It’s the Monday after a tough loss in a measuring stick game for the Michigan football program, and we have had to spend the last few days taking our medicine after one of the most frustrating efforts of the Jim Harbaugh. Part of that is dealing with reactions from people we do not really want to hear from, but that is kind of what we signed up for here.
First up is Urban Meyer, who of course is now working for FOX as a studio analyst and has had several on-point comments about the Michigan program since he took the job. His latest may be the most damning.
“People are going to look at that game and ask, ‘What’s the problem? Let’s blame the players and coaches.’ That’s not the case,” Meyer said after the 35-8 blowout at Wisconsin. “There’s good players in that program. Every year, they recruit. Every one one of those players on that field are highly-recruited guys.
”Those coaches are (good) coaches. You have to lift up the hood and ask what is wrong. Those guys can play. They can coach. There’s a problem there. You lift up that hood and you’re not going to like what you see.”
We may not like what Meyer has to say and might roll our eyes at his criticisms, but he is not the only person to suggest there might be a culture problem in Ann Arbor. As far as what the fix is, that is anyone’s guess. However, the argument that they have the talent and the coaching in place in theory points to a disconnect that the Wolverines have to figure out quickly if they want to get their season back on track.
Reggie Bush thinks the locker room is lost
Meyer’s deskmate on FOX, former USC star Reggie Bush, was a bit harsher in his criticisms.
“It kind of feels like they may have lost the locker room a little bit,” Bush said after the game. “It feels like Harbaugh may have lost the locker room because you had two weeks to prepare for the game, and that’s the best effort that you put out there. By that account, your team’s not getting better. They seem like they’re getting worse. We saw this from Week 1, and then Week 2 when they really struggled against Army. Now, they really weren’t even in the game from the start of the game.
“From the outside looking in as a player, and having seen these situations before, it feels like maybe Harbaugh has lost the locker room.”
What the others are saying
“This is a coach who led not only by intellect but by charisma, knowledge and grit.
Saturday’s 35-14 defeat is becoming a habit. Michigan was bullied, and not too many eyebrows were raised this time. Maybe that’s the saddest part three games into Harbaugh’s fifth season.
The program doesn’t have an identity except that, lately, it fails on the largest stages. It isn’t particularly physical. It isn’t disciplined, given the seven fumbles lost to date. (There were only three fumbles lost last season.)”
“Michigan’s inability to deliver in moments like this isn’t a Josh Gattis thing. It’s not a Don Brown thing. It’s not a Shea Patterson thing or an offensive line thing or an officiating thing or any other thing.
It’s a Jim Harbaugh thing.
He’s in charge of determining what system this program runs on both sides of the ball. He’s in charge of making sure his players are mentally prepared enough to enter battles against opponents who don’t give a damn about that time he coached an NFL team to the Super Bowl. He’s in charge of staffing. He’s in charge of recruiting.
He’s in charge of delivering. When Michigan has a clear talent advantage or the luxury of playing at home, he does. When talent evens out and things get uncomfortable in enemy territory, he doesn’t.
“(The fire was) Harbaugh’s identity, and he imbued his team with it. He even had a mantra that encapsulated the philosophy: “Attack each day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.”
Maybe you thought it was hollow, a kind of cliché. Or maybe you thought it was all too much.
Whatever else you say, his teams knew who they were, from San Diego to Stanford to San Francisco to Michigan. The offense may have changed, and the players obviously did. Yet Harbaugh’s success as a coach was never really attached to any one style or offensive or defensive approach.
It was him. His inferno.
And while it may burn just as hot, it no longer envelops Michigan’s program.”
Latest bowl projection from ESPN
ESPN is in lockstep on where Michigan currently projects in bowl season and it likely is a matchup we may see frequently batted around if the paths of the two teams continue as they have.
Both Kyle Bonagura and Mark Schlabach have the Wolverines taking on the USC Trojans in the RedBox Bowl on Dec. 30, which is set to be held at Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco and Harbaugh’s old stomping grounds.
Bonagura has Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State and Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff, while Schlabach has Clemson, Alabama, Georgia and Oklahoma.
- Five-star 2020 center Walker Kessler committed to North Carolina on Sunday night. Juwan Howard and the men’s basketball program had hosted him for a visit during the weekend of the football opener on Aug. 31.
- Former Texas and Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead was found dead overnight on Sunday. Police in Austin, Texas are currently investigating what might have happened.
- Clemson played 111 players in its 52-10 win over Charlotte this weekend. Whether or not you like the scheduling, that’s an impressive number that’s hard to make happen with only 11 guys on the field at any given time.
- Hey, my Jim Harbaugh article made the front page of r/CFB on Saturday. Cool, I guess.