I've been trying to pinpoint the exact moment that I realized that the Jim Harbaugh Experience was doomed to ruin and failure.
I'll admit to initially being intoxicated by Harbaugh's abject weirdness when he was hired; I may not have thought that the guy was going to kick off a second Ten Year War, but I figured that the worst case scenario was that Michigan football would merely be Good and kind of just hover around a Penn State level for the foreseeable future (which, given this past weekend, I guess kind of happened).
But then... the losses. To basically every team of note, for years. After the Buckeyes shoved the Wolverines into a 62-39 locker in 2018 I crowed about how Michigan was no longer a credible threat to Ohio State, but that was more a function of how awesome OSU was versus how abjectly terrible that team up north would become.
Enough is enough! pic.twitter.com/5DHEmmwLPm— Brian Griese (@briangriese) November 29, 2020
As far as I can tell, the earliest that I was able to read the writing on the wall was last September after a particularly bad Michigan loss to Wisconsin. On paper it didn't look horrible, but I had a distinct moment of epiphany during the game in which angels wearing shoulder pads and eye black descended from college football heaven and informed me that Jim Harbaugh had stopped trying, was not going to start any time soon, and things were going to get a lot worse.
I have said it multiple times at this point, but I'll repeat it again for the back rows: Jim Harbaugh should be fired right now, but please don't let that distract from the fact that he should have been fired several weeks ago.
Penn State, without its top three running backs, has 116 rushing yards and is averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Entered the game averaging 139 yards and 3.4 yards per carry.— Orion Sang (@orion_sang) November 28, 2020
This is true! Penn State, a bad team that's missing literally like nine starters or major contributors they expected to have at the beginning of the season, still won 27-17 because Michigan football is bad and dumb. The Wolverines didn't even manage 300 yards of offense against the Nittany Lions, in no small part because they have literally one consistently decent skill player and that's about it.
Cade McNamara looked fine until his throwing shoulder got crunched into the field turf; he made a go of it but ultimately took himself out of the game. Which is probably the smartest thing I've seen a Michigan player do this season, because while getting injured paying for Michigan in 2020 really sucks, getting injured and then choosing to potentially get injured even worse while under the auspices of Jim Harbaugh and company is kind of unforgivably dumb. Long story short, Michigan had 112 yards of passing on 13 completions over 28 attempts.
Michigan's running game seems to have finally decided on Hassan Haskins as their featured back, which would be an interesting decision if I thought that it'd make any difference at all. He had over 100 yards rushing for the second game in a row, which is a little like popping a wheelie in your back yard with nobody else around to see you do it.
Penn State was able to cobble together three pretty good drives and that's it. But that's also all they needed. Granted, Michigan's defense is hurting and young-ish, but they couldn't stop a sneeze at this point. Top to bottom this is a Charmin-soft team, and it all starts with the head coach.
If you decide to watch a Michigan game and burn three and a half hours of your life that you'll never get back, one thing that I think might make it somewhat more bearable is to watch Jim Harbaugh about halfway through the third quarter as he begins to mentally calculate exactly how much money he's getting paid to suck ass at his job.
The energy that he had at the beginning of the game is all but gone, chipped away by hours of failure, and as his body language starts to scream "I WOULD GIVE ANYTHING TO BE AT HOME IN A RECLINER, DRINKING A TEPID GLASS OF WHOLE MILK" I swear that the combined psychic desire of everyone on Michigan's sidelines to kick Harbaugh right in the ass can be felt through your television screen. Here, see for yourself:
There is no utility for Michigan in keeping Harbaugh around for a few more weeks. He's clearly mentally checked out, the team could easily lose their last two scheduled Big Ten games, and getting rid of the dude before having to take part in the B1G's championship week would at least give them a semi-plausible excuse for losing to Illinois or whoever.
The Threat Level is... gosh, I don't know. It's lower than low at this point. Let's call it HOT DOG, because I can't think of a better mascot for Michigan right now than an undercooked tube of compressed entrails.