How many losses to Ohio State would chase Jim Harbaugh from Michigan?
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If we could actually talk about THE rivalry… Is this Harbaughs last shot at the Buckeyes if he loses to Meyer again?…
— TAZ (@Danakin_Earls) May 14, 2018
Let’s start with the obvious: It would be definitely be in Jim Harbaugh’s long-term best interest to find a way to beat Ohio State this fall. Not only is Harbaugh 0-3 vs. Urban Meyer since taking over at his alma mater, but he’s also fared poorly against Michigan State (1-2) and bowl game opponents (1-2). Despite all the other successes — including the fact that Michigan was essentially a video review away from a shot at a playoff berth in 2016 — the big-game record needs to be better.
But that’s especially so in 2018. Patience is starting to wear thin right now as Michigan’s best chance for success during the Harbaugh era has arrived. The Wolverines return a slew of players from last year’s team, and they added transfer quarterback Shea Patterson — a former 5-star recruit — from Ole Miss. Although the Wolverines have a tough schedule that includes road trips to Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State, they have the potential to compete for a Big Ten title.
All of which is to say that if Meyer finds a way to beat Harbaugh again, it would be a particularly brutal gut punch. If Patterson comes as advertised, this season could be it for him before the NFL (and if he’s not that good, well, that’s not great news for Michigan, either). Defensive end Rashan Gary is a first-round lock, and analysts are predicting plenty more teammates could join Patterson and Gary in leaving early.
With that being said, though, I don’t see Michigan making a move even if the Wolverines continue that troubling trend of losing big games. He’s a really good fit at his alma mater, and there’s always the question of who Michigan would be able to get that’s a sure-fire improvement.
I’m sure the NFL speculation would ramp up, and I suppose it’s possible that Harbaugh could choose to leave Michigan. But if he stays, it should still be a couple more years before things get really sour if the big wins don’t start appearing.
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