Known as one of the most eccentric and enthusiastic coaches in college football today, Jim Harbaugh has been a breath of fresh air for the Michigan Wolverines.
A former quarterback for the Wolverines, Harbaugh inherited his alma mater in 2015 after a 5-7 season that led to the firing of Brady Hoke. It didn’t take long for the Michigan fan base to jump on board with the hire. He had a knack for delivering major results in a short amount of time.
While at Stanford (2007-2010) he turned a struggling program into a national power. In his first season, the Cardinal finished the year 4-8. Four years later, Stanford was ranked No. 4 in the country after a 12-1 campaign and an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech to close out the 2010 campaign.
Harbaugh also became forever-tied with All-American quarterback Andrew Luck, whose outstanding college career – mostly under the direction of Harbaugh – landed him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft.
Following a terrific four-year stint in Palo Alto, Harbaugh landed the head coaching job with the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, where he was in charge from 2011-2014. And the former NFL quarterback had plenty of quick success there, too.
San Francisco went to three-straight NFC Championship games from 2011-2013 and earned a berth in Super Bowl XLVII in Harbaugh’s second season with the team. Harbaugh was pitted against his brother, John Harbaugh as the 49ers faced the Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens went on to beat the 49ers 34-31.
In 2014, the 49ers finished the year 8-8 and missed the playoffs, which led to Harbaugh’s firing. Though the decision was puzzling at the time, it turned out to be a blessing for fans at Michigan, who welcomed their former quarterback with open arms.
Michigan was reeling after Rich Rodriguez and Hoke failed to win with any consistency in Ann Arbor. With Harbaugh’s ties to Michigan and his proven ability to turn around a program, the program had finally landed the “Michigan Man,” and one who has already delivered early results.
The Wolverines have gone 10-3 in back-to-back seasons in Harbaugh’s first two years on the job and are back in the national spotlight. And it doesn’t look like that will be changing anytime soon.
In addition to consecutive 10-win years – something that hasn’t happened at Michigan since 2002-2003 – Harbaugh has catapulted Michigan’s recruiting prowess. In his first two full seasons on the trail, Harbaugh’s recruiting classes ranked in the top 10 nationally in 2016 and 2017. Though his tactics have been questioned – go-kart rides, overnight sleepovers, jumping into a pool – it has produced results.
Currently, the only things eluding Harbaugh are a B1G title and a win over arch-rival Ohio State. But with so much progress in such a short span, those goals are undoubtedly in the head coach’s future.
Before he was a head coach, Harbaugh was the quarterback for Michigan from 1982-1986. When his college days were over, Harbaugh was the program’s all-time leading passer with 5,449 yards.
Harbaugh also had a successful 14-year NFL career, playing for five organizations but was most-well known for his time with the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts. He also had stops with the Baltimore Ravens and San Diego Chargers.