Jim Harbaugh: This Year One of Best in Michigan History Despite CFP Loss to Georgia

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 1, 2022

MIAMI GARDENS, FLORIDA - DECEMBER 31: Head Coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines looks on before the game against the Georgia Bulldogs in the Capital One Orange Bowl for the College Football Playoff semifinal game at Hard Rock Stadium on December 31, 2021 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh was keeping things positive after the Wolverines' 34-11 loss to Georgia in Friday's College Football Playoff semifinal. 

"It was a great season," he told reporters after the loss. "To me, it's one of the best seasons in Michigan football history. We were trying to make it greater tonight, but still a great season. It's still a beginning for this team."

Michigan has claimed 11 national titles in its storied history, though none since 1997, and 43 conference titles, so topping its own history is tough to do. But the Harbaugh tenure was full of more promise than results before this year, as he hadn't led the team to a Big Ten title or win over Ohio State since taking over in 2014.

That all ended this season, as the Wolverines went 12-2, beat the Buckeyes and won the conference. While Michigan was clearly overmatched against Georgia, it was an excellent year for a team that opened the season unranked. 

PFF College Football @PFF_College

2021 was an UNFORGETTABLE season for <a href="https://twitter.com/UMichFootball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@UMichFootball</a><br><br>〽️12-2 Record<br>〽️First OSU win since 2011<br>〽️B1G Champions<br>〽️Heisman Runner-Up<br>〽️AP Coach of the Year <a href="https://t.co/kWyKzddZtI">pic.twitter.com/kWyKzddZtI</a>

The Wolverines have plenty to build on.

They have two solid quarterbacks in Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy, and a potential battle at the position to sort out. They successfully executed Harbaugh's identity for the team as a physical, run-first offense, rushing for 223.8 yards per game, 10th in the FBS. 

While Georgia slowed down that run attack on Friday, holding the Wolverines to 91 yards on the ground, most teams couldn't. Those Bulldogs, by the way, feature multiple future NFL draft picks and had the best defense in college football this year. 

The overriding point for Michigan? The ending was a disappointment, but the journey to the CFP semifinals exceeded all expectations for this team. The Wolverines won't be sneaking up on anybody next year.