Dear Harbaugh: If you can’t take the calls, stay off the field

Sure, Jim Harbaugh acts like a 5-year-old. But not all coaches can be Mark Dantonio

In the midst of U of M’s soul-crushing defeat to Ohio State this Saturday, many Michigan fans felt there was something left to be desired from the officials. No one felt this way more than Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh, who during his post-game conference said he was “bitterly disappointed in the officiating.”

Bitter is right. At one point following an offsides call against Michigan, Harbaugh sent his play sheet flying before slamming his headset to the ground, not unlike a Cheeto-fingered middle schooler would do following a bad round of Call of Duty. The sideline theatrics bought him an added unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and, eventually, a $10,000 fine.

But perhaps Harbaugh has a point. After all, you could definitely argue that there were some inconsistencies in the way the officials handled pass interference that day. And that overtime fourth-and-one call? Definitely worth a measurement, if not a review.

Of course, none of this is new to Harbaugh. He’s been fighting with officials for years. In fact, if you asked him, he’d probably tell you that the referees robbed him of a Super Bowl win when his San Francisco 49ers came up one play short in Super Bowl XLVIII.

One has to ask, though: Even if Harbaugh is justified in complaining, isn’t his behavior still grossly unprofessional and downright childish? At this stage in his career, shouldn’t Harbaugh have learned by now how to lose with grace and composure, or maybe even focus on what he personally could have done better to overcome the arguably bad calls from the refs?

Consider for instance Mark Dantonio, Head Coach of the MSU football team. Following his most successful season as a coach, Dantonio’s Spartans have fallen off a cliff this year. At 3-9, even a bottom-tier Bowl game is out of the question.

But wait…do you hear Dantonio crying foul? Do you hear him blaming his staff, his competition or the refs? No, no and no. Instead, we hear this from him:

“Our young players have worked harder than they’ve ever worked in their football lives. Period…Don’t point the finger, point the thumb and get on with it.”

That is how you handle defeat. With poise and grace, Dantonio waxed poetic about the determination and work ethic of his team, while admitting that you have nowhere to look but at yourself when you lose. That is how Harbaugh should have taken the loss to OSU.

All of this notwithstanding, don’t be too hard on Jim Harbaugh. Sure, he’s an overeager, loudmouthed, temper tantrum-throwing man-child – but hey, we can’t all be as good as Mark Dantonio.

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