Michigan came into the Fiesta Bowl this weekend with all the momentum in the world. A guaranteed National Championship Game spot seemed all but etched in stone.
Unfortunately, due to a myriad of factors, the Wolverines came up short against TCU in the most brutal fashion imaginable.
While the referees undoubtedly cheated Jim Harbaugh’s group out of a win they deserved, it is also impossible to ignore his terrible decision-making throughout the day.
There is no greater example of this than his ‘Philly Special’ call in the first quarter:
TCU STOPS MICHIGAN ON 4TH & GOAL FROM THE 2 YARD LINE!!!! FIESTA BOWL IS OFF TO AN ELECTRIC START! pic.twitter.com/yu3wLsxaKB
— 𝗙𝗢𝗟𝗟𝗢𝗪 @𝗙𝗧𝗕𝗲𝗮𝗿𝗱𝟳 (@FTBeard7) December 31, 2022
After the game, even Harbaugh couldn’t deny that call was a disaster.
Jim Harbaugh said he called Philly Special and takes full responsibility for it.
“Sitting here now, wish I would have called another one,” he said. pic.twitter.com/a0qv71Y9uu
— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) January 1, 2023
“Sitting here now, wish I would have called another one,” he said.
After an outing full of questionable moves by Harbaugh, understandably people weren’t really giving him the benefit of the doubt by the fourth quarter.
Trailing by six, Harbaugh let TCU run three plays and waste time off the clock rather than use his timeouts. One person who didn’t appear to be a big fan of that was his dad:
— Scoop Walsh (@scoopwalsh) January 1, 2023
In the end Michigan still got the ball back with 52 seconds remaining and had an opportunity to win. Harbaugh made the right call.
But there is a reason folks were questioning his decision-making towards the end.
The photos speak for themselves. https://t.co/69D1YRHqTO
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 30, 2022
Michigan suffered an all-time rough loss on Saturday. Harbaugh lost out on a seven-figure bonus. His quarterback, J.J. McCarthy suffered the indignity of his dad being weird with his girlfriend. And all the people who doubted the Wolverines’ ability to show up when it mattered most were proven right.
The only bright spot in the outing was a new star being born.
It will be interesting to see how Michigan ultimately rebounds in 2023. Harbaugh will have no shortage of NFL suitors this summer, and that will certainly have major implications for all parties involved.