Jim Harbaugh is confident his program is close to doing big things in the world of college football. Even though the Michigan head coach has been the subject of plenty of grief over the last five years, he’s not letting it stand in the way of his goals in Ann Arbor.
During his first five years with the program, Harbaugh has compiled a 47-18 record at the helm, which includes hitting the 10-win mark three times in that stretch. His teams have also appeared in a bowl game all five years, which is no small feat in the B1G.
Through five years at his alma mater, Harbaugh believes he and his staff have done some really good things in Ann Arbor. In a recent podcast interview with Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, the Michigan head coach talked about how much effort he has put in to building a consistent winner.
“It’s been years of just completely pouring myself and my heart and soul into this job, coaching guys and developing players and graduating players,” Harbaugh said on The TK Show. “It’s been great years. It’s been great years.”
Harbaugh has provided Michigan with its first bit of consistency since the Lloyd Carr days. Before Harbaugh was anointed the next leader of the program, the Wolverines struggled mightily under Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke.
Still, Harbaugh’s 0-5 record against Ohio State and his inability to win a B1G title have been consistent knocks against the head coach. He understands that its time to take the next step — which he believes his team is really close to doing.
“Always want to do better. Striving to be the best. Right now, I think our team is kind of on the cusp,” Harbaugh said. “We haven’t gotten over the top and into the playoffs and the championship, and that’s what drives us, what motivates us every day on the field and every day working toward that goal.”
In 2016 and 2018, Michigan narrowly missed out on playing for the B1G title. Both years, the Wolverines traveled to Columbus to play Ohio State. A win in those games would’ve propelled the Wolverines to the B1G Championship Game in Indianapolis.
The 2016 game was a thrilling finish, with the Buckeyes winning 30-27 in a double-overtime contest. The 2018 battle was much more lopsided, with Ohio State pounding Michigan 62-39.
Those shortcomings serve as motivation for Harbaugh and the Wolverines.
“We’ve been to the New Year’s bowl games and we’ve had success on the field,” Harbaugh said. “But you’re right, winning that championship — making the playoffs — I mean, that’s something our players and our coaches pour our hearts and souls into. We’re determined to get there.”
Next season will be Harbaugh’s sixth at Michigan. His team will see plenty of fresh faces, with Shea Patterson departing and the entire offensive line heading to the NFL. The Wolverines also have to replace receivers Donovan Peoples-Jones (NFL Draft) and Tarik Black (transferred to Texas) who were key parts of the offense.
The 2020 season could be a rebuild for the program.
But even as the program has its ups and downs, Harbaugh and his staff are focused on clearing the hurdle that has been standing in their way for five seasons.