Former UM star Toomer: Harbaugh must ‘be better’

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Former Michigan receiver Amani Toomer, livid because of the Wolverines’ 1-5 record against Michigan State and Ohio State during coach Jim Harbaugh’s first three seasons, believes Harbaugh should be held more accountable.

Toomer, who after his NFL career with the Giants is now with NBC Sports Radio, said in his new career, “the gloves are off” and he can speak his mind. Toomer appeared Thursday morning on the “Jamie and Stoney” show on 97.1 The Ticket and said Michigan fans “deserve better than” what Harbaugh and his teams have delivered the last three years.

Michigan had 10 wins his first two seasons and went 8-4 this season.

“I’m not saying, dump Harbaugh,” Toomer told the “Jamie and Stoney” show. “I know what he’s brought to the program. Excitement. I just feel like I want to hold his feet to the fire, and I want to hold Michigan’s feet to the fire, because I just feel like we’re better than this. And it’s not like I want to dump him and I think he’s terrible. I don’t. I think he’s a good coach. But I think he needs to take his game to another level. What Harbaugh’s done in his first three years, it’s good. It’s not good enough.

“The fact that we’re getting beat by Ohio State three times, how comes nobody’s saying anything about that? We get beat by Ohio State three times in his tenure, I don’t care how close we were last year, and you’re excited about that? As a Michigan person, I don’t know how you can … 1-5 … he’s only beat Michigan State once. How do you sit there and say that’s OK? How? Explain to me that. Make me feel better (about) 1-5 against Michigan State and Ohio State and then you’re happy with that?”

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Toomer said fans deserve better.

“I’m a frustrated fan,” he told the show. “I think that what Michigan signed up for was a Nick Saban. We signed up for an Urban Meyer. We signed up for somebody who was going to come in and change the culture. I mean, he had a great first year. The first two years I was excited, but like last year when he had his best team and they lose to Ohio State? I mean, that was a heartbreaker. I was like, ‘Ah, man, but we’re going to see, next year is going to be better.’

“And this year they lose to Ohio State embarrassingly. They lose to Michigan State, another embarrassment. I just think that we deserve better than this. He’s getting paid as one of the great coaches in college football that can make chicken soup out of chicken parts, and he’s just not doing that. If you’re a Michigan fan and you’re telling me you’re happy about the way the program is, well then I don’t know what to tell you. I’m very disappointed with this season. I’m very disappointed. Can’t find a quarterback. I’m just outside frustrated, because I feel like Michigan should be better than this.”

Michael Stone, the show’s co-host, pointed out to Toomer that his Michigan teams had three 8-4 seasons, but did go 4-3-1 against Michigan State and Ohio State.

“My coach got fired, too,” Toomer said. “My coach got fired my senior year. Gary Moeller got fired for that. I know what it means to have a coach be mediocre and now the team be mediocre and then your coach gets fired for that. What did (Harbaugh) get? A life insurance policy, signing bonus for a college football coach? It’s ridiculous.”

Moeller resigned in May 1995, just less than a week after a drunken outburst in the Excalibur restaurant in Southfield.

Toomer said he just wants Harbaugh to take the program to new levels.

“Look, we don’t hate Harbaugh. That’s not the point of this,” Toomer said. “The point is, he can be mad at me, whatever, I just want the team to be better. I’m not trying to tear apart the program, I love the program. I risked my life on the field for Michigan. I bleed blue, right? But for people to be OK with this is bothersome to me, because I think Michigan is better than this. If you don’t, that’s fine; if you’re happy with it, great. I’m not.”

He was asked for a solution.

“The solution is, Harbaugh be better,” Toomer said.