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#pounditTuesday, September 27, 2022

Articles tagged: Michigan Football

Jim Harbaugh giving thought to NFL return?

Jim Harbaugh in sunglasses

Jim Harbaugh is coming off his best season in the seven years he has been at Michigan, but that is not going to stop the speculation that he could leave the school for another job.

Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported on Tuesday that he has been told by sources at the NFL and collegiate level that Harbaugh is considering a return to the NFL. One source said he believes the talk is “real.”

Michigan went 12-2 this season and won the Big Ten for the first time since Harbaugh was hired in 2015. The Wolverines won the conference by finally beating Ohio State in the regular season and dominating Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game. Michigan then lost to Georgia in the College Football Playoff, but the season is widely considered a success.

There was talk of Harbaugh being on the hot seat after Michigan went 2-4 in a COVID-shortened season last year. The coach then signed a discount contract extension with the school. He could probably secure a raise and extension now after taking the Wolverines to the College Football Playoff. Why, then, would Harbaugh be tempted to leave Ann Arbor?

As Feldman notes, there are two NFL head coaching vacancies that might interest Harbaugh — the Las Vegas Raiders and Chicago Bears. Harbaugh began his coaching career as a quarterbacks coach with the Raiders in 2002. He played for the Bears for seven seasons after they drafted him in the first round in 1987.

Still, the jump seems unlikely. Harbaugh loves Michigan so much that he took a pay cut last year rather than looking for another job. He earned a significant amount of bonus money this season due to the team’s performance, but he donated it all back to Michigan’s athletic department.

NFL teams would certainly have interest in Harbaugh, who went 44-19-1 in in four seasons as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2014. He took the team to the NFC Championship Game three straight years and Super Bowl in 2012. Harbaugh’s resume is plenty impressive.

That doesn’t mean he wants to leave. Harbaugh was swatting away NFL coaching rumors even when things were going poorly at Michigan. After beating Ohio State and reaching the College Football Playoff, he likely feels he has finally gotten over the hump. The same rumors will pop up every year, but we wouldn’t expect Harbaugh to go anywhere.

Photo: Nov 16, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh reacts during the second half against the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Harbaugh not dismayed despite Michigan beatdown

Jim Harbaugh in sunglasses

Jim Harbaugh came up small in a big spot once again on Saturday night.

Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines were completely dismantled by the Georgia Bulldogs, who punched their ticket to the National Championship Game with a 34-10 victory.

After the latest loss, Harbaugh did not sound dismayed.

“It was a great season. To me it’s one of the best seasons in Michigan football history. We were trying to make it greater. We were trying to make it greater tonight. But it was still a great season,” Harbaugh told reporters after the game.

Harbaugh ultimately chalked the blowout up to happenstance. He felt Georgia played their very best game of the season, while Michigan’s players did not. There were no emotions beyond that.

It’s also a time to look forward, Harbaugh said. He believes this is only just the beginning of a Wolverines resurgence.

“It’s still a beginning for this team,” Harbaugh added. “It’ll begin anew this year. Start of a new year.

“Proud of (the team), the way they kept fighting. I could say they were — there’s never any quit in these guys. It’s a very resilient — ton of resolve with this football team, and as I said, to me it feels like a start. Feels like a beginning.”

Sometimes it seems too easy for Harbaugh to brush off failure but perhaps that all comes with a wealth of experience.

Image: Nov 16, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh reacts during the second half against the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Vrabel jabs Michigan in funny tweet

Mike Vrabel on the sidelines

Mike Vrabel got in on the Michigan bashing with a funny tweet on Friday night.

Vrabel, the current Tennessee Titans head coach and a former Ohio State star linebacker, responded to a tweet from one of his Titans players, Taylor Lewan.

Lewan, a former Michigan Wolverine, took a shot at Cincinnati after the Bearcats lost 27-6 to Alabama in the first semifinal game of the College Football Playoff on Friday. Lewan said that Cincinnati was a “sacrificial lamb” for the non-power 5 schools.

Vrabel responded and said make that two lambs.

