Kirk Herbstreit predicts big things for Jim Harbaugh this season
Kirk Herbstreit is certainly one of the more respected names and personalities in college football, but he’s drawing dangerously close to “hot take territory” with his latest statement on Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh.
Harbaugh is undoubtedly a good football coach, but he’s also undoubtedly underperformed heading into year four of his stint in Ann Arbor — especially when considering his contract.
Through three seasons, Harbaugh has led Michigan to a 28-11 record. That looks okay on paper, but it’s not factoring in two-straight bowl game losses, a 1-2 record against Michigan State, and an 0-3 record against bitter rival Ohio State.
Simply put, Harbaugh has been teetering on the edge of disappointment in Ann Arbor. That’s what makes this season so important for the Wolverines, and specifically, that’s what makes Michigan’s season-opening clash against No. 12 Notre Dame so vital.
Michigan has struggled to win big games against ranked opponents in the Harbaugh era, especially on the road, and a win against a good Fighting Irish team in South Bend would go a long ways towards erasing that mini legacy for Harbaugh and the Wolverines.
According to Herbstreit, though, a win against Notre Dame would be even bigger than that. In fact, Herbie believes a win over Notre Dame will help propel Harbaugh back to the top:
“Between us,” Herbstreit said Friday on an ESPN conference call, “I think they’re going to go to South Bend and win, and I think they’re going to get on a roll. I think they’re going to be able to create an identity. I think people that are down on Jim Harbaugh. By Week 3, they’re going to go back to saying how he’s the greatest coach in the country, and I think the momentum is going to be created there.”
It’s worth noting that week two and three for the Wolverines feature Western Michigan from the MAC and the AAC’s SMU, so it’s not necessarily like Michigan would be beating three world-beaters in a row in the Wolverines do start the season 3-0.
“And then it’s just a matter of whether or not – again, you’re playing Wisconsin at home, you’re at Michigan State, Penn State at home and you’re at Ohio State, just to name a few, besides the Notre Dame game,” Herbstreit continued. “Those games are tough for anybody to deal with and to sit here and predict they’re going to win the Big Ten … I think they’re going to be right in the middle of toughest division in the country, that’s the Big Ten East, and it’s just a matter of whether or not they can catch a break and win a couple of those games.”
That doesn’t take away the importance and the potential impressive nature of a win over No. 12 Notre Dame on the road, but perhaps Harbaugh being the “greatest coach in the country” by Week 3 is a bit of an overreaction.