What’s wrong with Michigan? And what does the future hold for Jim Harbaugh?

  • College football reporter.
  • Joined ESPN.com in 2008.
  • Graduate of Northwestern University.

  • ESPN staff writer
  • Joined ESPN in 2011
  • Graduated from Central Michigan

Believe it or not, this is Year 6 for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. Not too long ago, Michigan fans felt they had the guy who would surely bring the program back to its glory days.

Harbaugh arrived with an understanding of the program and a winning pedigree. But Michigan’s dreams of competing for conference championships, reinvigorating the quarterback tradition and finally getting the best of rival Ohio State haven’t become reality.

Harbaugh is 1-6 at home against the Buckeyes and in-state rival Michigan State, and he’s 0-5 overall against Ohio State since taking over at Michigan. Outside of 2016, when the Wolverines lost to the No. 2-ranked Buckeyes in double overtime, Michigan hasn’t really been in contention for anything significant. The Wolverines are 0-10 as an underdog under Harbaugh, and they have now started to lose games when favored.

Michigan is currently 1-2 following consecutive losses to Michigan State and Indiana. The Wolverines are scheduled to host No. 13 Wisconsin on Saturday, and still have games against improved Maryland and Rutgers squads, a Penn State team that has won two of the teams’ past three meetings, and No. 3 Ohio State on Dec. 12. ESPN’s FPI favors Michigan in just two of its remaining five games.

Despite the bleak outlook, Harbaugh has been upbeat.

“I really like the team we have, how hard they play,” he said Monday. “[I] want to see them play, want to give everything I can, every bit of energy and coaching, and so do all of our coaches, into those guys.”

Michigan fans are having a hard time matching Harbaugh’s enthusiasm. They’re anxious for results, especially five-plus years into a coaching tenure that was supposed to transform the program. We spoke to sources in and around Michigan about why the program seems to be headed in the wrong direction, and what the future holds for Harbaugh at his alma mater.

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