Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has signed a four-year extension, a transfer that was met with applause in all of the incorrect locations.

Ohio State trolled the transfer on its social media account with the meme du jour of operating again Trey Sermon. And why not? Nothing has modified. Harbaugh was employed on Dec. 29, 2014. Ohio State beat Oregon for the primary CFP championship two weeks later. Six seasons later, the Buckeyes are taking part in for an additional nationwide title and Harbaugh — who’s 0-5 in “The Sport” — continues to be attempting to shut that hole.

Harbaugh’s rent was met with over-the-top hype, however he has but to fulfill these expectations. The turning level was a 30-27 double-overtime loss to Ohio State on Nov. 26, 2016, a sport outlined by “The Spot.” The Wolverines have by no means actually been shut after that.

MORE: Harbaugh contract extension speak prompts celebration from Ohio State followers

With Harbaugh staying on board, there’s greater than sufficient work to do in home earlier than entertaining that dialog once more.

Why did Michigan keep on with Harbaugh?

Michigan completed 2-Four in 2020. The Wolverines had two gamers obtain honorable mentions on the All-Massive Ten group. Defensive coordinator Don Brown was fired after the protection allowed 34.5 factors per sport.

The underside fell out, and that left Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel, Harbaugh’s teammate in school, with a tricky resolution: Harbaugh reportedly was searching for alternatives as an NFL coach, which makes the choice to supply a low-ball extension much more awkward.

Is it justifiable? Harbaugh is 49-22. That .690 successful share ranks 13th amongst Energy 5 colleges in that stretch, however it’s nonetheless the fifth-best amongst Massive Ten colleges behind Ohio State (68-7), Wisconsin (56-19), Iowa (53-21) and Penn State (53-22).

Sure, Harbaugh has improved this system. Michigan completed 46-42 over a seven-year stretch by way of the tenures of Wealthy Rodriguez and Brady Hoke from 2008-14. However the final six years below Harbaugh weren’t higher than the final six seasons of the Lloyd Carr period, which produced a 56-20 file and a .737 successful share.

Michigan was determined to maneuver on from Carr after the upset loss to Appalachian State in 2007, however this system stays caught in impartial. The Wolverines have not gained a Massive Ten championship since 2004.

Was there a greater various?

If Harbaugh cannot do it, then who can? Michigan message boards have turn out to be fascinated with Iowa State coach Matt Campbell, and with good cause.

Campbell is 35-28 (.556) at Iowa State within the final 5 seasons; Michigan is 39-19 (.672) in that stretch. However the distinction between Ames and Ann Arbor is putting.

Iowa State has a future NFL quarterback in Brock Purdy, an All-American operating again in Breece Corridor and a third-team All-American tight finish in Charlie Kolar. When is the time the Wolverines may say that?

The Cyclones have two wins in opposition to Massive 12 flagships Oklahoma and Texas the final 5 seasons, and Iowa State simply gained its first New 12 months’s Day 6 bowl. The Cyclones will probably be ranked within the prime 10 in most preseason polls subsequent yr, and Campbell will proceed to attract curiosity from main packages if that success continues.

MORE: No Ohio State-Michigan sport is one other mark in opposition to Massive Ten’s brutal 2020 season

The place can Harbaugh enhance now?

Three areas stick out as to why Michigan is slipping, and all of them are tied to that hole with Ohio State:

Sharper recruiting

Harbaugh’s tenure opened with a barn-storming satellite tv for pc camp tour and a lavish “Signing with the Stars” ceremony.

In the meantime, Ryan Day has constructed on the hole City Meyer created by way of recruiting. Ohio State’s common recruiting class the final six cycles ranks at 4.8, with a mean of 4 five-star recruits per class. Michigan ranks at a mean of 11.6, with one five-star recruit per class.

Michigan must get again to recruiting in Ohio, too. In spite of everything, it is the state that produced former Heisman Trophy winners Desmond Howard (1991) and Charles Woodson (1997). Harbaugh himself is from Ohio.

Think about that within the final six cycles, Michigan has landed simply three top-10 recruits from the state of Ohio. The Buckeyes have 27 throughout that stretch, which is to be anticipated. However Notre Dame (4), Kentucky (4), Michigan State (three) and Cincinnati (three) have been simply pretty much as good or higher than the Wolverines in Ohio. 

Harbaugh must recruit higher, and Ohio ought to be an space of emphasis.

QB improvement

The quarterback improvement has by no means taken off — a shock, given Harbaugh is a former NFL quarterback.

By the final six seasons, Michigan’s main passer has averaged 2,211 passing yards with 14.Eight touchdowns and 6.Eight interceptions per season. Even with the 2020 season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic, these numbers merely aren’t sufficient when in a sport predicated on offense.

12 months Chief Yards TDs
2015 Jake Rudock 3,017 20
2016 Wilton Speight 2,538 18
2017 John O’Korn 973 2
2018 Shea Patterson 2,600 22
2019 Shea Patterson 3,061 23
2020 Joe Milton 1,077 4

Michigan can have Milton, Cade McNamara and five-star recruit J.J. McCarthy on the 2021 roster. McCarthy is the third highest-ranked recruit at quarterback for Michigan on 247Sports activities’s database behind Ryan Mallett (2007) and Chad Henne (2004).

Mallett, after all, transferred to Arkansas when Rodriguez was employed. Henne had a implausible profession at Michigan, albeit one which got here with a 0-Four file in opposition to Ohio State. Is McCarthy the long-awaited savior on the place?

Enhanced improvement

It isn’t like Michigan is not producing NFL expertise: The Wolverines have despatched 31 gamers to the NFL Draft since 2016, however that features simply 5 first-round picks in Jabrill Peppers (2017), Taco Charlton (2017), Devin Bush (2019), Rashan Gary (2019) and Cesar Ruiz (2020).

The Buckeyes have 45 NFL Draft picks, and 15 first-round alternatives in the identical stretch.

Have a look at the five-star recruits from each colleges in 2016-17. Ohio State had Nick Bosa, Chase Younger, Jeff Okudah, Baron Browning, Shaun Wade and Wyatt Davis. All of these gamers besides Browning had been SN first-team All-Individuals. Michigan has Gary, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Aubrey Solomon.

Woodson and Meyer addressed these points on the “Massive Midday Kickoff” earlier this season, and people factors ought to be addressed:

That distinction is exhibiting up on the sector now, and the Buckeyes have extra five-star gamers on the way in which.

Can it’s executed?

Harbaugh must take a web page from one other rival to get the Wolverines again on observe. Notre Dame practically fired Kelly after the Irish completed 4-Eight in 2016. That was Kelly’s seventh season.

Kelly, nevertheless, has led a powerful turnaround with a 43-Eight file and two Playoff appearances since. The Irish have churned out All-America candidates on the offensive line, and the protection improved below defensive coordinator Clark Lea, now Vanderbilt’s head coach.

Michigan reportedly has focused Ravens linebackers coach Mike Macdonald as its subsequent defensive coordinator.

Michigan ought to be not less than pretty much as good as Notre Dame, although it could possibly be argued the Irish’s success could be seen in a different way in the event that they needed to clear the Ohio State hurdle within the Massive Ten each season.

Harbaugh nonetheless will be profitable at Michigan. Harbaugh has a mixed file of 9-10 in opposition to Michigan State, Penn State, Wisconsin and Notre Dame. The Wolverines have proven they will compete with these colleges, however now Harbaugh should show he can provide Ohio State an sincere run.

There is no turning again on the extension now. Harbaugh should transfer ahead, and quick.