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Fact or Fiction: Michigan could do better than Jim Harbaugh

National recruiting director Mike Farrell and national recruiting analyst Adam Gorney tackle three topics daily and determine whether they believe the statements or not.


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1. Michigan could do better than Jim Harbaugh.

Jim Harbaugh
Jim Harbaugh (AP Images)

Farrell’s take: FACT. Most people say, “Well, they can’t do any better” when talking about Jim Harbaugh and his new deal at Michigan. I say that’s crap. Harbaugh is a good coach but to think that things will magically improve and they will surpass Ohio State in the Big Ten is crazy.

It hasn’t happened yet, so why would it now as the Buckeyes continue to recruit and develop at a higher level? There is a coach out there, somewhere, who would add energy and excitement to this Michigan program and the Wolverines just haven’t tried to find him. They are playing it safe.

Gorney’s take: FICTION. I’m probably in the minority here, but in Harbaugh’s first five seasons, Michigan has won 10 games three times, nine once and eight once. I’m throwing out this abbreviated season because it was just a disaster all around because of COVID-19 and other issues.

If the measure of Harbaugh’s success is beating Ohio State and winning national titles, then Michigan fans are setting him - or any other coach - up for failure. The Buckeyes have won 17 of the last 19 meetings so any recruit who has seen this rivalry in action during their lifetime has seen complete Ohio State domination. That’s tough to sell when Ohio State and Michigan are battling for some of the same recruits.

And Michigan in the modern era has never routinely won national titles. The Wolverines have been close but this idea that the Wolverines are one coach (Harbaugh or anybody else) or a few plays away is a fallacy. Absolutely, a lot needs to be fixed at Michigan and I can understand how Harbaugh is frustrating to deal with, but a new regime does not guarantee better results.


2. Marcus Freeman can take Notre Dame to the title.

Marcus Freeman
Marcus Freeman (USA Today)

Farrell’s take: FICTION. I love this hire as the former four-star linebacker did amazing things with Cincinnati as its defensive coordinator. And I think Marcus Freeman will recruit better defensive players — longer and faster guys for the Fighting Irish.

But Notre Dame's issue is on offense for the most part and an elite quarterback doesn’t appear to be walking through the door. The Irish also struggle with speed on the outside. The defense has been good and can get better, but the offense is what continues to hold Notre Dame back.

Gorney’s take: FACT. This is a phenomenal hire and one of the things Freeman will do once he really gets started at Notre Dame is to recruit some high-level four- and five-star prospects to South Bend. That will make the Irish defense even more potent, give the offense more control over the football.

Notre Dame has knocked on the door of the national title numerous times. Once ND gets to the playoff, though, it gets blown out, but a tougher defense coupled with fixing some offensive issues could be the ticket. Notre Dame needs an elite quarterback and big-time playmakers at receiver. Every other piece is there. My one concern with Freeman is that he’s so good, how long could he be in South Bend before his own head coaching job becomes available?


3. Jarrett Guarantano will have success at Washington State.

Jarrett Guarantano
Jarrett Guarantano (AP Images)

Farrell’s take: FACT. Watch Jarrett Guarantano put up big numbers next season. He has always had talent, but the Vols' offensive scheme and the way he was developed there were less than stellar. Guarantano will have more success in an offense where things are spread out a bit more, he can get the ball out of his hands quicker and even run a little bit. Success, of course, is relative but I’ll bet he has a better season than he ever had in Knoxville if he becomes the starter.

Gorney’s take: FACT. Guarantano finished near the bottom of the SEC passing categories as he threw only six touchdowns this season, fewer than Georgia’s Stetson Bennett who got benched and just as many as Mississippi State’s K.J. Costello, who also got replaced.

It was a frustrating career for the former high four-star in Knoxville, who had some bright spots but was mainly inconsistent and he was not surrounded with elite playmakers. He could have a resurgence at Washington State, which is looking for more balance under coach Nick Rolovich, but the Cougars will still throw the ball. Guarantano could be very good in Pullman with one caveat: He has to beat out talented Jayden de Laura for the job first.