During the week, Land of 10 reporters following the Wolverines answer questions on the minds of Michigan fans. Submit a question or suggest a topic by sending a tweet here to Rachel Lenzi or here to Kevin Goheen. Check back Monday through Friday as we answer the Michigan Question of the Day. Go here to see our previous answers.
With Michigan basketball having more success the last 5 years or so, what pressure does that put on Jim Harbaugh’s back to get a Big Ten title and a playoff berth this year or next? — Zo Eastwood, via Facebook
Zo is not the only Michigan fan to bring up this question, and it came up before coach John Beilein, Moe Wagner and Co. won their second straight Big Ten Tournament basketball title on Sunday with a 75-66 win against Purdue.
— Michigan_3_ (@Michigan_Man_3) March 3, 2018
Last season, Michigan was the No. 8 seed in the tournament but beat No. 9 Illinois, No. 1 Purdue, No. 4 Minnesota and No. 2 Wisconsin to become just the second team in conference tournament history to win four games in four days for the title. The Wolverines were the No. 5 seed this season and pulled off four wins in four days again, this time knocking off No. 12 Iowa, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 1 Michigan State and No. 3 Purdue.
Two wins in two games this season over Michigan State, which won the Big Ten regular-season title, and three straight victories against the in-state rival Spartans are enough to get people comparing the football and basketball programs. Harbaugh is 1-2 against Michigan State on top of being winless in three tries against Ohio State and dropping two of three bowl games.
The Wolverines’ lone football win last season against a team that finished above .500 for the season was at Purdue. The Boilermakers ended the season 7-6 after beating Arizona 38-35 in the Foster Farms Bowl. The Wolverines also became the only one of eight Big Ten teams to lose a bowl game last season when it gave up a 19-3 lead in the second half and lost 26-19 to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.
Does the success of the basketball team add any pressure to Harbaugh and the football program? It’s hard to believe there could be any more pressure on the team and its coach than already is present following last season. Everyone knows what’s up. Harbaugh didn’t return to his alma mater to lead the team to a third- or fourth-place finish in the division, yet that’s exactly where the Wolverines have finished each of his first three seasons.
The 2018 season will be a telling one for Harbaugh. He has shuffled his offensive staff, including the all-but-officially-announced departure of offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Tim Drevno, and the heralded recruiting classes of 2016 and 2017 will be the foundation of the team. There are still questions on the offensive line and at quarterback, and the schedule is unforgiving, but this is a season of opportunity for Michigan and Harbaugh.
He’s not rooting against Beilein and the basketball team. Instead, maybe their success will be contagious.
There’s not any more pressure on Harbaugh because of the success of the basketball team, or the hockey team or any of the school’s other successful sports programs, for that matter. The expectations are already there to win a Big Ten title and compete for a national championship. Look no further than assistant strength and conditioning coach Justin Tress for proof.
— Justin Tress (@tress_justin) March 5, 2018