Jim Harbaugh Says Michigan Is 'Kind of on the Cusp' After 9-4 Season

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IIMay 15, 2020

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh huddles with his players on the field during a time out in the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against Michigan State in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. Michigan won 44-10. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
Tony Ding/Associated Press

Jim Harbaugh is optimistic about the direction of his Michigan Wolverines football program.

"Right now, I think our team, we're kind of on the cusp," the 56-year-old told The Athletic's Tim Kawakami. "We haven't gotten it over the top into the playoffs and to championships, and that's what drives us and motivates us every day on the field and every day working toward that goal."

Harbaugh noted Michigan's trips to the New Year's Six bowl games, as the Wolverines won the 2015 Citrus Bowl (41-7 over Florida) and lost the 2017 Outback Bowl (26-19 to South Carolina) as well as the 2019 Citrus Bowl (35-16 to Alabama).

"But you're right, winning that championship, making the playoffs, that's something our players and our coaches are pouring our hearts and souls into," the former San Francisco 49ers head coach continued. "And we're determined to get there."

The Niners parted ways with Harbaugh after an 8-8 2014 campaign, and Michigan hired him in December 2014.

Harbaugh was San Francisco's head coach from 2011-14, leading the team to two conference championships (2011, '13) and Super Bowl XLVII where they lost 34-31 to Baltimore (2012).

Harbaugh played quarterback for the Wolverines from 1983-86, making four bowl trips but only winning the 1985 Fiesta Bowl.

Michigan has failed to make the College Football Playoff or defeat rival Ohio State under Harbaugh, but the team has also not posted a losing record. The Wolverines have gone 10-3 three times (2015, '16 and '18) as well as 8-5 in 2017 and 9-4 last season.

In terms of where the program can go in 2020 and beyond, Orion Sang of the Detroit Free Press suggested that Harbaugh has the deepest talent at running back since arriving to Ann Arbor with sophomore Zach Charbonnet, redshirt sophomore Hassan Haskins and redshirt senior Chris Evans.

Evans missed last season due to what he called "academic issues" but was reinstated, and the previously inexperienced Charbonnet and Haskins carried the load with a combined 1,348 yards and 15 touchdowns.

Quarterback is less certain, as two-year starter Shea Patterson departed for the NFL. "In the Jim Harbaugh era, Michigan's signal-callers have been good but never great," Michael Spath of Sports Illustrated wrote in February.

Michigan's 2020 regular season is scheduled to begin against Washington Sept. 5, but that could be delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.