The snickering has started across college football, from coaches meetings in the Big Ten to radio shows in the South. Hey, that’s what happens when you’re Jim Harbaugh and you parachute back in from the NFL with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, when you spend nearly three years as a whirling dervish of self-promotion and schtick but haven’t really come close to winning a national title.

Harbaugh admittedly has made himself an easy target for ridicule, and every micro-failure in his tenure is going to be magnified as the crisis that that allegedly will send him whimpering back to the NFL.

But understand this: If Harbaugh decides one day that he can’t get it done at his alma mater, it will say far more about Michigan than any failure on the part of Coach Khaki.

For all the coaching miracles Harbaugh has performed in his career, there is no podcast or trip to Rome that can fundamentally change the reality that Michigan is one of the most difficult jobs among a small group of bluebloods that aspire to win national titles.

And if Harbaugh doesn’t do it, it’s unlikely anyone in our lifetimes will.

Though the elitism and arrogance built into the Michigan brand suggests otherwise, there’s nothing Harbaugh can do about decades of built-in disadvantages in recruiting or the lack of relevant history to support Michigan’s claim as a national power.

Since sharing the 1997 national title with Nebraska, which was Michigan’s first since 1948, 12 programs have won the title and four others have played for it. In that same span, Michigan has just two outright Big Ten titles, fewer than Wisconsin and as many as Michigan State.

In other words, if Harbaugh eventually gets Michigan into the College Football Playoff, it will be an achievement built on raising the program above its recent history and current limitations, not a fulfillment of nostalgia that no longer represents reality.