Jim Harbaugh has certainly been a polarizing head coach for the Michigan Wolverines. He does a lot of things right — the recruiting classes are consistently highly ranked, the record of 47-18 in his career in Ann Arbor is adequate, and he keeps the University of Michigan in the headlines constantly for the great work he does for the development of his players both on and off the field.
But what about the things he has done wrong? The 0-5 elephant in the room of a record against Ohio State may earn the top marks there, but former Wolverine and current Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham thinks it goes a little bit deeper than that. He told the Jamie and Stoney Show on 97.1 The Ticket:
“I just feel like we need a quarterback. That’s been our biggest Achilles right there. A quarterback that can lead them like a Trevor Lawrence, someone like that. We’ve been having the defense, we’ve been doing all we could, but we can’t move the ball with all the receivers we have. We got running backs now, the (offensive) line has been playing a lot better... I really do like Harbaugh, I just feel like he needs a quarterback. I don’t know what’s going on with that part. That’s my biggest issue.”
For a man that came into Ann Arbor as a quarterback guru working with the likes of Josh Johnson at the University of San Diego, Andrew Luck at Stanford, and even Colin Kaepernick with the 49ers, he has yet to achieve that kind of success here at Michigan.
It’s not like those guys just fell into Harbaugh’s lap either. All three were groomed by Harbaugh and developed into stud quarterbacks. Where has that been at Michigan?
Arguably the most talented man behind center under Harbaugh to this point was probably Jake Rudock who saw an increase of almost 600 passing yards, a higher completion percentage, and more touchdowns between his junior season at Iowa and his senior season with Harbaugh at Michigan. But that was only one season, and how much of that was really Coach Harbaugh unlocking his potential?
Wilton Speight looked promising in 2016, but was then injured in 2017 leaving John O’Korn and Brandon Peters scrambling for the job with little preparedness to take over. Shea Patterson was supposed to come in as a junior and save the program, but even the five star recruit could not be polished into the quarterback that all Michigan fans desired him to be.
That is why the pressure on Harbaugh is at it’s highest right now. We just witnessed a consensus top recruit turn into an undrafted free agent in his care and it’s all boiling over right now because of it.
Fans have seen the impact that a elite quarterback can have on a program. Joe Burrow’s rise last season at LSU made the team go from 10-3 in 2018 to undefeated National Champs in 2020. A jump like that on the most important position on the field is not unprecedented.
Now with Joe Milton and Dylan McCaffrey in the hunt for the starting job, Harbaugh will have another chance to show off his developmental abilities. Let’s see if this will be the time that Michigan finally strikes gold and has a bonafide star at quarterback.