After weeks of speculation, the search is over. At a press conference today, interim athletic director Jim Hackett announced that former San Francisco 49er’s coach Jim Harbaugh has been hired as the new head coach of the Michigan football team. While Hackett did not go into specifics, Harbaugh has agreed to a seven year contract with the University for approximately $5 million per year plus incentives, making him one of the highest paid coaches in college football. Harbaugh will be the twentieth head coach in Michigan’s history.
Harbaugh has a long history with both the University and football in general. He played quarterback for Michigan under Bo Schembechler from 1983 to 1986, finishing his college career in the top five in passing attempts and completions in school history. He also had a lengthy career as a quarterback in the NFL, beginning in 1987 for the Chicago Bears. More recently, Harbaugh has gained widespread notoriety for his successes in coaching, most notably for Stanford University and the San Francisco 49ers. Overall, he has a career winning percentage of .686 and has won multiple awards over his career, including the 2011 NFL Coach of the Year award.
During his first press conference for the university, Harbaugh described his return to Ann Arbor as a homecoming. “I had dreamed about coaching at Michigan ever since I was a young lad. Now it’s time to live that dream.”
Harbaugh spoke highly of the team as well. He acknowledged the work former coach Brady Hoke had done to develop the team, and praised him for his efforts. “I feel like I’m standing on a foundation that is rock strong.”
The newly-hired coach finished his statement by making a pledge to both fans and the University as a whole. “You have my pledge that I will carry forward the tradition of excellence of the University of Michigan football program.”
Earlier in the press conference, Hackett described Harbaugh’s hiring as a “win-win deal” for the program. “You didn’t just get a great coach, you got the best coach in football today”. To conclude his remarks, Hackett simply stated “Our guy came home.”
The theme of family was prevalent throughout the entire conference. Hackett emphasized multiple times in his remarks that he was proud to see Coach Harbaugh return to Ann Arbor, as well as his return to the Michigan family. Additionally, Harbaugh was incredibly proud to rejoin the Michigan community with his family. He even took the time to introduce each member of his family to reporters and Michigan officials during the conference.
Despite Harbaugh’s praise of the program, the new coach comes to a Michigan football team that has struggled in recent years. The Wolverines amassed a disappointing 5-7 last year, failing to qualify for bowl eligibility for the first time since 2009. The team has also lost many top recruits after the firing of both Hoke and former athletic director Dave Brandon. Currently, only six have committed for next season.
In light of Michigan football’s recent struggles, Harbaugh remains confident. “I know Michigan football and believe in Michigan football. That will not be a hard job.”