By JERAMY STOVER, Sports Editor
Whether you’re willing to admit it or not, Twitter is becoming a big part of most of our lives. For those who are active on the social media platform, it’s a place to get breaking news, results from sports, and of course, entertainment.
With Twitter mainly popular in the younger demographic, college coaches have become accustomed by creating their own Twitter accounts and becoming a part of a new generation’s world.
This has certainly been the case for University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh. The man leading one of the most historic football programs in the country didn’t use Twitter while coaching in the NFL. But now that he’s back in the college ranks, he’s back in the Twittersphere.
And on Twitter is where Harbaugh’s biggest victories have come during his time at Michigan.
Now, his time at his alma mater has been brief as he enters his second season, but by no means is this criticism of Harbaugh’s record. He had a successful first season.
But during this offseason Harbaugh has been making big plays with his thumbs and it’s caused quite a stir.
After it was announced that the Michigan team would be heading to Florida for spring break to practice at a notorious high school that sends several players to division one schools each year, there were some who complained. Most of which came from SEC coaches who felt Harbaugh was poaching their area.
On Feb. 10 Harbaugh fired back on Twitter asking, “does anyone find whining attractive? Just curious.”
As expected, this made headlines around the sports world. And made many of those in Ann Arbor chuckle.
After getting criticized by Georgia head coach Kirby Smart, Harbaugh fired back again saying “If the Georgia coach is implying any intent on our part to break rules, he is barking up the wrong tree.” Style points to Harbaugh for using “barking up the wrong tree” towards Smart who coaches a team with the nickname of Bulldogs.
But in his next missile fired, Harbaugh upped the ante yet again. After a few coaches quipped that they should go to Florida to watch Michigan practice and have lunch, Harbaugh fired upon Tennessee coach Butch Jones, whose program has been under investigation due to sexual assault accusations.
Harbaugh suggested that Jones focus on his own team instead of spending time in Florida. It was interesting to see Harbaugh poke at Jones when both Arkansas coach Bret Bielema and Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio were also in on the joke. It should be noted that Michigan plays Arkansas two years from now.
Then when you thought Harbaugh was out of ammunition, he reloaded and fired again. This time at a familiar foe.
On March 22, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith was asked about holding spring practice in Florida. Smith responded partly by saying “if we were jump starting our program, I’d probably try that too.” Even with some accuracy to Smith’s comments, it is without question a jab at his school’s biggest rival.
And with any jab towards the Michigan football program comes a counter punch by Harbaugh.
“Good to see Director Smith being relevant again after the tattoo fiasco. Welcome back!” Harbaugh tweeted later that day.
Oh yes he did.
But as entertaining as the tweet was, you can’t help but see the irony that comes with it. While it isn’t an athletic director’s job to be relevant, it is for the football program. And as historic as the Michigan football program is, they haven’t been very relevant in nearly a decade.
Especially when it comes to the bitter rivalry between Michigan and Ohio State. The Wolverines have beaten the Buckeyes just once since 2003.
Ohio State has won six conference titles and one national championship since 2005. Michigan has none of either since then.
That’s a problem when firing shots to your rival over Twitter. While Harbaugh’s jabs have been comical, they have little support to them.
As of now Harbaugh is 0-1 to the Buckeyes taking a 42-13 drubbing last season in Ann Arbor. It is just one season, sure, but it wasn’t a good start. The Wolverines were never in that game, and didn’t look like they were near the level of the Buckeyes.
I believe that will change soon. Michigan will get on par with Ohio State sooner rather than later. But until that happens, Harbaugh needs to pick his Twitter battles wisely.
Harbaugh is paid to win battles on the football field, not on Twitter. That is something Michigan fans can’t forget. As fun as it is to see the Wolverines’ coach poke fun at his colleagues until he starts beating them, it doesn’t really matter.