Jim Harbaugh is the new head coach at the University of Michigan. This is the “Michigan Man” that the school has wanted ever since Lloyd Carr retired from coaching at the school in 2007. Harbaugh has one more game left with the San Francisco 49ers today & will then have a press conference on Monday announcing he will be the new coach, per reports from various sources around the NFL.
Harbaugh is instantly going to restore Michigan’s cache back into prominence & vault the Wolverines back into the contention for the Big Ten championship next season, especially with the Michigan State Spartans possibly losing their most important piece to their championship defense in defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who will become the new head coach at Pitt.
At Michigan, the expectation has always been to win the Big Ten championship, beat Ohio State & hope to do well in the Rose Bowl each season, ever since the years of Bo Schlembechler. That mantra carried through Gary Moeller, into Lloyd Carr, but has dropped off when Rich Rodriguez came along & really fell off after the last coach, Brady Hoke, consistently got worse during his tenure at Michigan, after winning the Sugar Bowl in 2011 in his first season in Ann Arbor.
Looking at Harbaugh’s coaching career, he has been one of the most celebrated in all of football, college or NFL. He took Stanford, got great recruiting classes year in & year out at one of the toughest places to recruit in all of college football, & made them into a title contender consistently, with a BCS berth in the Orange Bowl & never losing to the main rivals for Stanford – the USC Trojans – at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
In 2011, he signed a deal to coach the San Francisco 49ers, whom he has taken to become one of the elite teams in the NFC again, after the organization had been basically dormant for many years. He lost in SuperBowl 47 to his brother John & his Baltimore Ravens, but came back the next season to lead the 49ers back to the NFC Championship Game, falling to the eventual SuperBowl champion Seattle Seahawks in one of the most competitive conference championship games in years.
This season, the 49ers fell off a bit, but the biggest reason for the fall has been because of injuries to many key players across the roster & not having former Pro Bowl defensive end Aldon Smith for the majority of the season based on a suspension by the NFL.
That being said, Harbaugh is no doubt a great coach & can lead Michigan right back into the top of the Big Ten. But Harbaugh is going to have to get right on the recruiting trail quickly, as many recruits have decommitted from Michigan due to the instability of the program & not being completely sure if Hoke would be fired after the season was over. The Wolverines only have two three-star recruits & four four-star recruits with zero five-star recruits. The six recruits total are a low number at this point of the recruiting game & only 3 are ranked in the ESPN top 300.
On top of all of that, the fans have lost faith in Michigan football. There were many situations throughout the 2014 season where the Wolverines most likely didn’t truly have 100,000 people in Michigan Stadium, a stat that the university has held very proud & in high regard for years. The fans were tired of the Hoke act, the boring offense & the sense that the team had absolutely little to no shot every Saturday when they took the field, something that is not accepted in Ann Arbor.
From a football perspective, Harbaugh will bring a tough style of coaching, but also bring the Wolverines back to a true smash mouth style of football that the fans have been used to for many years. The team will go back to running the football consistently & depending on how many new recruits Harbaugh can bring in just based on reputation alone, the Wolverines should be upgraded across the defense quickly, especially already having Jabril Peppers as the #1 cornerback going into camp next year.
If this situation works itself out the way everyone in the free world believes that it will, the Michigan Wolverines & the boosters & fans will all rejoice to finally have a guy who is proven, who is a winner, & who is truly a “Michigan Man.”
Hail to the Victors.