That was a jab at Michigan, which lost by an even greater margin, falling 34-11 to Georgia.

Well played by Vrabel.

Photo: The Tennesseean-USA Today Network

Michigan’s struggles against Georgia summed up by 1 play

Andrew Vastardis pushed by Travon Walker

Going up against the Georgia Bulldogs turned out to be a terrible matchup for the Michigan Wolverines. One play in particular summed up how badly the matchup was going in the College Football Playoff semifinal between the teams on Friday.

Early in the game, Michigan pulled two of their linemen on a rushing play up the middle. Center Andrew Vastardis, who already had committed a false start, had forward momentum as he came into contact with Travon Walker. Despite having this momentum, Walker sent Vastardis backwards with ease as if he were pushing around a blocking sled.

You knew right then and there that the game wasn’t going to go well for Michigan.

The Wolverines’ game is power football. They were able to overpower 12 opponents, and arguably even Michigan State, this season. But Georgia’s vaunted defensive line was more powerful than them, and that stunted the Wolverines.

The Wolverines are the third-best team in college football. There’s no shame in that. It’s just that the gap between the top two and the rest of the country is vast, and the particular matchup between Michigan and Georgia was a terrible one for the Wolverines.

Georgia fools Michigan with interesting strategy on opening drive

Georgia against Michigan

Georgia sure did its coaching homework in preparing for their College Football Playoff game against Michigan in the Orange Bowl on Friday.

The Bulldogs went 80 yards on seven plays on their opening drive to score a touchdown and take a 7-0 lead against the Wolverines. They completed three passes to tight end Brock Bowers on the drive, including the touchdown.

Where Georgia’s pregame preparation paid off was on the final two plays. On a 3rd-and-1 at the Michigan 11, Georgia came out of a timeout and did some extreme pre-snap line shifting. That left Michigan’s defensive line confused and out of position as Zamir White converted the first down.

Then on the following play, Georgia broke its huddle, quickly ran to the line, and quickly snapped the ball. They ran a play action and Bowers was wide open for the touchdown.

Michigan’s defense does a lot of pre-snap communication and changes. By shifting on the third-down play, and by breaking the huddle and rushing to snap the ball on the following play, Georgia prevented Michigan from being able to do what they like to do.

Jim Harbaugh wears interesting T-shirt ahead of Michigan playoff game

Jim Harbaugh shirt

Jim Harbaugh was seen wearing a very interesting T-shirt ahead of Michigan’s College Football Playoff game against the Georgia Bulldogs.

Michigan’s offensive line won the Joe Moore Award this year, which is handed out to the best offensive line unit in the country.

As the team was given the award, Harbaugh was seen wearing a T-shirt that said “Run The Damn Ball.”

The shirt is written in Michigan’s block yellow letters, all in caps (it’s made by the site Blue By Ninety). There is no confusing the powerful message.

Michigan’s offensive linemen all wore the shirt on Wednesday:

Was Harbaugh wearing that shirt intentionally because it was a nod to his linemen? Or is it because the shirt is a reflection of the Jim Harbaugh winning philosophy? The philosophy worked against Ohio State this year. Maybe Michigan will follow the words in their game against Georgia. Or maybe they’ll fool Georgia and go pass-heavy.

Harbaugh’s already playing mental games with Kirby Smart.

Georgia fans adopt unique Ohio State tradition ahead of Michigan game

Georgia fans cross out M's on signs

Georgia will spend the next several weeks preparing to face Michigan in the College Football Playoff, and Bulldogs fans are already making some serious changes around campus ahead of the big game.

The UGA Spike Squad, a Georgia student fan group, has adopted a long-standing Ohio State tradition ahead of the Bulldogs’ game against Michigan. Like Ohio State students do before facing their biggest rival, the Georgia fans have been going around campus crossing out the letter “M” with red X’s. You can see a few of the many examples below:

Ohio State fans started the tradition years ago. Even some local high schools and elementary schools cross out M’s each year before the Buckeyes take on Michigan.

