Jim Harbaugh By the Numbers

Now that Jim Harbaugh is officially the head coach at Michigan, everyone’s speculating about the future of Wolverine football. Some think UM will supplant Ohio State, Michigan State, and Wisconsin as the flag bearer for the conference, while others remain skeptical.

To be honest: there are plenty of arguments on both sides. Here’s what the numbers say on the subject:

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THE GOOD

1 – The number of BCS bowl appearances Stanford made under Harbaugh. It’s also the number of conference games he lost at San Diego (15-1), and the number of Super Bowl appearances he had at San Francisco.

2 – The number of conference championships Harbaugh won as a college head coach (San Diego in 2005 and 2006). In addition, it’s the number of NFC West championships he captured during his tenure in the NFL with the 49ers.

3 – The number of appearances San Francisco made in the NFC Championship Game under Harbaugh’s watch. It’s also the number of times he beat USC (3-1 record) and the number of bowl bids Stanford has earned since he left, indicating that he has what it takes to build a solid foundation for years to come.

4 – The number of net victories (8-5 to 12-1) between Harbaugh’s third year at the Farm and his fourth season. This suggests that if he’s given enough time, he’ll have the Wolverines in contention for the Big Ten title and a berth in the College Football Playoff.

5 – The number of head coaches from the Harbaugh coaching tree (David Shaw, Willie Taggart, Scott Shafer, Brian Polian, and Derek Mason).

17 – The number of years it took for San Francisco to make it back to the Super Bowl. If that doesn’t speak volumes about Harbaugh’s ability to get the job done at football’s highest level, what does?

THE BAD

0 – The number of games he’s won against current Big 12 opponents (0-1 vs. Oklahoma, 0-2 vs. TCU). It’s also the number of conference championships he’s won at the FBS level, which is substantially less than Urban Meyer and Nick Saban, whom everyone is comparing him to.

1 – The number of victories (1-3) he posted against Oregon at Stanford.

4 – The number of the net increase in losses for San Francisco between 2013 and 2014. While these struggles weren’t necessarily Harbaugh’s fault, they do suggest that an occasional hiccup-type season is possible every now and then (as they do for virtually every other college coach).

5 – The number of wins Stanford had over rivals Oregon, California, and Notre Dame under Harbaugh’s leadership.

7 – The number of losses he had against the same three opponents. If Harbaugh’s going to succeed at Michigan the way he did in all of his other previous stops, he’s got to do a better job in rivalry games.

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NUMBERS AT MICHIGAN WORKING AGAINST HARBAUGH

3 – The number of times Michigan has beaten Ohio State, Michigan State, and Wisconsin in the last six years (combined record: 3-14). It will be impossible to capture a conference title unless the Wolverines start winning these contests on a more regular basis.

6 – The difference in the number of wins between Brady Hoke’s first season in Ann Arbor and his last one. While some recruiting services claim that Hoke recruited well, the dropoff in the record suggests that Harbaugh will face the same type of challenges at Michigan as he did back at Stanford in 2007.

8 – The number of games in which the Wolverines ran for 100 yards or fewer in the past two seasons. This re-iterates the point above that Harbaugh will have his work cut out for him to install the type of rushing attack that worked so well for him at San Diego, Stanford, and San Francisco.

11 – The number of years it’s been since the Wolverines won a Big Ten title outright (2003).

17 – The number of years since Michigan won the Rose Bowl. In addition, it was the last time the Wolverines captured the national championship. (UM shared the title with Nebraska.)

124 – Michigan’s ranking in turnover margin in 2014 (-1.33 per game).

About Terry P. Johnson

Terry Johnson is the Associate Editor for The Student Section. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation.

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