Where 247Sports ranks Jim Harbaugh in 2023 coaches list

How quickly things change.

Just a couple of years ago, Michigan football head coach Jim Harbaugh was on the hot seat, incapable of beating rival Ohio State, not sniffing Indianapolis, nor the College Football Playoff. Two years later, he’s being thought of as the top coach in the conference — something that wasn’t the case even a year ago. That distinction tended to go to either OSU’s Ryan Day or Penn State‘s James Franklin, depending on who was doing the rankings — though Harbaugh was generally slightly ahead of Franklin.

Last year, 247Sports’ Brad Crawford had Harbaugh at No. 6 — ahead of Day,  Franklin and Iowa‘s Kirk Ferentz — but he was 20th in the 2021 rankings, behind all three as well as former Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst and Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald.

Now, Crawford has Harbaugh as the No. 3 coach in the country, behind only Georgia‘s Kirby Smart and Alabama‘s Nick Saban.

Another win over Ohio State, the Big Ten championship and a playoff berth for Harbaugh’s Wolverines in 2022. Outside of Georgia’s Kirby Smart, no coach nationally has made more noise since the start of the 2021 campaign. He was able to dodge NFL murmurs with a new deal last spring, handled quarterback controversy to open the season and sprinted through the Big Ten’s gantlet unscathed as the league’s top coach. Will Harbaugh and Michigan go for the trifecta in 2023? He needs a playoff win.

Crawford is absolutely right that Harbaugh needs a playoff win to solidify his standing. He had a prime opportunity last year against TCU, but thanks to some ill-advised coaching decisions, quarterback mistakes and other miscues, the Horned Frogs edged the Wolverines, 51-45, in the College Football Playoff semifinal.

The maize and blue enter 2023 with a loaded roster, most of the coaching staff returning, and a breezy nonconference schedule. The opportunity is there once again this season.

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Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire