Paul Finebaum has, at times, been heavily critical of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh in the past.

But credit where credit is due: the SEC Network host sees plenty of credit to heap on Harbaugh’s plate after the Michigan Wolverines earned a No. 2 spot in this year’s College Football Playoff field and the program’s first outright Big Ten championship since 2003.

“It was a year ago (when) some of his own people were starting to wonder if he was the right coach,” Finebaum said on Sunday’s CFP selection show. “He took a contract cut. He didn’t say a word, and I really admired that by Jim Harbaugh. A lot of people would whine and complain. He just put his head down and did what he is supposed to do. I think he lost his way a little bit early on with the trips down south with the camps and to Normandy and to the Vatican. But I really believe that he’s done the best coaching job of anybody in the country. I would vote for him as national coach of the year because he took a team that wasn’t ranked (and) he is now in the playoffs.”

This is the same Finebaum, mind you, that left Michigan for dead following an Oct. 30 loss to Michigan State, a game that featured a blown Wolverine lead. He claimed that no one had blown more games than Harbaugh and that Mel Tucker at MSU had passed the Michigan man as the best coach in the state. And just 4 days before the Wolverines beat Ohio State 42-27, Finebaum said Harbaugh was “incapable” of beating the Buckeyes.

But the Spartans are playing in the Peach Bowl and the Buckeyes in the Rose Bowl, and they’ll have to sit and watch as the Wolverines play in a CFP semifinal.

“It’s truly a storybook story about a guy who came into the Big Ten as one of the most heralded coaches we have seen in college football since Nick Saban and Urban Meyer,” Finebaum said Sunday. “It’s beyond comprehension to think that Jim Harbaugh is in the playoffs right now.”

The Wolverines and 2nd-ranked Georgia Bulldogs will square off on Dec. 31 at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN with a trip to the national championship on the line.