Bacon: Harbaugh's Leash Is As Long As He Wants It To Be

Author Joined The DA Show To Discuss Wolverines' Future

The DA Show
September 03, 2019 - 12:01 pm

Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines are sitting comfortably among college football's elite teams. 

Ranked 7th in the nation, Michigan opened its season on Saturday, defeating Middle Tennessee 40-21. They're expected to contend for a spot in the College Football Playoff after returning most of its offense and a stout defense. Harbaugh, however, has been subjected to concerns over his job security.

John U. Bacon, author of Overtime, which takes an in-depth look at Michigan football, tells The DA Show that all of the talk regarding Harbaugh being on the "hot-seat" isn't anything to pay significant attention to.

"The national pressure is immense," Bacon said on Tuesday. "Obviously the national media are all saying "do or die" and so on. But locally, the vote is 1-0 AD Warde Manuel is squarely in Jim's corner. He's not wiggling even a little bit. They get along great. This is where Michigan arrogance can bite you in the backside, if not Harbaugh, who exactly? Are you going to find a better coach?

"This guy has succeeded at San Diego, Stanford, the 49ers. He got the team back from a five-win season to 10-win season in Ann Arbor. Has not beaten the Buckeyes is the one big dent in the armor. But if you change horses now, did you not pay attention to the previous ten years? You start the whole thing over, which is not the way to do it. Nationally, he may be on the hot seat; but locally, he's not."

Harbaugh is winless in four meetings against Ohio State. Like most rivalries, Michigan's annual meeting against the Buckeyes is one that is circled on just about everybody's calendars throughout the season. The closest that the 55-year-old came to defeating Ohio State was a double-overtime loss in 2016 — the Buckeyes won 30-27. The two teams meet each other on Nov. 30. Don't expect Harbaugh to be pushed out the door if his winless streak against the Buckeyes reaches five years. 

"I think the leash is as long as he wants it to be in Ann Arbor," Bacon said. "He's getting paid well. The team is winning 10 games most seasons, academically they're top five. If Michigan fans claim these things matter then they should matter. I think what the job can become is unpleasant if you keep on losing to Ohio State.

"At that point, maybe the NFL looks better. They don't have alumni in the NFL, no grades in the NFL, that's an easier job in some ways. But you're right; the job is his as long as he wants. It's worth noting that his parents, who lived in Milwaukee, did not move to Baltimore with John or Georgia with their son-in-law. They moved to Ann Arbor in the same plot of land as the Harbaughs themselves. That, I don't think, a temporary move." 

Click below to listen to Bacon's interview in its entirety.