The Wolverine

2020 Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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6 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2020 FOOTBALL PREVIEW BY AUSTIN FOX T he 2020 campaign will be the sixth for Jim Harbaugh during his time in Ann Arbor, a plateau that only seven previ- ous U-M head coaches have reached in the 140 years that Michigan has been playing football. A coach making it to his sixth season at a single program is oftentimes a sign of suc- cess and stability at the respective school, which is exactly the case for Harbaugh at U-M when considering the 47-18 overall record he has compiled and his average win total of 9.4 per season. In general, past Wolverine coaches have experienced tremendous success during their sixth season on the job in Ann Arbor, with five of the seven taking home a conference title and three of them finishing ranked No. 4 or higher in the final Associated Press poll of the year. It's also worth noting the AP poll wasn't introduced in college football until 1936, though, meaning Fielding H. Yost's 1906 club that went 4-1 and took home a share of the Western Conference crown likely would have finished with a similarly high ranking. The only two coaches who failed to win a league championship during their sixth season at the helm were Bennie Oosterbaan in 1953 and Harry Kipke in 1934. The latter suffered through a miserable 1-7 campaign in 1934, while the former compiled a 6-3 record in 1953 and saw the Maize and Blue conclude at No. 20 in the AP poll. It's difficult to judge each of the coach's final won-loss records side by side due to the differing amounts of games they all played, but it's worth noting that four of the seven enjoyed seasons that saw their Wolverines drop only one game — Yost's aforemen- tioned 1906 club who finished 4-1, Fritz Crisler's 1943 team who went 8-1, Bump El- liott's 1964 crew who concluded at 9-1 and Bo Schembechler's 1974 bunch who racked up a 10-1 record. Two of the primary criticisms of Har- baugh's Maize and Blue squads over the last five years have been his inabilities to beat Ohio State and win a Big Ten title. A look back at Elliott's tenure reveals that his Michigan clubs also struggled in both aspects during his first five years on the job from 1959-63. A 1-4 record against the Buckeyes and zero Big Ten titles eventu- ally gave way to a breakthrough 1964 cam- paign that saw the Wolverines take home the conference championship with a 6-1 league mark and defeat Ohio State 10-0 in Colum- bus, cementing the season as Elliott's best during his 10 years in Ann Arbor (1959-68). Crisler also followed a similar script in regards to his conference title drought, win- ning his first Western Conference crown in 1943 after failing to do so during his first five years at the helm. If history is any indication, the odds are in Harbaugh's favor in 2020 to finally accom- plish one of the two previously discussed achievements that have eluded him, see- ing as how six of the seven aforementioned coaches either beat Ohio State or won the league crown during their sixth year at the helm, while Yost, Crisler, Elliott and Lloyd Carr (in 2000) accomplished both. ❑ Jim Harbaugh Is Seeking The Immense Success That Year No. 6 Has Brought His Predecessors MICHIGAN FOOTBALL MICHIGAN FOOTBALL Harbaugh compiled a 47-18 record in his first five seasons in charge and will be just the eighth head coach in program history to reach a sixth year. He will try to become the sixth of those eight to beat Ohio State and win a conference title in year six. PHOTO BY BRANDON BROWN How Past Michigan Coaches Have Fared During Their Sixth Season On The Job Rec. First Record In Conference AP Poll Year Coach Five Years Year Six Finish Finish Vs. OSU 1906 Fielding H. Yost 55-1-1 4-1 T-1st N/A Won 1934 Harry Kipke 36-4-4 1-7 10th N/A Lost 1943 Fritz Crisler 32-8-2 8-1 T-1st No. 3 Won 1953 Bennie Oosterbaan 30-14-2 6-3 T-6th No. 20 Won 1964 Bump Elliott 20-23-2 9-1 1st No. 4 Won 1974 Bo Schembechler 48-6-1 10-1 T-1st No. 3 Lost 2000 Lloyd Carr 49-13 9-3 T-1st No. 11 Won

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