By: Will Burchfield
Jim Harbaugh doesn’t tune out the critics, and there are a lot of them these days surrounding his football program.
Michigan stumbled through an 8-4 regular season and wound up in fourth place in the Big Ten East. Frustration is running high among the fan base. A 28-10 record over the past three seasons isn’t good enough, especially when the head coach is making about $9 million per year.
“We can do better as a football team,” Harbaugh said at his postseason banquet on Tuesday night, addressing the players, their families and program supporters, via MLive.com. “We welcome the judgment from you — I know you just want the best for us, and we’ve got to improve. We’ve got to improve.
“We want to win — we want to win all of our games. That’s what we’re striving for.”
While some coaches try to insulate their players from outside criticism, Harbaugh tells his team to embrace it. Some of it, he said, reminds him of how he grew up.
“I used to get that criticism from my family. From my dad, from my brother. ‘You stink. You’re not good enough.’ They’ll be times where you don’t win a game and, ‘What were you thinking in the third quarter, when you threw that interception?'” Harbaugh said.
Just last week, former Michigan wide receiver Amani Toomer ripped Harbaugh and the current state of the program.
“The fact that we’re mired in mediocrity and accepting it, that’s not what I think about Michigan. I don’t think of Michigan as an 8-3 team and being excited because we have Michael Jordan shoes. I don’t care about the shoes, I don’t care about going to Rome,” Toomer said. “We are an also-ran team in the Big Ten now and it’s embarrassing.”
Odds are, Harbaugh heard it. His antennae don’t miss much when it comes to commentary about his program.
“They talk about social media, they talk about the ending of the world, basically. I don’t see it that way. I really don’t,” Harbaugh said in an Outback Bowl conference call with the media earlier this month, via MLive.
Ultimately, Harbaugh understands the core of the Michigan fan base supports the team for the right reasons.
“People that care about you, we want what’s best for you,” Harbaugh said. “We want you to get your education. We want you to get your education. We want you to get your degree. We want you to represent Michigan in a first-class manner.
“But they also expect to win. They expect Michigan to be the best. They expect Michigan to be great. And we’ve got to go get that for them.”