Threat Level Got Citric Acid in Its Eye; You'll Pay for That, Harbaugh

By Johnny Ginter on January 2, 2020 at 7:35 pm

Before Ohio State lost the Fiesta Bowl to Clemson, I was fairly agnostic about whether or not I wanted Michigan to beat Alabama or vice versa.

On one hand, Jim Harbaugh beating Nick Saban is some Little Giants level shit that I would find extremely funny, but on the other, Michigan is dumb and bad and them losing is never not a treasure trove of angst and hot takes from Those Fans Up North. My usual non-OSU rooting philosophy is "whatever would be more funny" but in this case it was a push.

Until the Buckeyes lost. Afterwards my allegiance immediately shifted to the Crimson Tide because a universe in which Ohio State loses to Clemson and Michigan beats Alabama is a cruel one indeed.

Uh oh! Did it happen? Did Michigan do the unthinkable and beat a competent team on a neutral playing field? Did Harbaugh outfox Saban and get a cooler of whole milk poured on his head?


No, of course not. Don't be silly. They lost 35-16 and didn't score a point in the second half.

Thus, from, the Shea Patterson experience is finally over.

“I missed a few throws, and I thought I could have calmed my feet down early on in the first and second drive,” said Patterson ... “I felt like I didn’t make enough plays. Yeah, not my best game.”

Yeah, not your best game. Or best two games. Or best season.

Patterson finished the Citrus Bowl and his career by going 17 of 37 for 233 yards, a touchdown, and two very fantastic interceptions, the last of which floated gently right into the breadbasket of an Alabama defender who seemed more surprised at the interception than Shea was. It was his second sub-50% completion game in a row, as he went 18 for 43 against Ohio State. For the season Patterson also threw eight interceptions, fumbled the ball 12 times, and lost five of them.

bwp bwp

So endeth the line of Patterson, but more importantly, so endeth the idea that Jim Harbaugh is good at any one thing as a coach. Much of the mythology built around the dude came via his work with Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick, and for a Michigan fanbase especially thirsty for quarterback play that approaches something better than "fine, with frequent bouts of stupidity" that was a pretty big selling point.

Welp, that's over with. Harbaugh took a funslingin' good ol' southern boy and turned him into one of those weird robe people dancing with Death at the end of The Seventh Seal.

So I don't really know what's next for the Wolverines. My chief criticism of Michigan throughout 2019 was that they had zero identity, and they go into 2020 with... zero identity.

Actually, that's not fair. "Navel-gazey Willy Loman" is totally an identity:

Fundamentally, though, Michigan is named Clarence and went to Cranbrook. They'll let some guys into school but not other guys. If they're bagging they're the worst school in the world at it since they managed to turn the Michigan money cannon into zero guys ranked higher than 92nd in this class. The culture of the program is such that the starting QB gets called out for golfing too much.

Then they pretend to some sort of nobility. But there's no such thing as halfway crooks.

Alright, last two comments about the 2019 Michigan Wolverines before I force myself to forget that I watched 13 of their crappy-ass games by my own volition.

First, everything stated above by Brian from MGoBlog is both true and false in equal measures. It's true that Michigan football has a pervasive cultural problem; there hasn't been a high standard for excellence in a long time and that shows on the field.

But it is false that Shea playing golf or Michigan's less-than-spectacular recruiting in 2020 means more than Jim Harbaugh's aggressive publicity campaigns, or that the Wolverines have generally outrecruited the likes of Clemson in the last five seasons, or even going as far back as Rich Rodriguez skirting the rules and forcing the program to self-report violations for too many practices a decade ago. They're trying, (and yeah, probably also in many of the same shady ways their horrible jerk opponents are) they're just failing. A lot.

So my second point is that all the ills that afflict the Wolverines in 2020 are curable. It's hard to believe that because their failures stand in stark contrast to the success that Ohio State has had against them and in general, but that's on them; the Buckeyes' success is mostly the result of really great hiring decisions by a brilliant athletic director and a department-wide expectation to win.

Michigan football has gobs of cash, great facilities, and is a nationally recognized brand. Rich Rod, Hoke, and Harbaugh not spinning that into gold or important wins is mostly on them and the people who hired them, not the result of some conspiracy by a cadre led by the University of Phoenix and DeVry to rob them of good players.

That Michigan fans ignore that in favor of "EVERYONE ELSE IS CHEATING!" is exactly why they lose, and why the Threat Level is LOW.

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