Jim Harbaugh has gone "from savior to hot seat" as he enters his fourth season at Michigan, writes Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports, who ranks the Wolverines' leader fourth among his top 25 most intriguing college coaches for 2018.
Harbaugh is 28-11 at Michigan, but has yet to guide the Wolverines to anything better than third place in the Big Ten East. He owns a 1-5 combined record against Ohio State and Michigan State, and his teams have lost two of their three bowl game appearances.
"From savior to hot seat in three seasons, that’s the unexpected arc of Harbaugh’s tenure at his alma mater," Forde writes for the rankings posted Monday. "Harbaugh has created endless headlines with recruiting stunts, audacious spring practice journeys, brazen satellite camps and odd personal philosophies — most recently declaring chicken a 'nervous bird' that should not be eaten. But with a 1-5 record against rivals Ohio State and Michigan State, he hasn’t made enough headlines for winning the games that matter most."
Michigan returns the bulk of its starters from last season's 8-5 team, including standouts on both sides of the ball. Three defensive starters — Rashan Gary, Devin Bush and Chase Winovich — were ranked Monday among the top 50 college football players by ESPN, following similar accolades last week from the Sporting News. They've also added a potential starting quarterback in Shea Patterson, who transferred from Mississippi.
"(Harbaugh) has a roster flush with talent this year," Forde writes, "creating the potential for a breakthrough season."
Ohio State's Urban Meyer, who is embroiled in controversy surrounding former receivers coach Zach Smith, tops Forde's rankings, followed by UCLA's Chip Kelly and Arizona State's Herm Edwards. Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio "just missed the list."
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, who once led the programs at Grand Valley State and Central Michigan, is No. 25.