Ohio State won its eighth-straight over Michigan last weekend, making Jim Harbaugh 0-5 against his biggest rival. No doubt about it, that’s the biggest mark on his record at Michigan.
In the days since the loss, there’s been plenty of debate about where Michigan goes from here and what they have to do to eventually beat the Buckeyes again. ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit shared his thoughts on the future for Harbaugh this week.
On his podcast with Kevin Negandhi, Herbstreit addressed the suggestion that Michigan could fire Harbaugh, calling it “ridiculous.” He then went on to dissect how the coach could close the gap with OSU.
“The idea of firing him is ridiculous,” Herbstreit said. “Who are you going to bring in that has a better feel for what Michigan is about? But I think Jim Harbaugh has to be willing to change who he is. I think he tried that with his offense over the last couple of years, bringing in Shea Patterson, trying to get more spread. Trying to kind of catch up with the way everyone is running is running offenses these days. I don’t know that their offense is the problem. Shea Patterson and those receivers, they’re pretty darn good. I think the issue is clearly the defense. Don Brown has done such a good job in most games they’ve played. They’re shutting people down. They get into that Ohio State game, and the Buckeyes have a plan. They’re just one step ahead.”
After the loss on Saturday, Harbaugh disputed that there even was a gap between his program and Ohio State, simply saying that the Buckeyes were better that day.
Herbstreit isn’t necessarily buying that.
“When you lose the way that you’re losing five straight to Ohio State, it can take the soul of a program out,” he said. “The challenge for Jim and that program is to put that rivalry in its proper perspective, instead of shaking it off. ‘Hey, we’ve got to get better. We’ve got to coach better. We’ve got to recruit better.’ I think it’s not that. It’s so much deeper than that. I keep hearing comments from Ohio State players and coaches where it’s like this rivalry means so much to us. It doesn’t mean something to us this week. We don’t just have this clock running down so the fans can say, ‘Oh look , there’s a clock over there.’ They live it. They do reps in the weight room in February about it. It’s around every room at Ohio State. It’s not for recruiting, and it’s not just to have it.”
Maybe that extra emphasis on “The Game” does make a difference, but there also seems to be something tangible that separates the two teams from a talent and coaching perspective.
It’s up to Harbaugh to try and change that moving forward.
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