Rhetoric be damned, Michigan, Harbaugh begin an era of sky high expectations

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Tomorrow, the pomp and circumstance ends. The lead up to the marriage and all the lovey-dovey crap went on for a while, but the honeymoon is over and tomorrow, you go back to work and start sifting through all those bills that collected in the mailbox while you were gone.

We all get it. Jim Harbaugh wears khakis (and why that’s such an ordeal, I will never know). Apparently, when the going gets tough in the fridge, he’ll eat cereal with Gatorade. Jim Harbaugh is quirky. Cool. It’s time to win games, or if not that immediately, get better.

Much has been made of pretty much everything Jim Harbaugh has done since he came to Michigan. For him, it has to be one part annoying, one part oddly flattering, one part exhausting. In today’s society where if you’re famous and you give the Starbucks barista a hard time, someone’s capturing it on social media, there is no down time in public.

Years ago, as a kid, I met Jim Harbaugh. He was a pro athlete back then, but the enduring memory of that instance was that he was a nice guy, chatting up kids, adults, and what have you when he was with his family, and that probably wasn’t his desired thing at the moment, being the center of attention when with family.

I didn’t ask him for an autograph as cool as it would have been, because even at a young age you should realize people don’t want to be annoyed with signing their name 500 times when with family. Autographs are like beers. One person cracks one open, and all of the sudden everyone in the house has one in hand within five minutes.

Whether Jim Harbaugh wins, loses, or draws, my lasting impression of him will be as a down to earth, decent dude.

All of that said, tomorrow begins a journey that Michigan fans (self included) have been waiting for since Harbaugh called out Michigan’s academics years ago, and then became one of the best college coaches in the country a few years after.

To be truly great at anything, you have to do it your own way, and that often involves pissing people off. Suffice to say Harbaugh has done that a time or two in his career.

Michigan meets Utah tomorrow in the first game in the Harbaugh era, as underdogs. When the series was agreed to low these many years ago, no one figured Utah would be favored in any of the games. Hell, no one figured Michigan would be playing Thursday night games either. Such is life.

It’s important to note that Michigan can be much improved starting tomorrow and still lose. Utah is that good. They run, run, and run. They stop the run. They’re experienced and staring down the barrel of a season that could end in competing for a conference title in what looks like the nation’s most brutal conference.

Utah is 20-4 in home openers. They have Devontae Booker, arguably the best running back in college football. They’re deep and experienced on defense. If nothing else, Michigan is the test for them as much as the other way around.

For all that we’ve heard about Jim Harbaugh and the staff they’ve assembled at Michigan, it’s all been leading up to the core reason for his popularity … that he wins games. No one cares if you wear Zubaz pants and slap bracelets on the sidelines so long as you win, and if you lose, it’s just another cog in the machine to jab at.

That’s all it is. Quirk is great when quirk leads to wins. Quirk is an issue when it leads to losses. Just ask Brady Hoke, who didn’t need a headset to be a good coach his first year … but it was a constant tension point among fans as an unnecessary jab once he started losing.

At any rate, Michigan begins a new era, and no matter what happens, they’ll be better. College football is fine no matter who wins or loses, but when the true blue bloods are in the mix, there’s a little more energy about the sport. Harbaugh has brought that to Michigan because he’s a sure thing. The floor is high and the ceiling is astronomical.

Players know it. It’s why Jake Rudock left Iowa for Michigan and from all accounts I gather, will start tomorrow night. It’s why for the most part, transfers were at a low at UM considering the coaching change. It’s why Michigan is recruiting lights out, why games are (honestly) sold out, why Nike is paying through the nose to be on UM apparel, and a million other things.

But as of tomorrow night, the rhetoric stops. The real reason Jim Harbaugh was brought to Michigan begins. And whether Utah stands in the way momentarily for a night or not, the best is yet to come. Just don’t be fooled by all the fun stories. Harbaugh is here to win.

Honeymoons are nice, but the marriage doesn’t last long if the wife and the husband come home and he decides he’s done working and they can let the bills pile up.

 

 

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