He’s a favorite target for some media members. His contract, lack of wins vs. rivals and ranked teams, and overall perceived failure to meet Michigan standards have all been narratives at one time or another.

But on Saturday, none of that mattered for Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh, who finally got a win over Ohio State, 42-27, and clinched a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game this Saturday in Indianapolis. It was also UM’s first win over a top-5 team since 2006, an additional fact to throw at the anti-Harbaugh crowd.

Harbaugh has done things that have never — or have rarely — been done in Ann Arbor, yet he’s constantly in the crosshairs of pundits.

He’s always taken the high road. He’s always been focused on coaching, that’s it.

When opposing coaches go out of their way to disparage Michigan, Harbaugh remains cool and collected. When asked about comments made by Buckeyes coach Ryan Day, Harbaugh was clear and direct with his response.

“Some people are born on third and think they hit a triple,” Harbaugh said.

Don’t forget about Day saying OSU would “hang 100” on Michigan, or the JJ McCarthy jersey-stomping videos, or the rest of the rivalry chatter …

Harbaugh sure as hell didn’t. He might not publicly mention it, but you can believe that he never forgets.

Saturday’s win was more than satisfying for Harbaugh; that was clear by his demeanor during his postgame interview with Fox. In fact, for the past few weeks, Harbaugh’s post-game on-field interviews have become news in themselves: His nod to TE Erick All, or his huge grins and body language — all of that points to Harbaugh really enjoying his job.

He loves Michigan.

Despite uproars from fans and media calling for his job, or the criticism dumped on him by national pundits, Harbaugh continues to build a positive environment and develop players. That can’t be debated. He’s won 10 games or more 4 times in 7 years and has put three dozen-plus players in the NFL since 2017. Michigan football hasn’t been better in decades.

Saturday showed that Harbaugh, who was definitely low-balled with his recent 4-year “extension,” lives and dies for one thing. How many coaches have that level of dedication? Not many.

For the past couple of years, some questioned if Harbaugh had lost his edge. His attitude changed. He appeared to be stressed. His once-familiar energy was absent.

This year wasn’t supposed to be a title-run type of season. Michigan was supposed to follow its 2-4 season in 2020 with 6 or 7 wins. Harbaugh was supposed to be burned out.

That entire narrative was flipped this year, one game at a time.

After a few weeks, Michigan’s confidence was undeniable and its players started talking about this year being potentially “special.” This was the type of season that Harbaugh was supposed to eventually have in Ann Arbor. Other than a 37-33 loss to Michigan State, the past few months couldn’t have gone better for the Wolverines.

The progress of the Wolverines couldn’t be any better. This is the Michigan envisioned by Harbaugh.

For some programs, winning comes with a cost. Some teams deal with a lot of off-field issues. But as long as they’re winning, things tend to get brushed aside or hidden from the public.

Since taking over at Michigan, Harbaugh hasn’t put up with misconduct, nor has he been in the news for anything negative. No recruiting violations. No damaging dash cam videos from traffic stops. No videos of him getting a lap dance from a woman who’s not his wife. No players in the news for illegal activities. Harbaugh has swiftly dealt with internal issues since Day 1.

You get the picture. He runs a tight ship and a clean program.

Maybe Harbaugh hasn’t met fans’ irrational expectations, in terms of timelines. Maybe he hasn’t always won in the court of public opinion. But he’s done everything the right way and has the Wolverines on the brink of a potentially historic stretch.

The “Fire Harbaugh” contingent was always amusing. Why can the guy? It’s not like every coach can do what Harbaugh does, especially at a school like Michigan and in conference like the Big Ten.

But he was 0-5 against the Buckeyes before Saturday.

Yes, he was.

With that said, nobody has had much success against Ohio State. Michigan State celebrated winning 2 of 5 a few years back, but that’s about it. Since then, there hasn’t been a team celebrating anything in reference to the Buckeyes. It takes time to swing the balance. Ohio State has been a perennial national contender for the better part of the past 20 years, while Michigan went through a pair of coaching freefalls before finally landing Harbaugh.

Harbaugh’s Wolverines snapped Ohio State’s 29-game win streak against Big Ten opponents and OSU’s 21-game win streak over ranked conference opponents.

Every streak begins with the initial effort. Saturday was Harbaugh’s first step in bucking the trend vs. Ohio State, but he’s really already taken several steps in the right direction, in terms of bettering UM football: Younger coaches, culture change, player development, etc. But nobody was going to recognize any of that until he beat the Buckeyes.

A few weeks ago, Harbaugh was an underachiever. National media had a field day picking apart his imperfections. Today, he’s being touted as a great developer who’s really changed things at Michigan.

It’s funny how one win against a rival — the first in 10 years — can immediately change perception and force even the most critical analysts (ahem, Paul Finebaum) to change their tunes.