Allegany Communications Sports

Baltimore Ravens fans are certainly hoping for another Harbaugh family reunion in another month with the same happy ending, the likes of which the nation saw Monday night from Houston after Michigan’s national-championship win over Washington, with the family patriarch, Coach Jack Harbaugh, reminding us all once again that nobody has it better than the Harbaughs.

In context, of course, the retired Coach Harbaugh was likely referring to the University of Michigan nation of fans (but maybe not) after the Wolverines’ 34-13 win over the Huskies; but nobody could have been any more on top of the world on Monday than was his son, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.

And why not?

Jim Harbaugh had survived two three-game suspensions — the first at the beginning of the regular season; the second at the end of the regular season — and, right up to the end, non-denial denied any number of looming NCAA investigations and possible penalties to lead his team to a 15-0 season and the school’s first outright national football championship since 1948 (the Wolverines shared the national title with Nebraska in 1997).

Whether Harbaugh is staying in Ann Arbor (unlikely) or returning to the NFL is anybody’s guess, but it seems he’s headed back to the pro game, with one longshot landing spot being Landover, Maryland in Prince George’s County, as the Washington Commanders made it official on Monday that they have a head coaching vacancy.

In the meantime, Harbaugh will enjoy the fruits of his team’s national title, which he said would now allow him to sit at the “big person’s table” for family holiday meals, as his father Jack had coached Western Kentucky to an NCAA Division I-AA national title and his brother John had coached the Ravens to a Super Bowl title.

Jim, of course, failed to mention on Monday night the team the Baltimore Super Bowl win came against, but it makes sense that he figured we were already aware it was his San Francisco 49ers, which, really, will always have him figuratively relegated to the “little table” for family meals. But I digress …

Whether or not the end of the great Michigan season will justify the means remains to be seen. That will be realized once all of the investigations are complete; though, certainly, if you run into anybody dressed in the maize and blue these days, all is right with the world regardless of how we got here.

Which, for now, is understandable. Michigan clearly had no equal this season in marching to the 15-0 season, and while Washington stuck around for a half, the Wolverines, as they have all season, had too much offensive and defensive line, among other things, to be denied.

No matter how they did it, though, honestly or otherwise, they have proved themselves to be the best college football team in the country.

Michigan was seriously challenged this season just three times, by Ohio State in a 30-24 victory, by Alabama in a 27-20 national semifinal overtime victory, and by Maryland in a 31-24 victory in College Park (just down the road from Landover).

That right, Maryland, which trailed by just 29-24 through the fourth quarter before quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa made one of his many silly mistakes that day in committing a late-game safety; and the Terps had three offensive possessions in the final three minutes of the game.

Maryland’s defense subdued the Michigan offense for most of the game after the Terps fell behind 21-0, including three times in the fourth quarter to keep giving its offense possessions, though with dreadful field position as the Michigan punter was off the charts outstanding that day.

The Terps spotted the Wolverines a three-touchdown lead yet still made them sweat until the final seconds, which only less than a handful of teams can say this year, all the while as Michigan knew Maryland’s offensive and defensive signals and play calls.

Maryland, which has won three straight bowl games and once again consistently sends players to the NFL, gave Michigan as much as Ohio State did and as much as Alabama did.

That’s not a stretch. It’s fact, and just another sure sign that under head coach Mike Locksley, Maryland football is getting back to where Maryland football needs to be and where Mike Locksley has always said it should be again.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT