Since Carr retired, the winning hasn't been sustained. In the 10 seasons since Carr's retirement, Michigan has won only 74 games, with just three seasons of 10 wins or more. Two of those three seasons were led by Harbaugh.

14. Michigan is 1 of 4 Big Ten teams with a win-streak of at least 10 games since Harbaugh took over at Michigan

Wisconsin had a 13-game winning streak from the 2017 Cotton Bowl through the 2017 regular season; Iowa won all of their regular season games in 2015, and Ohio State won 12 straight games after Harbaugh was hired in December 29, 2014. Michigan won 10 straight from the 2016 Citrus bowl through week 10 of the 2016 season against Maryland before falling at Kinnick Stadium by one point. Michigan's previous longest winning streaks before that were a 6-game winning streak to open Brady Hoke's tenure at Michigan and an eight-game winning streak in Lloyd Carr's final season. Michigan's previous win streak of at least 10 games was in Carr's penultimate season when they won 11 straight before losing to Ohio State on November 18, 2006.

15. Harbaugh's NFL pedigree is a strong advantage in recruiting

For four years, Harbaugh got the best out of NFL players with the 49ers and led them to an appearance in the Super Bowl. Harbaugh is also able to get guys ready for the NFL when they are eligible. Under Harbaugh's watch, there have been two quarterbacks drafted, including number-one overall pick Andrew Luck from 2012. He also had an ad-hoc advisory role in getting 2015 top pick Jameis Winston and 4th-round pick Bryce Petty ready for the NFL, two players who had video game-like numbers in college.

16. Jim Harbaugh won't back down from making tough decisions

When John O'Korn was struggling to take command of Michigan's offense, he made the change to red-shirt freshman Brandon Peters against Rutgers, and Peters played well. Harbaugh also made the change from Alex Smith to Colin Kaepernick on the 49ers' way to the Super Bowl in the 2012 season. He has preached from the start of his tenure that everybody is competing for his position every day, and nothing is guaranteed.

17. Harbaugh is a hands-on coach

Since Harbaugh was a quarterback himself, he knows the importance of being in charge of the entire unit. Michigan needs that since Brady Hoke was less of a hands-on guy. As a result, the development of talent suffered under Hoke.

18. Harbaugh is passionate about Michigan

His passion for the program is the main reason he took the job. We all know his coaching acumen, so it's no question that he fitted what Jim Hackett was looking for when Harbaugh was hired. Harbaugh knew how to coach up players, and still does, and he knows what it takes to win at Michigan. He knows it from his firsthand experience as a player, when he went 3-0 against Ohio State and contributed to Michigan's Fiesta Bowl victory over Nebraska in the 1985 season.

There are plenty of reasons, as shown above, that Michigan should keep Harbaugh as coach. The biggest one is continuity, something Michigan has lacked, and as a result, there has been inconsistency in the performance. The players have bought into him, and they all know the importance of succeeding this season. There isn't a better situation than when almost everybody is writing the Michigan Wolverines off, and it'll be exciting to see them show that nobody has it better than the Wolverines do.

Go Blue.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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