Herbstreit: Harbaugh's Michigan Tenure Not A Failure

Kirk Herbstreit believes that Jim Harbaugh and Michigan are "close to getting to where they want to be"

Tiki and Tierney
December 10, 2018 - 11:12 am

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There are certain people who think Jim Harbaugh’s tenure at Michigan has been a failure. Kirk Herbstreit is not one of those people.

“I don’t look at it as a failure,” Herbstreit said on Tiki and Tierney. “You might say that he didn’t beat Ohio State, so it’s a failure. They are still a team that I think is close to getting to where they want to be.”

On the one hand, Michigan has won 10 games in three of Harbaugh’s four seasons. On the other hand, Harbaugh has never won his division, much less the Big Ten, and has never reached the College Football Playoff, much less won a national championship.

“They have to continue to adjust,” Herbstreit said. “Their scheme defensively – it’s old-school Mickey Andrews. They play man-to-man every snap. You don’t ever see that in college football. Well, it works in about 10 or 11 of the games that they play, and then they run into Dwayne Haskins and an offensive line that can protect and a lot of crossing routes with a lot of speed, and Ohio State looked like an NFL team just throwing it around.”

Haskins finished 20-of-31 for 396 yards and six touchdowns in a 62-39 win over Michigan on Nov. 24. It was the most points the program had ever allowed in regulation.

Still, Michigan has a chance to win 11 games for the first time since 2011.

“If they beat Florida, that’s 11-2 and a New Year’s Six bowl win,” Herbstreit said. “I’m not saying all is well. I’m just saying (it’s not a failure).”

Ohio State meanwhile, hired Ryan Day as Urban Meyer’s successor. Meyer will retire after the Rose Bowl.

“I think it was a no-brainer,” Herbstreit said. “Urban, I think, for the last five weeks knew what he was going to do. Gene Smith clearly knew as well. They made a move immediately.”

Life would be considerably easier for Day if Haskins returns to Ohio State for one more season, but that appears unlikely.

“Because of the quick release and the accuracy and the way the college game is filtering into the NFL game, I think if he went to the right system, he could have a lot of success,” Herbstreit said of Haskins. “I think he needs another year. I’m not just saying that as an Ohio State guy. I think he needs another year to continue to get a firm grasp of reading, processing, delivering the ball, having an answer from A, B, to C – he can still grow in that area. I think Sam Darnold would have benefited from another year of being able to process coverage and come off of that primary receiver. 

“So I think he could benefit, but it wouldn’t shock me the way these college guys are in such a rush to get to the NFL and get that money,” Herbstreit continued. “I get that there’s a lot of money, but I also think at that position it’s better to continue to refine your skills so when you get to that league, you’re ready to step in and play right away and play well.”