Jim Harbaugh May Be Whispering, But Quarterbacks Aren't Listening

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Joe Milton, the latest perceived messiah for Michigan football, has entered the transfer portal. The former four-star quarterback showcased a ferocious arm but spotty consistency last year for the Wolverines and was expected to be in a three-way competition for the starting role in the fall with Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy.

Though a somewhat surprising departure, everyone should by now be used to maize-and-blue seasoned quarterbacks fleeing the program for greener and often smaller pastures. Just weeks ago, Dylan McCaffrey joined his father at Northern Colorado, leaving precious few memorable moments in Ann Arbor despite great expectations.

If you include McCaffrey — who didn't start but was sure expected to — the comprehensive look at quarterbacks to shuffle into and out of Jim Harbaugh's system since he arrived six years ago is head-spinning.

Before the pitchforks come out, let me acknowledge that half of these guys were left over from the old regime. It's not necessarily Harbaugh's faults that he had two guys in Rudock and Speight with game-management ceilings. In fact, it's probably a testament to his coaching that the Wolverines were able to win so many games with them helming the team. And one could make the argument that Shea Patterson turned into a reliably above-average Big Ten quarterback even if he never came close to smelling Indianapolis or a winning locker room against Ohio State.

The point is that Harbaugh, loudly trumpeted as a quarterback whisperer, is yet to find the magic he showed while harnessing Colin Kaepernick's unique skill set. Just reading that sentence should drive home just how long ago that all was.

So it might be worth asking, at some point, what exactly "quarterback whisperer" means? Because so far at Michigan, it hasn't translated to spectacular quarterback play or meaningful winning. It also hasn't translated to any continuity or development. It might be worth wonder if all the whispering has been for naught because no one is listening.

Milton made it obvious that he wasn't ready to lead a championship team. It's possible he would have taken great strides in his third year. It's still possible he'll do it elsewhere. The cupboard is not bare as McNamara completed 61 percent of his passes for five touchdowns without a pick in limited action. McCarthy was the second-highest rated pro-style quarterback in his classes.

Harbaugh may have forever to figure it out. Maybe it's time to speak up a little.