Obviously there's more than one person that wants Jim Harbaugh to remain Michigan's coach, but the group definitely seems to be shrinking and is certainly smaller than it was a year or two ago. Furthermore, it's minuscule compared to where it was when he was hired. The group seems to be losing members with every passing minute as everyone waits to see if Harbaugh will sign an extension or take a job in the NFL.
I've been pretty clear on my stance. I think it's time for a change. It's nothing personal against Harbaugh as a man and I don't have an agenda. I simply don't think he's been good enough during his six years as Michigan's head coach. We all know the numbers — 0-5 against Ohio State, 3-3 against Michigan State, 1-4 in bowl games, no Big Ten titles, no playoff appearances and really, nothing of any real significance if we're being honest with ourselves. To me, that doesn't warrant an extension heading into year seven.
Yet here we are, waiting for Harbaugh to sign an extension as he waits on an NFL job that may never come. Some people find that unacceptable, but not everyone.
Not many Michigan fans know much about Jeffrey Persi yet. The 6-7, 302-pounder will be heading into his redshirt freshman season next fall and looks like a future starter at left tackle. Jeffrey's father, Jeff, is obviously dialed in when it comes to the Harbaugh situation and what's going on at Michigan.
I have a previous relationship with Jeff from covering his son as a recruit. It's not a deep connection but we've communicated in the past. He follows me on Twitter and has seen everything I've said about Michigan, Harbaugh and the performances. He knows how critical I've been. Yet we were able to have a solid conversation last night about his son, Harbaugh and the direction of the program.
"We have been in continuous contact with Coach Harbaugh and have an understanding of what’s going on and all the critics who’ve doubted him and his return," Persi said. "I know [he's looking around]. He’s doing what he needs to do and is steering clear of all conflicts."
This confirms what I already knew and also supports that Harbaugh is in contact with at least some of his team during all of this. I know for a fact not everyone is in the loop, but the Persi's are. Being in the loop, gives Jeff an opinion that I respect, even if I don't agree with the overall conclusion.
"I certainly hope for the kids' sake that [Harbaugh] is [back]," Persi said. "Of every man I met along the recruiting trail, I sincerely hope it’s Harbaugh who’s leading my son for the next few years.
"He’s taking a bunch of heat from the fan base, and I get keeping track of the wins and losses, but when it comes to the best coach to lead my son, he’s still my choice."
It's goes beyond just Harbaugh for Persi as well.
"There’s a bunch of armchair quarterbacks out there," he said. "I believe Harbaugh has what’s needed if he can break out of the handcuffs that bind him. You know his past coaching styles. Do these last two years really look like they’re his choice? We’ll choose an unshackled Harbaugh to lead this team and get our boy ready for life."
I'm not sure what handcuffs are binding him and I don't know what isn't Harbaugh's choice, and we didn't get into the specifics of that, but if a parent of a player feels that way, I'll at least consider the opinion.
I'm certain not all parents feel the same way Persi does. We've seen other parents speak out against Harbaugh and Michigan in a public forum. But I do know that some parents agree with Persi, too. Michael Barrett's father has been outspoken towards me specifically on Twitter on several occasions. It's never been heated or nasty, but you can tell he doesn't like the level of Harbaugh criticism, which is totally fine. He's entitled to that opinion and again, his child is playing for the man. That's worth something.
At the end of the day, I think it's time to move on from Harbaugh. But Persi's angle is one I never spent much time thinking about. I don't have a son on the roster. I recognize that for Persi and his family, and everyone else in their shoes, it is bigger than football. Fans forget that all the time and as a member of the media, it's not really something I focus on much either.
I'm not wavering from what I think should happen. But I'm also not going to discredit people who want Harbaugh to stay, especially if their son bleeds, sweats and cries in a uniform for the man.