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Daily Brews: National analyst comes to the defense of the Jim Harbaugh era

Fox Sports analyst Joel Klatt says that Harbaugh has returned Michigan to “exactly what they have been historically.”

NCAA Football: Michigan at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Harbaugh against is under scrutiny for how things have been going with Michigan football and their struggles on the big stage while sitting at 5-2 on the season. His ability to win at the highest level has been called into question once more, but Fox Sports analyst Joel Klatt says that our perception of Harbaugh is being distorted by some of the historically great levels of coaching we currently have in college football.

Klatt spoke on the subject during an appearance on Colin Cowherd’s radio program on Wednesday.

“We have been ruined as NBA fans and as [golf fans], we’ve been ruined by Tiger Woods, we’ve been ruined by Michael Jordan and LeBron James. We expect this greatness at clips that are unheard of as far as the consistency of greatness,” Klatt said. “So Bama, and Nick Saban — and Urban Meyer to some degree by the way — they’ve kind of ruined the expectation of fanbases. Did you know that if you go back through and you average out the number of wins each season, Jim Harbaugh averages more wins per season than both Bo Schembechler and Lloyd Carr?

“He has returned Michigan to exactly what they have been historically, which is a really good program.”

Klatt has a good point and provides some sorely needed perspective here. We can be frustrated about missed opportunities, of which there have been a decent amount, and you should be frustrated with those. With that said, he is missing the point a bit here.

What Schembechler and Carr were able to do was beat Ohio State, win the Big Ten and get to the Rose Bowl. Michigan and Harbaugh haven’t done those things yet and have largely shot themselves in the foot when those goals have been within reach. They are a fourth down spot away from a trip to Indy in 2016 and they were favored heading into Columbus last season. Those are missed opportunities.

If coming out of the last era of Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke, someone told you the next head coach would have you between 8-4 and 10-2 every season, it feels like most people would have taken that. And regardless of what people say, that’s hard to do in this Big Ten with Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan State by and large staying competitive the same time that they have been.

A stat that Klatt throws out during the interview is that Michigan has won 11 or more games in a season only five times in the history of the program. Ohio State did that every year under Urban Meyer and have done it 18 times overall as a program.

Be mad that at times they are not well-enough prepared in road games. Be frustrated that self-inflicted wounds get in the way of some bigger goals. But as the Harbaugh era continues to move along, it might come with the sobering reality that this is simply the program that Michigan is and has been historically.

Harbaugh and his team have to be better in bigger moments, especially on the road and as underdogs, but Nick Saban, Dabo Swinney and Meyer were unicorns. Those guys do not grow on trees. And one has to be really carefully about chasing unicorns.

Harbaugh isn’t a unicorn, but he still was the best possible hire they could have made at the time. If Michigan finds a way to scratch out nine wins from this season plus a bowl victory, that’ll be four ten-win seasons in five years.

It might not be good enough to you, the fan. But the optics of letting go of that is akin to what Nebraska did to Bo Pelini. They still have not climbed out of that hole.

James Franklin offers up thoughts on officiating

Harbaugh did not seem 100 percent thrilled with the officiating at times during the loss at Penn State and was asked about it in his postgame press conference after the game.

“Be interesting the see the linemen downfield,” Harbaugh said. “When they called on us, it took off a touchdown, compared to the one that stands out in my mind was Hawkins going for an interception and the guard knocking it away. There’s a few. OPI they called on us versus the OPI that I thought should have been called on them in their first touchdown.

“But as far as the calls and the officiating go, it will be an interesting comparison.”

That led to this.

“The thing I’m not going to do, is I’m not going to come in here and, after a game, talk about penalties and the impact that they have on a game,” Franklin said Tuesday, via 247Sports. “The officials have a very tough job to do. Each week, there’s going to be calls our opponent doesn’t like and there’s going to be calls that we don’t like. I’m going to handle it through the process that the Big Ten has to be able to communicate one-on-one.

”But I’m not going to come into a press conference — I haven’t really done that in six years. I’m going to try to avoid doing that and be respectful of the process and of the officials. But also, I think it sends the wrong message to my team. I’m not going to come in and talk about calls or officials.”

Me, looking to find where the “jab” is.

And so, the click cycle turns.

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