When you think Jim Harbaugh, can you say $49 Million bust?

Alabama beat Michigan 35-16 in the Citrus Bowl, but the bigger story is the fact Nick Saban undressed Jim Harbaugh on a national stage, outscoring Michigan 21-0 in the 2nd Half while holding Michigan to just 27 Yards Rushing in the 2nd Half as well.

Saban had a solid game plan, but Harbaugh’s game plan was half-baked, and when the game clock ticked zero, it was yet another reminder that Jim Harbaugh is nothing more than a journeyman coach incapable of beating the best.

It would be an understatement to say that for $49 Million, the University of Michigan made one of the worst investments of all time and let’s be clear, Michigan invested $49 Million and anointed Jim Harbaugh with one of the most lucrative contracts in college football history to do one thing: win a National Championship.

Yet after 5 years, Jim Harbaugh hasn’t even come close: he hasn’t even won a Big Ten Division title. Meanwhile, in the past 5 seasons, 4 other coaches have won a Big Ten East title at least once, including Mark Dantonio, James Franklin, Urban Meyer and Ryan Day.

Meanwhile, since 2015, 3 other coaches have won the Big Ten West at least once, including Kirk Ferentz, Pat Fitzgerald and Paul Chryst.

Yet for all the fanfare, hyperbole and $49 Million contract compensation, here is what Jim Harbaugh has accomplished in 5 seasons at Michigan:

  • 1-12 vs Top 10 ranked opponents
  • 1-4 in Bowl games (0-4 in last 4)
  • Zero Big Ten East Titles
  • Zero Big Ten Titles
  • Zero National Titles

Of course a team can’t win a National Title without winning a Conference Title, and Michigan hasn’t won a Big Ten title since 2004. Yet, Jim Harbaugh told the media prior to this season that Michigan should be picked to win a Big Ten title and earn an invitation to the College Football Playoff. Yet by week 3 that plan was off the rails. Harbaugh narrowly beat Army 24-21 in two Overtimes in the 2nd week of the season, and then got hammered by Wisconsin in week 3, 35-14.

Incapable of building a football organization:

Jim Harbaugh not only hasn’t built a Big Ten champion, but he oversees a program that is flat lined at an average of just 9.2 regular season wins each year, and that’s a dismal “return on investment” for $49 Million.

It wasn’t any different at Stanford. We were repeatedly told Harbaugh did great things when he coached at Stanford, but the media should check the facts: in 4 seasons at Stanford, Harbaugh compiled an overall record at 29-21 (58%), including a PAC 12 record of 21-15 (58%) and of course, Harbaugh never won a PAC 12 Championship either. Sound familiar?


Yet with all the resources at his disposal at Michigan, you have to consider that Jim Harbaugh is incapable of building a Championship organization.

In fact, Harbaugh’s wholesale coaching changes tell us he is more adept at “spinning the wheel of fortune” than building a championship organization. Jim Harbaugh has churned through 13 assistant coaches in 5 seasons, including 3 Offensive Coordinators and that includes Josh Gattis the man who was supposed to bring “Speed in Space” to Michigan Football. You remember the preseason hype regarding “Speed in Space”?

While searching for answers, Harbaugh hired Josh Gattis to be his newest Offensive Coordinator. Of course, Gattis was Co-Offensive Coordinator at Alabama just last season. Upon his arrival in Ann Arbor, Gattis made it sound as if he did great things at Alabama yet he was only at Alabama for just one season, and let’s be honest, the title Offensive Coordinator at Alabama is a misnomer because Nick Saban calls the plays and his Offensive Coordinators carry Saban’s clipboard.

Nevertheless, we were told Gattis and would bring “Speed in Space” to Michigan’s Offense.

In fact, Gattis talked about “Speed in Space” as if he were the only Offensive Coordinator in the land who would seek to get his fastest and most elusive players in space, where those players could get “chunk yardage” and score at will.  But saying it, and doing it are two entirely different issues.

So, let’s compare Michigan’s Offense in 2018 (the year before  Gattis arrived at Michigan) to this season with Gattis calling the Offensive plays.

Offensive stats: 2018 2019 Impact with Gattis calling plays
Rushing Offense #30 (204 Yards per game) #77 (150 Yards per game) -54 Yards Rushing per game
Passing Offense #79 (215 Yards per game) #50 (250 Yards per game) +35 Yards Passing per game
Total Offense #49 (420 Yards per game) #68 (401 Yards per game) -19 Yards per game
Scoring Offense #21 (35 Points per game) #44 (32 Points per game) -3 Points per game

Clearly, Michigan’s Offense didn’t improve under Gattis and Josh Gattis schematics have proven to be a bust. More importantly, if Nick Saban valued Josh Gattis, then Gattis would still be at Alabama

In fact Saban exposed Gattis naivete. Michigan attempted 37 passes, completed just 17 (a deplorable 46%) and Alabama swiped two Interceptions. Alabama “locked down” Michigan Receivers. It was if Alabama Defensive backs knew exactly what passing plays were being called, and when. At the end of the day, Gattis and his so called “Speed in Space” Offense accounted for just one Touchdown, and was held scoreless in the 2nd Half.

Meanwhile, Michigan averaged a dismal 6.3 Yards per pass, while Alabama averaged 13.1 Yards per pass, and at the bottom line, Saban’s Defensive scheme made a mockery of Gattis simplistic game plan.

Where are the Quarterbacks?

And how about Harbaugh as a developer of Quarterbacks?

We were told, Jim Harbaugh was a great developer of Quarterbacks, but Harbaugh has had Zero success developing Quarterbacks.

And just like Harbaugh “spinning the wheel of fortune” in pursuit of 13 assistant coaches, Harbaugh has gone unsuccessfully to the transfer portal 3 time to get Quarterbacks, including Jake Rudock (Iowa), John O’Korn (Houston), and Shea Patterson (Ole Miss). The recruiting pipeline hasn’t worked well either given that Harbaugh has also deployed Wilton Speight (recruited by Brady Hoke) and Brandon Peters (recruited by Harbaugh himself), but they all self-destruct when the bright lights are turned on, and the bottom line, there are still no Championships.

In fact, considering that Michigan’s Defense yielded 126 points in 3 losses to Wisconsin, Ohio State and Alabama this year alone (an average of 42 points per game), most folks would think Jim Harbaugh tried to solve the wrong problem.

Given Michigan’s Defensive melt down in Big Games, including 118 points yielded to Ohio State in two games over two seasons (62 points in 2018 and 56 points in 2019), it seems like Harbaugh should fix his Defense and find a replacement for Defensive Coordinator, Don Brown. But he didn’t and that is “why” Jim Harbaugh is a $49 Million bust.


1 thought on “When you think Jim Harbaugh, can you say $49 Million bust?

  1. great article- Harbaugh has to live with himself daily- he should give at least 1/2 the money back. He doesn’t have the mental sophistication that a true coach needs. Too many blows to the head.

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