Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh recaps Peach Bowl after the 41-15 loss to Florida on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2018, in Atlanta.
Nick Baumgardner, Freep
Maybe I enjoyed a little too much holiday food and eggnog. Maybe it was the fruit cake. Or It could have just been too many viewings of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Whatever the reason, it feels like Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh has sort of turned into George Bailey. But instead of the good people of Bedford Falls praying for Bailey as he contemplates his life’s failures while he stands on a bridge, Michigan fans seem to be pointing out Harbaugh’s failures after the Peach Bowl loss to Florida.
That’s where I come in. Instead of Clarence, you get Carlos. Every time a bell rings, a sports writer gets a first-class flight upgrade.
And I’m here to tell you that the Michigan football program has indeed enjoyed a wonderful life during Harbaugh’s time in Ann Arbor.
But no Big Ten championship! No national championship! No wins over Ohio State! And those two season-ending embarrassing losses that exposed an outdated offense and a suddenly toothless defense. And with that outsized, undeserved salary!
OK, OK. Take it easy.
Like George Bailey, we should be reminded of the good Harbaugh has done. He’s won 73 percent of his games, he’s gone to a bowl game every year, he finally beat a ranked team on the road, and he’s put the Wolverines in the hunt for the College Football Playoff.
He has made Michigan football respectable again. Or have you already forgotten about the disastrous Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke eras?
There are plenty of areas for Harbaugh to improve, especially on offense. You might argue whether Harbaugh’s arrow is pointing up at Michigan. With Shea Patterson’s return, I would say yes. With no more Urban Meyer, I would say yes. With Notre Dame, Michigan State and Ohio State coming to Ann Arbor this year, I would definitely say yes.
Even if you don’t agree, it would be hard to argue that Harbaugh’s arrow is pointing down.
I know this is hard to swallow when the season ends with a thud. But it isn’t as bleak as you think. Spring will be here soon. Hope will be renewed with the team’s first practices. And the only person jumping will be me — to first class, because I think I just heard a bell. They serve complimentary eggnog up there, don’t they?
Mind over matter
What’s going on with the Pistons and Red Wings? They aren’t just losing games — they’re losing mind games.
When they weren’t busy getting run over by the Milwaukee Bucks and the Calgary Flames, respectively, the Pistons and Wings were having a hard time holding it together mentally.
Point guard Reggie Jackson played well in the 121-98 loss Tuesday, but he admitted he has struggled to adjust to coach Dwane Casey’s system and to Blake Griffin.
“I find myself in my own head sometimes. … I find myself overthinking rather than just playing the game, playing off feel,” Jackson told reporters.
After the Wings couldn’t hang with the Flames’ powerhouse offense in a 5-3 loss, coach Jeff Blashill issued a directive.
“We’re obviously a bit of a fragile team,” he said. “We’re in these games all the time, it’s a one-goal game, you have to find a way to win. We found a way to lose.”
Credit both teams with bouncing back to win their next game, especially the Wings’ 4-3 overtime win against a good Nashville team Friday. But it sounds like the MVP for both teams might end up being a motivational speaker.
Pistons/Wings rating: 12/10. Pistons/Wings spirit animal: Hooper reading a Tony Robbins book.
Haters gonna hate
It’s early, but we already have a strong contender for quote of the year. And the best thing is that it was spoken by two people on different teams.
Michigan State hockey forward Patrick Khodorenko: “We hate them as much as they hate us.”
Michigan forward Nick Pastujov: “We hate them. They hate us. That’s the way it is.”
This came courtesy of the Lansing State Journal’s coverage of the Great Lakes Invitational’s third-place game Monday at Little Caesars Arena. There were lots of penalties and a brawl. Of course, they all shook hands at center ice afterward. How do you not love hockey?
Unfortunately, the game ended in a 2-2 tie, which they say is like kissing your sister. Or, in this case, your little brother.
U-M/MSU rating: XOXO/10. U-M/MSU spirit animal:Rod Smart.
In a recent column, I wrote that the Wings need a real-life mascot. Reader Tim Mackey pointed out that the Wings actually had a mascot in the 1980s.
According to the Free Press’ official archivist, statistician and logician — who may or may not be named Iffy the Dopester — I can confirm “The Red Winger” made his debut for the 1982-83 season, Mike Ilitch’s first as owner. He was played by Jim Wilczak, who also was the skating Bulldog at Ferris State.
The Red Winger mysteriously went missing sometime around 1987. Rumor has it he was last seen at the Machus Red Fox.
Mackey also mentioned a theme song, and indeed Larry Santos’ “Red Wings, My Red Wings” also debuted for the ’82-83 season. It’s best to forget it existed, but you can hear it on YouTube. I warned you.
Contact Carlos Monarrez at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.