It still has not quite clicked for me yet. Even after typing that headline, and seeing the press conference (embedded near the end), it all seems very surreal. I was very adamant from the start that Jim Harbaugh would remain in the NFL. I did not see any way that he would come back to college without winning a Lombardi Trophy. I was very wrong, and I couldn’t be more happy about it. I’m sorry to those that I doubted (specifically the Cornicelli brothers, not you, Matt) and it is awesome that Michigan got their guy. Who knows if they could have had him the last go around, when Michigan hired Hoke. It is possible if they had fired Rich Rodriguez right away that he would have come, but waiting around until after the bowl game and the fact that Dave Brandon is a control freak certainly made it impossible. But, that’s neither here nor there at this point, Jim Harbaugh is now Michigan’s head football coach. Thankfully.
I’m sorry if this post ends up seeming jumbled. I’m just excited and when I get riled up, well, organization goes out the window.
I can only think of one other successful coach that went from college to the NFL, back to college and back to the NFL again. And even then, he wasn’t nearly as successful in the NFL his first time around as Jim Harbaugh was (31-33 in his first NFL stint with Seattle after a National Championship with The U). Who was that coach, you ask? That coach is Dennis Erickson, so enjoy that little piece of trivia that hardly anyone else will know.
On a different note, real quick, it’s very important that Jim Hackett and Mark Schlissel be commended on how they handled this search. I was not sure Jim Hackett had it in him, but he did one helluva job. I’m sure he wasn’t the only one working the phones and pulling the strings, but he got the job done and deserves serious consideration to be the permanent Athletic Director, if he wants to be the guy. He showed major guts putting his eggs into one basket and making it happen. Schlissel deserves credit for staying out of it, appointing Hackett and letting the department open up the purse strings to get their guy. And the Board of Regents did a good job sitting back and letting the whole thing happen as well. It was a job well done all around and everyone deserves pats on the back, seriously.
Things were building for quite a while, but they really heated up the last two weeks. Even more so this past week and they reached a fever pitch on Saturday night before the 49ers last game of the year when John U. Bacon dropped this bomb.
Add in this tweet from one of Jim Harbaugh’s high school buddies and it was all but over.
The odds were always in Michigan’s favor, so maybe Las Vegas had a little bit of insider information. Someone must have along the way because a site even took down the odds at one point on December 6th and suspended betting, because too much money was being bet on Jim Harbaugh, even after they kept lowering the odds.
Credit must go out to the local writers, who absolutely owned the NFL/National writers on this one. Guys like Sam Webb, Chris Balas and John U. Bacon were all over this from the start with nothing but the most accurate info. Quite glad I actually got a Rivals account because Balas did such a good job. A lot of national writers will be eating crow (obviously myself included), for how vehemently they denied Harbaugh would come to Michigan and how they said he was never interested (I never said this). At least Ian Rapoport and Adam Schefter are class acts enough to admit who got it right. These guys are consummate pros.
(I have a tough time crediting Gregg Henson though since he has churned out a few questionable reports in the past and credited Jim Brandstatter for telling him something that didn’t happen.)
Oh and Marcellus Wiley did know what he was talking about…
(On a side note, I’m so tired of reckless reporting by people with “sources.” Yes, people often have accurate sources, but not everyone has to be the first with everything. Let’s have a little more accountability…because David Cutcliffe? lol)
Now that the champagne has been popped and everyone has celebrated that Michigan got their guy and did an outstanding job with the coaching search, a few things need to be covered.
1) Give Jim Harbaugh time
This is the absolute most important thing to take away from this post. Yes, there is talent on the roster; a multitude of it. But it’s not clear if there is a quarterback that can play on the roster and it isn’t clear how long it will take to get the players into shape. The rumors are that the players are soft and entitled and act like prima donnas. It’s going to take some time to get a reversal of this attitude. Give Jim time to get his staff in place, get recruiting and turn it around. 41 of 85 scholarship players are in their first two years of NCAA eligibility right now, so it’s a young group he will be working with. A National Championship will not be in Michigan’s hand in year one, so temper your expectations. Remember, Nick Saban went 7-6 in his first year at Alabama, and I’m thinking 8-5 would be a solid starting spot for Jim.
2) Expect some attrition
As I said, I’ve heard that some players are soft, and I think that Harbaugh’s maniacal demeanor will rub some of them the wrong way, much like Bo Schembechler did. I would expect a few players to leave, which isn’t completely understandable, especially if they’re buried on the depth chart. Then again, maybe they will welcome the change. After all, doesn’t everyone want to be great and to win?
3) This could not have happened more perfectly
The stars truly aligned on this one. As painful of a year that it was for Michigan to endure, now Michigan State has lost Pat Narduzzi and Ohio State lost Tom Herman and Michigan got a major hire that should not have been possible. Jim Harbaugh should not have ever been close to being fired from the San Francisco 49ers, but there were some behind the scenes stuff that just didn’t mesh. Thankfully.
Then Jim Hackett became interim Athletic Director and he played for Michigan when Jack Harbaugh was an assistant coach. It all seems like destiny.
4) Jim Harbaugh now has total control
In the NFL he did not have total control of everything, which probably drove him absolutely nuts. Now he can control every aspect of the football department ranging from communications, travel, operations, the works. He’s in complete control of everything with the Michigan football program and that is huge. It was clearly one of the key selling points on coming back to Michigan, other than the fact that this is a job that he’s always wanted. I’m sure his wife also played a major factor so that the family has some stability to raise some of their younger kids.
5) The Big Ten East is now “Murderers’ Row”
They used to call the old New York Yankees Murderers’ Row when they rolled out one of the nastiest lineups ever during the 1920s. Now the Big Ten East can take that moniker with their coaching lineup. Mark Dantonio at MSU, Urban Meyer at OSU, James Franklin at Penn State, and now Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. What an unreal lineup of coaches and teams. I bet Kyle Flood (Rutgers) and Randy Edsall (Maryland) are just thrilled that their athletic directors moved them to the Big Ten now. Good luck trying to win playing those four teams every year.
6) Do not expect Jim Harbaugh to stay here for the rest of his career
Just don’t get your hopes up. Don’t you do it. Expect a 6-7 year stint to revive/save the program and then go back to the NFL to try to get a ring. I’m not saying there is no chance that he will stay forever, I’m just saying lets focus on getting the program fixed first before we think about him coaching forever. Let’s think short-term. There will always be reports of him being interested in the NFL and there are still reports that he didn’t want to leave. It’ll be a yearly thing, so we’re just going to have to deal with it.
Though a seven-year deal, where he chose to take less money than what Oakland offered, should keep him around for a bit of time. His dad seems to think he’s here for the long-haul…
What do I know, probably nothing.
It’s pretty awesome that he wanted to take less money so that he could get better assistants that would need to be paid more. That’s a guy that truly gets it. And here are his official contract terms:
And don’t worry about whether or not Michigan has the money to pay this deal or pay off Brady Hoke’s buyout. The Athletic Department is still printing money.
7) What about the rest of the staff?
Patience. Who else will be on the staff remains to be seen, and it will be far more interesting to see that play out. A lot of the rumors seem to be that former Florida Gators DC D.J. Durkin will be the new defensive coordinator, who worked with Jim at Stanford. I’m hoping that he brings Greg Roman with him from the 49ers, but who knows how that will all play out. I’ve even seen a rumor that said Greg Mattison and D.J. Durkin could be co-defensive coordinators. Pretty wild stuff. Obviously, I’ll keep you posted on here or on twitter. If you want instant information, I highly recommend following me since I retweet everything and destroy people’s timelines (sorry).
Harbaugh himself hasn’t wasted any time and is already coaching, apparently.
8) And what about CROOTIN?
If you’re worried about recruiting, don’t be. The class is going to be about a maximum of 15 players, with six players already committed. It shouldn’t be too hard for him to get recruits based on their reactions of the hire. If their tweets/interviews are any inclination, it will be like fishing with dynamite for Jim and the staff.
I would anticipate a smaller class, somewhere in the range of 11 or 12 guys. Focus on getting key players for the class and save the other scholarships for 2016 when they can concentrate on more players and really get into the meat of shaping the roster.
Finally, don’t let anyone sell you short, the hype around this hire is real. It’s basically a triple overtime game-winning goal in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. This is a major coup for the Michigan program and the first step in turning around Michigan football that has fallen apart the last 7 years. I’ve heard that Michigan is dealing with an overflow of people already turning in their football PSD’s to ensure that they have their tickets for next year now. Harbaugh is the perfect fit for the Michigan fan base. He’s obsessive and demanding and will be able to get things done. Coaching college gives him more control than he had in the pros and more control over players. On top of that, coaching at Michigan gives him the opportunity to be an absolute legend. There is no reason to think that it isn’t possible for Harbaugh to end up with a statue outside of the Big House some day, and you know that he has to love the idea of that.
Here’s a link to the official press release and the press conference is embedded below.
That was an unbelievable press conference. Everything sounds so great, especially when he said he made the decision with his heart and not a pros and cons list. Oh and you know, when he made his building homes metaphor and implied he hoped this was permanent.
Here’s a link to a one-on-one interview with mgoblue.com.
Hell, listen to this podcast from Sam Webb and see how excited former players and Jon Falk are. It’s amazing.
This Outside The Lines podcast with John U. Bacon isn’t bad either.
If you need some new apparel…I would recommend making a stop at this website.
some a plethora of tweets/articles you may be interested in:
This read from the Washington Post on escalating coaches salaries is fascinating–> Jim Harbaugh’s Contract Escalates Coaches’ Salaries Scale
And thanks to Adam Rittenberg from ESPN for linking to a post of mine. His post is a good read too.
Finally, here is what the Oakland Raiders owner had to say about the hire: