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Daily Brews: Jim Harbaugh singled out for ‘stubbornness’ in Army game

The latest with the Michigan Wolverines and college sports world for Sept. 9

NCAA Football: Middle Tennessee at Michigan Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Now that we’ve had a Sunday to decompress from a Michigan Football Saturday (unless, well, you’re a Detroit Lions fan), it’s time to head into the bye week and move forward and look to how the Wolverines improve as a football team.

Just kidding. Of course there’s more fallout and hot takery from the weekend. Onto the Brews.

Harbaugh called out for ‘stubbornness’ vs. Army

Los Angeles Times staff writer J. Brady McCullough was apparently tuned into Michigan’s double overtime win over Army on Saturday where the Wolverines did everything they could to be upset, but held off the Black Knights. He is joining the legion of pundits and media that believe Jim Harbaugh being stubborn and Michigan reverting to its old ways played a part in the near-defeat.

“Army had pushed seventh-ranked Michigan to the limit with the same brutal efficiency it employed a year ago at Oklahoma before falling to the Sooners in overtime. The Wolverines should have felt fortunate to be tied at 14 with the Black Knights, given the three fumbles and the inability of quarterback Shea Patterson to show real command of the new Michigan offense that was created with his skills in mind.

Yet, facing fourth and two from the Army 19, Harbaugh did not realize his good fortune and take the 36-yard field goal for Michigan’s first lead of the game. He asked a running game that averaged less than three yards per rush on the day to make him feel like these were the good old days at the Big House, when the tough yards were inevitably Michigan’s to be had. Army mobbed Michigan freshman Zach Charbonnet in the backfield, a result Harbaugh easily should have predicted and avoided.

Later, with less than three minutes left, Harbaugh had another fourth-and-two call to make, this time from the Army 43. Instead of pinning Army’s triple-option attack deep and setting up his defense with good field position to get the ball back and at the very least get to overtime, Harbaugh again decided to go for it. Michigan dialed Charbonnet’s number, and again, the former Oaks Christian standout was stuffed.

Harbaugh’s stubbornness, even confronted with what should have been mounting evidence that this was not a day for bold statements about his team’s backbone, nearly cost Michigan the game and all the good vibes his fan base has been able to muster entering this season with an 0-4 record against Ohio State.”

I don’t buy that Harbaugh took the playsheet away from Gattis in the second half. He all but washed his hands of that after the game when he said Michigan ran “the plays that were called” down the stretch and called questions about the approach “low-hanging fruit.” Of course he had input, but it seems hard to believe that he spent all offseason saying this was Gattis’ offense and then a game and three-quarters into the season, he would rip the playsheet away and say it’s my turn again.

Michigan’s gameplan seemed pretty cut and dry Saturday in that they were going with a bit of a throwback offensive approach to go on long drives of their own that kept Army off the field. In theory, that’s fine, and not a bad way to go about it. However, they pretty much ran the Michigan offense we saw last year, just out of the shotgun and with the quarterback rarely — if ever — keeping the ball on an option run. It was bizarre and coupled with the fact that none of it was blocked all that well, which is an entirely different issue.

People are right to be frustrated and confused about why there was all of the preseason hype, but the “Harbaugh is stubborn” routine is one of the oldest and lamest bits in the book. Why can’t they just be criticized for making a bad call or not executing it? It almost cost them a football game and regardless of what the analytics said, Michigan could have used better judgement. Criticize Harbaugh and his staff for a lot of things from Saturday, this included, but the stubbornness bit seems overblown.

They fought and did not back down when Army punched them in the mouth, but the Wolverines did get lucky on Saturday. Mistakes they made will not win them more than eight or nine football games this season.

If you want to label it as hubris, I can get on board with that. Stubbornness implies closed-mindedness and I just don’t see that as being the case here.

It’s sort of ugly now, but let’s judge them on what comes next. Because what comes next is a heck of a lot scarier and far more important.

Clay Travis chokes on humble pie

Fox Sports’ Clay Travis is another in a long line of resident loudmouths from SEC country, who just so happens to be a Tennessee Volunteers fan. One would think that coming off of the most embarrassing defeat in program history against Georgia State, one would be reserved in their takes about other programs.

That isn’t Clay’s style, though, as he seemed to pick the lowest, most rotten of the hanging fruits to attack after an emotional Wolverines victory in 2OT.

Anyone who follows Michigan Football even a little bit knows that the team after a game makes its way over to the student section to show gratitude to the fans. This fella made it sound like fans rushed the field and that was total mayhem. And by the way, the Wolverines also joined Army in a postgame huddle as well.

All of this made what happen the rest of the night that much sweeter.

Tennessee played BYU in its second game of the year at home looking to get the bad taste out of its mouth from last week. It did not happen, as the Cougars used a Hail Mary at the end of regulation to setup a game-tying field goal that sent things into overtime. Then, Tennessee lost, and the next two tweets were sent out exactly at 10:41 p.m. ET.


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