Jim Harbaugh has delivered many memorable football guy quotes in his day, enough to fill up a book (“Attack the day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind” is a personal favorite). But this latest quote, one that’s created a number of unfavorable headlines, is one Harbaugh is going to wish everyone forgets.
But it’s going to be hard to forget for college football fans who have been paying attention to his Michigan tenure. During a Q&A with 247sports.com, the topic of the Wolverines winning a National Championship came up. Here’s what Harbaugh had to say:
“I mean, just look back over the last the last years that we’ve been here last five years. About as close as you can possibly be. But you got to put it over the top. That’s what drives us.”
Hoooo boy Jim. Jim. Jim. Jim. “As close as you can possibly be” ? Before I try to (sort of) defend him, it should be pointed out that Harbaugh has never won more than 10 games in Ann Arbor, and never lost less than three. He’s lost four consecutive bowl games, the last two by three scores each. “Close” is the exact opposite of what the Wolverines have been to a National Championship.
But, if we were to put our Michigan Man caps on for a second, Harbaugh has certainly had chances to at least make the College Football Playoff. In his first year at Michigan in 2015, they infamously lost to rival Michigan State on the final play of the game, when they were leading 23-21 and their punter fumbled a snap and watched MSU’s Jalen Watts-Jackson score a buzzer-beating touchdown. Had the Wolverines hung on that day, they may have gone into the Ohio State game (which they lost 42-13) with a record of 11-1. “Close,” I guess.
The following season, Michigan started the year 9-0 and went into Iowa ranked No. 2 in the country. They lost in devastating fashion, 14-13 on a last-second field goal. Two weeks later, facing the Buckeyes, they still controlled their own destiny. A win would have gotten them into the College Football Playoff, but they lost 30-27 in double OT, the closest Harbaugh has come to beating OSU during his tenure.
In 2017 …. Oh, who am I kidding. They’ve gone 27-12 in the three years since, which is not a three-year record that belongs anywhere near the College football Playoff. To be fair to Harbaugh, they came pretty close in 2016, but we all know they would have gotten crushed by Clemson in the Playoff like Ohio State did. If that’s “close,” I’d be very upset if I was a Michigan fan right now.