As John Beilein’s team cut down the Staples Center nets on Saturday night in Los Angeles, my mind drifted to a different place. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who had this thought.

It wasn’t the non-timeout decision by Florida State or how Michigan had the look of a team of destiny. As expected, my football-focused brain went to the pigskin and I asked myself a hypothetical question.

“Man, can you even imagine if Michigan football ever won a game that big with Jim Harbaugh?”

The statue of Harbaugh would probably go up faster than you could say “with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.” Ann Arbor would be a mad house. Michigan’s return to prominence would be the story of the year in college football.

That’s not to say that Michigan’s Final Four berth wasn’t celebrated. I mean, did you see the postgame locker room party?

The topic of discussion regarding Beilein right now is whether he’s the best coach in college basketball. His case got stronger after he won consecutive B1G Tournament titles and he clinched his second Final Four berth in six years (he made three Elite Eights in that stretch).

In five of the last seven seasons, Michigan accomplished one of the following things:

  • Won a regular season B1G title (2012, 2014)
  • Won a B1G Tournament title (2017, 2018)
  • Played in a Final Four (2013, 2018)

That’s blue-blood level success.

Michigan is supposed to be the blue-blood football program. Under Harbaugh, obviously, that hasn’t happened yet. Through three years, Harbaugh has yet to accomplish the following things:

  • Earn a top-2 finish in the B1G East
  • Win a New Year’s Six Bowl
  • Make the College Football Playoff
  • Beat Ohio State

All of those unchecked boxes on Michigan’s list of goals are a byproduct of Harbaugh’s 8-7 record once the calendar flips to November. Harbaugh’s teams haven’t played their best football down the stretch. All of them, one could argue, peaked well before the postgame water fights in the locker room were ever in the cards.

Again, the sample size with Harbaugh is still small. It took Beilein until Year 5 just to finish better than fourth in the B1G. It took until Year 7 just to make it past the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament (that team ultimately lost in the national championship).

Maybe Harbaugh just needs more time. Beilein finally got the right point guard to run his offense (Trey Burke), which was when things started clicking. Harbaugh might finally have the right quarterback to run his offense (Shea Patterson), which could be when things start clicking.

Who knows what it’ll take for Harbaugh to bridge the gap between Michigan football and Michigan basketball’s late-season success? It seems like Beilein’s squads have a knack for winding up on the right side of miracles.

Without these 30-footers, Michigan doesn’t make the Final Four in 2013 or 2018:

Michigan football, on the other hand, always seems to end up on the wrong side of miracles. There was the fumbled punt against Michigan State in 2015. The J.T. Barrett fourth-down run in 2016 is still too sensitive of an issue to bring up. And people might’ve already blocked out Nyquan Murray’s touchdown in the final seconds of the 2016 Orange Bowl.

So yeah, Michigan basketball has been a bit more, um, let’s call it “fortunate” than Michigan football. But whatever you want to call it, the difference between the two programs is more than a play here or there.

Since the beginning of Beilein’s 7-year stretch, his teams are 39-14 (0.736 winning percentage) once March rolls around. Just for a little perspective, that’s a better March winning percentage than Mike Krzyzewski (0.673), Roy Williams (0.719) and Tom Izzo (.653) the last seven years. Programs are only remembered for what they do in March, which has been a blessing for Beilein after some mediocre starts to the season.

Harbaugh, on the other hand, has been hurt by that logic. The guy is 20-4 in pre-November games at Michigan.

Go ask Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin how much those pre-November wins matter. Oh yeah, I mean Arizona* coach Kevin Sumlin. He was fired with a 51-26 record because after that magical 2012 season with Johnny Manziel, Sumlin’s teams went 11-13 after Nov. 1.

That’s not may way of saying Harbaugh has to turn around his late-season struggles or else he’ll be out at Michigan. The guy isn’t anywhere near the hot seat.

But it’s natural to wonder when Harbaugh is going to get his sigh of relief accomplishment. Beilein added his fifth sigh of relief accomplishment to his Michigan résumé on Saturday. Once again, he was praised for his ability to figure things out at the right time.

That praise came from Harbaugh, too:

Maybe next year it’ll be Beilein who gives Harbaugh the congratulatory tweet after a monumental postseason win. Perhaps instead of a postgame water fight, Harbaugh is doused with a Gatorade cooler’s worth of whole milk. Who knows what that celebration will look like when Harbaugh gets over the hump.

For now, though, all we can do is imagine.