Joel Klatt: Jim Harbaugh could push Michigan to ‘develop’ while flirting with NFL
Jim Harbaugh and Michigan Wolverines have won 25 of their last 28 games, lost Ohio State in back-to-back years and made the college football playoffs back-to-back, so why is the head coach taking NFL interview — again?
Shortly after Michigan lost TCU in the semifinals of the college football playoffs earlier this month, Harbaugh was interviewed with Denver Broncos for the position of head coach and spoke with Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper about this team coaching vacancy. Last year, Harbaugh interviewed with Minnesota Vikingswhich occurred after Michigan lost Georgia in the CFP semifinals. After not getting a job with the Vikings, Harbaugh received a new contract with Michigan.
Why does he keep flirting with the NFL?
About the latest issue “The Joel Klatt Show,” A mess said he believes Harbaugh is “doing everything he can to push his program at Michigan in a positive direction” to make the university grow with others college football heavyweights. What about NFL interviews? “Well, life is about leverage in a lot of ways,” Klatt said, explaining that Harbaugh could use that interest in the NFL to get Michigan to deepen its investment in college football.
That’s because the sport is changing rapidly, Klatt said.
“We’re at a fork in college football, it’s a crossroads. There was a crossroads in our sport in the early 2000s, and I believe there is a fork, now there is a crossroads,” he said. “These are the main points that you have to decide within the program: are you developing with the sport or not?
“I believe Jim Harbaugh’s flirtation with the NFL is a direct result of his desire to advance Michigan State and its football program in the evolution of the sport.”
Michigan State head coach Jim Harbaugh’s future in college football
Joel Klatt discussed the future of head coach Jim Harbaugh at the University of Michigan.
So what will it look like?
“Get additional commitment in terms of investment in personnel. Get more committed to the investment in the team and what happens with the NIL, because the fact remains, if you look at the recruiting rankings, they weren’t as good as you. probably to be expected for a team that just finished with the second-best record in college football in the last 18 months,” Klatt said. “Well, that’s partly because Michigan, in a lot of ways, likes to rely on its reputation and its tradition, which are huge; is the winningest program in college football history. I understand. I’ve been to Michigan a lot.
“And yes, you can and should build on the tradition of your program, but that being said, one of the reasons Michigan went through what they did the last 15 years before Jim Harbaugh came to Ann Arbor was because , that at the last bend they didn’t invest like other people.”
Harbaugh, who played quarterback at Michigan from 1983-86, took over as head coach in 2015. In eight years, Michigan went 74-25 overall Big Ten and reaching the College Football Playoff in each of the last two seasons. In the eight seasons prior to Harbaugh’s arrival, Michigan was 55-46 overall.
The Wolverines went 13-1 this season, going undefeated in the regular season and winning Purdue in the Big Ten Championship.
Michigan was a well-oiled machine on both sides of the ball. He averaged 458.8 yards and 40.4 points per game, every second in the Big Ten, while relying on the run; Corum and Donovan Edwards combined for 2,454 yards and 25 touchdowns on the ground.
Michigan, on the other hand, has given up just 277.1 yards (second in the Big Ten) and 13.4 points (third) per game. In 2021, the Wolverines were top five in the conference in all four categories.
Klatt believes Harbaugh has a good understanding of the future of the sport.
“Now you have to be ahead of individual player autonomy and you have to be in line with where it’s going,” Klatt said. “Both teams and programs to do develop, they will be the ones who will rule the sport for the next 10, 15 and 20 years. And those who don’t, who just stick to their traditions, will be left behind, so Jim Harbaugh knows that. He’s a really smart guy and I’m not sure he likes NIL, but guess what? He knows this is an important moment in college football.
“He knows what it took to get to this point where they’ve made two straight playoff appearances. He knows what it takes to beat Ohio State twice. And he wants assurances that we’re going to invest in Michigan to beat it forward and grow with the sport, not fall behind the sport.”
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