Jim Harbaugh making the move to come home to his alma mater was arguably one of the biggest excitements that Michigan football fans had experienced in quite a while. Harbaugh, whose resume consisted of taking the Stanford Cardinal football team from a one-win team in 2006, and converting them into a one-loss team in four years.
Following a 12-1 record in 2010 with Stanford, Harbaugh answered the phone and packed his bags for San Francisco. Taking advantage of his new opportunity with the 49ers, Harbaugh took the then 6-10 team to one play short of a Super Bowl victory two years later.
Harbaugh took over the Wolverine coaching reigns from Brady Hoke in 2015, who if you remember started his first year 11-2 but hit a steep decline. So when Harbaugh stepped on campus, the Wolverines already had the players to achieve greatness, but the only obstacle facing them was the team south of the border, the dreaded Ohio State Buckeyes.
Wolverines fans were expecting a national championship in his first season, and at least expected a Big Ten championship. But what did those fans get?
Harbaugh's first game back, a loss to Utah, 24-17. The first game against in-state rival Michigan State? A fumble as time expires at home gives the Spartans a 27-23 win.
Harbaugh followed the losses with a three-point win over Minnesota and a seven-point win over Indiana.
The first matchup against the Buckeyes? Ohio State comes into the Big House and annihilates Michigan 41-7.
Fives years into the Harbaugh era and he has not beaten Ohio State. He is 1-3 in battles with the Spartans, 1-3 in bowl games, and 1-8 against top ten teams. Now being in year five the question has to be addressed, how much longer will Michigan put up with this?
The Wolverines started this season with a solid win over Middle Tennessee State, followed by a close overtime run-in with Army, and then the first road trip to Wisconsin, which was an embarrassing 35-14 loss.
The addition of Josh Gattis this offseason, the former Alabama co-offensive coordinator, gave Wolverine fans a little extra hope after last seasons horrific ending. But so far, Harbaugh and Gattis have been unable to get anything rolling.
The Wolverines have fumbled on the first drive-in each game this year. The first drive against Wisconsin consisting of a 68-yard pass to open the offense, followed by a fumble at the Wisconsin four-yard-line just two plays later continued the disastrous offensive start.
Some reports in the offseason included quarterback Shea Patterson as a possible Heisman candidate. Although now it seems like Jim Harbaugh, the former quarterback, cannot control his quarterbacks.
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Following the rocky start of the season that the Wolverines have faced, worries start to rush through the door looking at the rest of the season for Michigan. The Wolverines should have no problem in their home game this Saturday with Rutgers. But the remainder of their schedule leaves many question marks for Michigan fans.
After the game against Rutgers, the Wolverines will host an Iowa team who always makes the game with the Wolverines interesting. The following week also poses a question as the Wolverines travel to take on Illinois, where the new Fighting Illini quarterback, former Michigan quarterback, Brandon Peters knows the Michigan offense.
Michigan then travels to Death Valley to take on Penn State, return home to Notre Dame, travel to College Park for a battle with Maryland, which we have not seen their full potential yet, and finish out their season with Michigan State at home, Indiana in Bloomington, and Ohio State at home.
Looking at the rest of the season, if Harbaugh and the offense does not figure out something quick, they could be looking at a five or six-win season, which a performance as such would be completely unacceptable for Shea Patterson, Zach Charbonnet as one of the top running back prospects from last year's graduating class, and for Harbaugh and Gattis.
It is often said that "the captain always goes down with the ship." Well if the ship sinks on this season, we could be looking at the end of the Harbaugh era as we know it.
At this point, the Wolverines and the athletic department may want to be looking for new coaching options because so far, Harbaugh and the ship are sinking, and sinking fast.
*preview photo credited to Detroit Free Press
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