Edson: What’s Next for Harbaugh, Patricia?
As the late actor Jimmy Stewart said in the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” – “Hey, what’s happening here. Something screwy is going on!”
Well, how else to you explain a weekend of football where:
* Detroit Lions kicker Matt Prater threw more touchdown passes in a game than Green Bay Packers future Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers?
* The last time the Lions shutout the Packers in Green Bay – 1970 – was the first year I began dating my wife.
* The University of Michigan’s defense, 10-1 and heralded as one of the finest in the land going into the Ohio State game, gave up more than 100 points in its final two games and suffered a 41-15 loss to Florida in the Peach Bowl on Saturday.
So this leads to the question: What does the future have in store for head coaches Matt Patricia and Jim Harbaugh?
Let’s start with Patricia. Maybe Sunday’s win saved his job. That might be stretching it. But the truth is, the Lions went backwards from a year ago. And there were reports this week that Patricia was late to several team meetings during the year. That’s inexcusable.
But Lions owner, 93-year-old Martha Ford, seemed pleased after the win over Green Bay. So maybe she and general manager Bob Quinn will spare Patricia’s job.
The trouble is, as much as a win at Green Bay was needed to end the season on a positive note, the Lions shot themselves in the foot again.
The game was meaningless in the standings. But the win means the Lions moved back three draft spots from No. 5 to No. 8. Hopefully that won’t cost them too much this spring. As it is, leave it to the Lions to even screw that up – with apologies to Jimmy Stewart.
As for the Michigan Wolverines, the faithful fans are starting to get restless. Harbaugh is making between $8-9 million a year. He just finished his fourth year and his record his dismal against Top 10 teams, Ohio State and Michigan State. He hasn’t even won a conference championship yet.
Wolverine fans expect more for that kind of money.
But I happen to think Harbaugh is a good fit at Michigan. He just has to stop being so stubborn and open up the playbook and recruit faster players.
I said the very same thing after the Ohio State loss. I understand that the Wolverines were missing four of their top players in the Peach Bowl. But the play-calling was as predictable as always. And the players didn’t execute when the game was on the line.
My biggest complaint is that you can’t put a lot of stock in the numbers handed out to recruits. We’ve heard over the past 10 years that Michigan has recruited way more 5-star and 4-star recruits than Michigan State. But look at the results of the games between the Wolverines and Spartans over the last 10 years.
Either those recruiting reports are inaccurate or one team is getting coached way better than the other.
So now we’ll let the season settle down. We’ll digest what happened over the weekend and see what Harbaugh and Patricia have to say about their futures… and the futures of their football teams.
Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.