Edson: Harbaugh Can’t Handle The Truth
Jim Harbaugh couldn’t handle the truth.
Minutes after his Michigan football team had been ripped by Ohio State 56-27 on Saturday – making him 0-for-5 against the Buckeyes – a reporter asked Harbaugh the question that was on everyone’s mind: “…Is is a talent gap, is it a preparation gap, is it a coaching gap, what is the biggest difference between you and Ohio State at this point?”
A truthful and upfront high school or college coach would have said one word: “Talent.”
Instead, Harbaugh was defensive… the first time the Wolverines had shown some defense all day.
“I’ll answer your questions, not your insults,” he shot back at the reporter.
To the reporter’s credit, he insisted he wasn’t being insulting, only pointing out that the Wolverines had surrendered more than 1,000 yards and 118 points to Ohio State over the last two years.
So Harbaugh smugly gave him the patented answer: “They played good… They played better today.”
You’re now 0-5 against the Buckeyes and 2-11 against Top Ten ranked teams.
So I think if you’re getting paid $9 million a year to make your program a national contender, you owe your fans and your university a little more than a flippant answer.
That’s OK… because we already know the answer.
Ohio State is simply a better football program than Michigan’s right now. And it has been for years. The Buckeyes have won 14 of the last 16 meetings.
The difference in the program is this: Ohio State recruits superior athletes. The Buckeyes are in a league with Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Georgia and the other consistent national contenders.
Many people point to Ohio State’s skill players as the difference. I don’t. Raised by a coach who stressed fundamentals, I saw the Buckeyes dominating Michigan at the line of scrimmage, especially when they were on offense.
That doesn’t mean Ohio State doesn’t have great skill players – they do. But their offensive and defensive lines deserve just as much credit.
As for Harbaugh and Michigan fans, it might be time to readjust their expectations.
This isn’t a program that is going to contend for a national championship anytime soon. It’s a building process and the first goal is to win a Big Ten championship. Even that will take some time.
It remains to be seen whether Harbaugh will stick around for the needed rebuild. He can get it done as soon as he learns to handle the truth.
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.