The Georgia Spike Squad told The Columbus Dispatch that they reached out to “The Block O,” Ohio State’s student section fan group, to run the idea by them.

“We reached out to The Block O (the OSU student section) to see if we could do this without stepping on any toes because we understand this is a big tradition,” the Spike Squad said.

It’s no surprise Ohio State fans were fine with it. Most of them will be huge Georgia fans through New Year’s Eve, as they would love to see Michigan go down — especially after the comment Jim Harbaugh made about their coach. Their interests are very much aligned, so their traditions might as well be, too.

College football writer hammered over Jim Harbaugh tweet

Jim Harbaugh walking

Michigan secured a spot in the College Football Playoff with a blowout win over Iowa on Saturday night. The victory was another huge one for Jim Harbaugh’s legacy, as he proved for a second straight week that he can, in fact, win important games. Now, even writers who ripped the coach before are trying to jump on the bandwagon.

Toward the end of Michigan’s 42-3 dismantling of Iowa, USA Today’s Dan Wolken called it “absolute insanity” that people thought Harbaugh should be fired a year ago.

By sending that tweet, Wolken overlooked one of the most basic rules of the internet — people don’t forget.

In one of his columns last year, Wolken wrote that the Harbaugh era in Ann Arbor is “doomed to mediocrity.” He said Harbaugh and Michigan needed to formulate a plan to part ways before things got ugly. People were more than happy to call Wolken out over the hypocrisy.

Wolken certainly wasn’t the only one who felt Harbaugh had to go. It’s just surprising to see him openly admit that he was among the, as he called them, insane.

Harbaugh has now finally defeated Ohio State and led Michigan to the College Football Playoff. Between the on-field success and recent gesture he made off of it, his popularity at Michigan is through the roof.

Photo: Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh watches warmups before a game against Northern Illinois at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021

Michigan scores 42 points in special tribute to late Tate Myre

Michigan fans

The Michigan football team had a very fateful final point total in their win over Iowa on Saturday in the Big Ten Championship Game.

The Wolverines wore patches for their game against Iowa to honor the late Tate Myre. The patches were in yellow and blue and had Myre’s initials and football number (42) on them.

Myre was a star football player at Oxford High School in Michigan. He died at the age of 16 trying to stop the perpetrator of a fatal shooting at his high school. There were four hearts on the patch representing those who died in the school shooting.

Michigan dedicated their game to Myre and then went out and scored 42 points in a 42-3 win over the Hawkeyes. Their point total matched Myre’s number.

“I think God was with us,” coach Jim Harbaugh said.

Members of the Myre family also served as honorary captains for the game. For at least a few hours, Michigan football may have given the grieving family something nice to celebrate.

Jim Harbaugh has awesome gesture with his Michigan bonuses

Jim Harbaugh in sunglasses

Jim Harbaugh’s approval rating at Michigan is through the roof coming off the team’s huge win over Ohio State, and fans will likely appreciate the coach even more when they hear about the classy decision he has made with his contract.

Harbaugh signed a four-year contract extension with Michigan back in January that includes far less guaranteed money than the top coaches in college football. His guaranteed money for 2021 is $4 million, but he has the ability to earn roughly $4 million more in incentives. Even if he earns all of that money, however, Harbaugh is not planning to keep it.

Harbaugh announced this week that he will give any bonus money he earns back to Michigan’s athletic department. He wants to help alleviate some of the hardships that were caused last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

You could argue that $4 million is more than enough money, but Harbaugh is under no obligation to give anything back. He’s making less than half of what the highest-paid coaches in the country are earning this year despite Michigan being one of the best teams in the country and on the verge of a College Football Playoff berth.

Harbaugh went 11-8 from 2019-2020, which is one of the reasons he took a pay cut. He has proven this season that he probably deserves to be paid more, but he’s giving money back. Between that gesture and the awesome quote he delivered after beating Ohio State, Harbaugh has never been more popular among Wolverines fans.

Photo: Nov 16, 2019; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh reacts during the second half against the Michigan State Spartans at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports