As I exited Spartan Stadium following Michigan's 37-33 loss on the road to Michigan State, I found myself only feeling slightly upset. Where I would normally be experiencing intense levels of anger following such a disappointing loss, I found myself relatively calm - almost as if the anger had now been replaced with an acceptance.
What Michigan fans experienced on Saturday was nothing new. In fact, Saturday's collapse in East Lansing was the perfect microcosm of Jim Harbaugh's four-step process at Michigan to this point:
- Beat who you're supposed to beat
- Go .500 against equal or better teams
- Lose to Ohio State
To be fair, U-M's struggles began long before Jim Harbaugh was anointed the savior of Michigan football. Former head coach Rich Rodriguez Rodriguez finished his Michigan coaching career 0–3 against Ohio State and 0–3 against Michigan State, along with the lowest winning percentage (.405) of any coach in the history of the program. Though Brady Hoke fared slightly better, he finished his Michigan coaching career with a combined 2-6 record against both Michigan State and Ohio State.
Combined, Harbaugh's predecessors went a whopping 2-12 against Michigan's biggest rivals during a seven year stretch.
Though things have improved slightly under Harbaugh's watch, he's still a combined 3-9 against Michigan State and Ohio State, 0-2 against current MSU head coach Mel Tucker, 0-1 against current OSU head coach Ryan Day and now 0-9 against AP top 15 opponents on the road.
Defenders of Jim Harbaugh will point to a 69% winning percentage and one of the better overall records in the Big Ten conference since his arrival in 2015. They're right, those are good things. However, most of these folks fail to realize that nobody is debating whether or not the Michigan football program is good. Given all of the resources available at the University of Michigan, the Wolverines could skip the entirety of their off-season training program and likely still be a good football program by the time fall rolls around.
The debate is not about whether or not the Michigan Wolverines are good. They are - and they have been for quite some time. The debate is now about whether or not 'good' is good enough? Objectively speaking, 7-1 is a good record. On the other hand, ask a Michigan fan how good a 7-1 record feels this morning.