Mark Dantonio and Jim Harbaugh Can’t Say Enough Nice Things About Each Other, And It Has To Stop
Mark Dantonio and Jim Harbaugh are at the helms of diametrically opposed entities. One's success invariably is to the other's detriment.
They are mortal enemies on contrary sides of the state of Michigan's Civil War.
That's why it's so weird to hear them praise each other effusively.
"Truly one of the best coaches to come through, whether it's college coaching or the NFL, the past few years," Dantonio said of his Michigan counterpart.
Said Harbaugh of the job his Green and White analogue has done in East Lansing: "One of the best coaching jobs in the history of the college game, at the highest level."
I guess it's not Darryl Rogers' rivalry anymore.
Obviously, both coaches are employing some high-level coachspeak, carefully trying to avoid saying anything that could be construed as bulletin board material for the other guys. This is probably moreso the case for Harbaugh since his is the favored, undefeated team that doesn't need to create any undue motivational material for the underdog in its own backyard.
But the extent of the adulation here is unusual, even for a day and age when coaches have appropriated the milquetoast oratorical antics of politicians.
And that just doesn't fit the rivalry.
I'm not saying either of them ought to deign to the level of refusing to acknowledge the other by name or any like gimmick. Neither needs to pull any bush-league maneuvers like turning the hot water off in their visitors' locker room.
But Dantonio and Harbaugh don't need to be so lovey-dovey. You can be ultra-competitive and simultaneously respectful--think the opposite of the current presidential campaign.
For a couple of guys whose achievements and failures are eternally inversely connected, this publicly harmonious rapport feels artificial and contrived.
Because it is.
At least they've gone full-on Cold War with their depth charts.