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The #DailyDose: What does Jim Harbaugh need to do to have a successful first season?


Over the next several days the FootballScoop staff will be looking at the first year hires and offering our takes on how success will be defined in year one.

First up is Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.

Scott's take (@FootballScoop):

Honestly, I don't believe Michigan fans have significant expectations for 2015. I think they are so excited to have Jim back in the maize and blue that they will overlook a sub-par season, assuming Jim maintains expectations that the program is headed in the right direction. Now, with that said, when you look at their 2015 schedule, the schedule honestly is about as winnable as a Michigan schedule gets. They open at Utah, then have Oregon State, UNLV and BYU. A vintage Michigan teams wins all four, but this Michigan team should win at least three of those. Then, in conference they get the two most relevant games at home with Michigan State coming to Ann Arbor in mid-October and Ohio State coming to town to close out the season. The conference opener is at Maryland and they also have to travel to Penn State, but overall this is a slate that Jim Harbaugh can't complain about.

Most pundits will likely project three or four total losses for Michigan. I honestly could see a few more than that but, again, I don't think Michigan fans have massive expectations this season. It's not about this season. If Harbaugh and crew were able to beat either Michigan State or Ohio State, regardless of how they play the rest of the season, look out. Expectations from that point forward will be unattainably high.

Barring a complete breakdown, on the field or off, I simply can't see Michigan fan leaving this season not feeling good about the future.

Doug's take (@CoachSamz):

For Jim Harbaugh, I think success in his first year leading the historic program in Ann Arbor centers on a few keys - some of them rather obvious. First of all he has to get the Michigan offense (particularly the run game) back on track and restore the Michigan defense back to being a top 10 defense in the country. Like Wisconsin and Stanford (of late), Michigan was known to play a certain physical, hard-nosed brand of football on both sides of the ball when they were dominant, and they have to find a way to bring that back.

Secondly, Michigan has to beat Michigan State. The Wolverines may hold the all-time record, but six of the last seven games against the in-state rivals have been claimed by the Spartans.

Lastly, and perhaps most obviously, Michigan needs to knock off Ohio State. The last time Michigan beat the Buckeyes was during Luke Fickell's interim stint as the head coach, prior to Urban's arrival, and the Buckeyes have dominated the series lately, winning 12 of the last 14 meetings.

If Harbaugh and his staff can accomplish all three of these things, the rest will all fall into place and the season will be deemed largely a success. Two out of the three wouldn't be bad either though, as Meatloaf would say.

Zach's take (@Zach_Barnett): 

Let's get one thing straight right off the top. Andrew Luck isn't walking through that door. Colin Kaepernick isn't walking through that door, either.

Because of that and the state of that monster to Michigan's south, I'm going to pass on proclaiming any championships for Jim Harbaugh's first season, but let's not pretend the schedule is a murder's row, either.

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Most importantly, Jim Harbaugh's team needs to look like a Jim Harbaugh team. I expect to see the trademark toughness that Stanford and the 49ers played with while also shedding some of the dysfunction that plagued Brady Hoke's final years.

In short, I expect to see the skeleton of a team that will compete for Big Ten titles and beyond in the years to come.