Critics haven’t been quiet about Jim Harbaugh’s coaching successes with Michigan football. But maybe after 2021, the tides are turning, and Harbaugh can prove that he can do what he was brought to Michigan to do.
It all started unranked in preseason, picked to finish fourth in the Big Ten East.
“He’s been through so much,” said Senior defensive end Aidan Hutchinson. “At a university like this, when you don’t have a successful season, like last year being 2-4, there’s a lot of pressure. There’s a lot of pressure on you to win.”
But how it’s going now, Michigan is Big Ten Champions, they beat Ohio State, they’re 12-1, and ranked second in the College Football Playoff, set to play Georgia in the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Eve.
“We give coach all the credit,” said Michigan quarterback Cade McNamara. “He led us here. He truly cares about his players. We know that. This team loves each other, but we love playing for coach Harbaugh.”
“He’s done an amazing job, he’s a great coach,” said Michigan defensive back Brad Hawkins. “I love him. We all want to play for him. We all want him here at Michigan.”
You don’t need the players at a podium telling the media how they love their coach to see that they love their coach. While watching the fourth quarter of the Big Ten Championship game, viewers saw an epic Gatorade bath by the players on Harbaugh.
“He was drenched,” laughed McNamara. “He deserves it. He deserves all the love and I know the boys were super excited that we were able to do that for him.”
The motto of Michigan football is, “those who stay will be champions.” It’s written on their jerseys and on the walls. Now, against No. 3 ranked Georgia, Harbaugh has the chance to do just that: stay and become a champion. In doing so, he will shut the door on those who doubt him and his program.
“It’s an honor to be playing for Coach Harbaugh,” said Hawkins. “Winning for him, fighting for him, we want him here, we want to play for Coach Harbaugh.”
Georgia opened up against Michigan as a 7.5 point favorite, but if this improbable season has proven anything, who know what Michigan football can do when a big opportunity presents itself.