Saturday, December 12, 2015

Contrasting Jim Harbaugh and Bo Schembechler

The regular season for the University of Michigan football team has ended. Let’s compare and contrast Bo Schembechler’s first year season to Jim Harbaugh’s first year season. It’s relatively easy to point out that Bo was the winningest head coach in Michigan football history with a 194-48-5 record from 1969 to 1989. We can’t, in no uncertain terms, predict, Jim Harbaugh’s future record, nor believe, at this point, whether or not Coach Harbaugh can meet the standard that Bo Schembechler set for winning football. First, Schembechler inherited, from coach Bump Elliott quite a cast of young, talented and athletic footballers. Many of those recruits became All-Americans, including Tom Curtis, Jim Mandich, Henry Hill, Dan Dierdorf, Billy Taylor, Reggie McKenzie, Thom Darden, Mike Taylor, and Mike Keller and many more were also drafted to play professional football. In fact, All-American Dan Dierdorf was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. However, coach Bump Elliott’s team in 1968 was demolished and embarrassed by Ohio State in the final game of that season. Despite that whipping, Coach Elliott’s team finished that 1968 season with an 8-2 overall record. Newly hired coach Bo Schembechler, with Elliott’s cast of characters, molded, and solidified that team into such cohesiveness that the Michigan Wolverines spanked the heavily favored, undefeated and ranked number one Ohio State Buckeyes on November 22, 1969 in front of 103,588 fans. Do not forget that Schembechler’s 1969 team lost regular-season games to a ranked Missouri team and to Michigan State. But make no mistake about it, the die, imprint or formula was established, and the transformation of Michigan football began and took off like a powerful space rocket headed for unknown out of this world galaxies. On the other hand, Jim Harbaugh inherited, from Coach Brady Hoke, a Michigan team that had a 5-7 record in 2014. Even though they had seven losses, some said that they had a group of pretty decent players on defense. In fact, cornerback, Jourdan Lewis, this year, was elected to be a first-team All-American by USA Today. Will other Harbaugh’s inherited players become All-Americans, drafted and play in the NFL or become NFL Hall of Famer’s? It is too soon to tell as to which coach inherited the better athletes. A prediction for what it’s worth, is that Harbaugh’s inheritance will come up short, as far as football talent. Despite that potential fact, Harbaugh’s 2015 team attained a 9-3 record with losses to ranked Utah, and to college football playoff bound Michigan State University and to just missing the final four cut Ohio State University. We may not be able to conclude, at this juncture, whether Harbaugh’s first year as Michigan’s head coach was as successful as Bo’s first year as Michigan’s head coach. According to Coach Harbaugh, he reported that before he became head coach, the Wolverines were headed in the wrong direction. And now, the 2015 team stopped that momentum and the train is now picking up steam and heading on a trajectory that would bring a smile to Bo’s face from his lofty position. Without a doubt, we can all agree that coach Harbaugh is a masterful coach, acquires outstanding staff and is supreme when it comes to recruiting. To be continued.

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