Paul Chryst and Jim Harbaugh appear to be on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to personality. You could make the case that both are fairly soft-spoken individuals, but Harbaugh is usually a little more eager to speak what’s on his mind while the typical coach speak tends to spill out of Chryst’s mouth.
Harbaugh and Michigan hate providing depth charts and talking injury news. Chryst and Wisconsin tend to be pretty open about those situations. Harbaugh is arguably the most quoted coach in college football, while microphones tend to bypass Chryst.
As different as the two are in the media room, they’re actually fairly similar when it comes to success on the field.
This weekend, the two head coaches will be on opposite sidelines again as No. 11 Michigan travels to Madison to take on No. 13 Wisconsin in what will be the first marquee battle in the B1G this year. It will be the fourth time Chryst and Harbaugh have squared off since 2016.
Heading into Saturday’s top 15 showdown, Harbaugh owns a 2-1 advantage over Chryst, winning in Ann Arbor in 2016 and 2018. Chryst took the 2017 contest in Madison. Wisconsin gets a chance to even the score at home this week.
But the relatively even head-to-head series (it’s just three games, I know), is hardly the only similarity between the two. Harbaugh and Chryst, who both took over at their respective alma maters in 2015, have actually enjoyed comparable success as they’re now into their fifth seasons.
|Overall record||40-14 (.741)||44-12 (.786)|
|B1G record||26-9 (.743)||27-8 (.771)|
|Division titles||0 (East)||2 (West)|
|10+ win seasons||3||3|
|Worst record||8-5 (2017)||8-5 (2018)|
|Bowl record||1-3 (.250)||4-0 (1.000)|
Obviously, the division titles and bowl records are leaning in Chryst’s favor. Getting to the B1G Championship Game has been Harbaugh’s white whale since arriving in Ann Arbor. In that regard, Chryst has bested the Wolverines leader.
You can, however, make the argument that Harbaugh likely would’ve won at least one division title if Michigan played in the West in 2016. That year, they won the head-to-head matchup with Wisconsin and would’ve owned the tiebreaker to send them to Indianapolis that season. Unfortunately for Harbaugh and company, that’s not how it works.
Nonetheless, it’s interesting to see two different personalities achieve such a similar level of success on the field, yet are viewed so differently in the public eye. Chryst has been considered somewhat of an overachiever at Wisconsin, despite the fact that the Badgers have been a prominent fixture in the B1G for over decades now.
Harbaugh, on the other hand, is often viewed as the underachiever of the group, failing to beat Ohio State in four tries and not possessing at least a division title. If he doesn’t accomplish those two goals this year, his seat could be a little toastier this November.
Saturday marks another key moment in the series between the two programs — and the two head coaches. The winner gets the chance to add a big win to its potential College Football Playoff resumé, while the other will suffer its first B1G loss of the season.
It’s going to be a gut punch to whichever team doesn’t come out on top — not to state the obvious or anything.
Not too often do Harbaugh and Chryst get mentioned in the same sentence. For some reason, we haven’t compared the two B1G head coaches who have provided stability at their respective programs for four straight seasons.
With such a big game on the horizon between the two, this week felt like as good of a time as any. And while we can marvel at the similar success the two have had through their first four years, you better believe we’ll be talking about these two coaches very differently depending on the result of Saturday’s showdown between the Wolverines and Badgers.
Even though we probably shouldn’t.