|Jim Harbaugh (AP)|
When asked about the hiring of Jim Harbaugh as head coach of his alma mater, the University of Michigan, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady uttered a statement that unfortunately has become the common sentiment of most supporters of the Wolverines.
"Hopefully we can figure out how to beat Ohio State," Brady said during Super Bowl XLIX Media Day in Phoenix.
Although finding a way to "beat Ohio State" is always important for the program, their top priority right now should be finding out how to just qualify for the postseason.
Fans need to allow Harbaugh some time to turn their program around, something that Brady and many other supporters of Michigan do not seem to be affording their new coach.
I believe they are overestimating the power of their new boss.
Michigan fans are comparing the hiring of Harbaugh to the one of Urban Meyer at Ohio State three years ago. They believe that Harbaugh's impact in Ann Arbor will be as immediate as Meyer's was in Columbus, when he led the Buckeyes to a 12-0 campaign during his first season.
But the resumes just aren't the same ... in any way, shape or form.
When Meyer was hired at Ohio State, he had already won two national championships at Florida, and coached Utah to an undefeated season and a Fiesta Bowl win — the first ever BCS bowl victory by a non-AQ school. His overall head coaching record prior to arriving in Columbus was 104-23 (.819), with a 7-1 count in bowl games, including 4-0 in BCS contests.
Harbaugh, on the collegiate level, hasn't had anywhere near the success or impact as Meyer had prior to getting his job at OSU. While Meyer had success turning around losing collegiate programs almost immediately, Harbaugh struggled in his first three years at Stanford (2007-09) — his only FBS head coaching gig.
Harbaugh led the Cardinal to a 17-20 record his first three seasons in Palo Alto, and lost the only bowl game he had guided them to in those years — a defeat against unranked Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl. His fourth season at Stanford was his best by far, as the Cardinal went 12-1 and defeated Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Side note: that 12-1 bowl-winning squad was led by quarterback Andrew Luck.
Following that bowl victory against the Hokies, Harbaugh left Stanford for the NFL's San Francisco 49ers, where he did have success his first three seasons, but was unable to capture a championship with the club.
This past season, Harbaugh led the Niners to an 8-8 campaign. They failed to qualify for the postseason, leading to a mutual parting with the franchise.
Now Michigan fans are hailing Harbaugh as their savior, and he may be just that. However, it may not be as quickly as they are hoping.
First, I don't see an Andrew Luck on the current Michigan roster. Secondly, he still has a roster which consists of talent that couldn't garner enough wins to qualify for a bowl game. The same roster which lost by at least two touchdowns to Notre Dame, Utah, Minnesota, Michigan State and Ohio State.
The expectations need to be tempered in Ann Arbor. The supporters of the program need to understand that Harbaugh isn't Urban Meyer or Nick Saban. He doesn't have rings on his fingers to dazzle recruits. It is going to be a process.
To get to where Michigan fans are expecting the Wolverines to be, it's going to take a few 5-star recruits to make it happen. Unfortunately, Harbaugh is struggling right now just trying to land 3-stars in Ann Arbor.
So, before the Wolverines and their faithful hope to "beat Ohio State" ...
Find a way to beat Maryland and Rutgers first.