Somehow after seeming to botch the coaching search after the firing of former head coach Brady Hoke, the Michigan Wolverines got their man.
Tuesday the Wolverines introduced former San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh as the next head coach of the football program, ending a few month of debate about whether the former college coach would jump back down to the collegiate game or coach somewhere else in the NFL.
As someone whose school went through a lengthy coaching search with names being thrown out left and right, I must congratulate the Michigan fans on getting the guy they hoped for so long would come back and hopefully turn the Wolverine program around; however, I have a warning. This is either going to go very well or very poorly for Harbaugh and Michigan.
I know that Harbaugh has a very good track record when it comes to turning teams around. At his time at Stanford, Harbaugh managed to take a Cardinal team that won only one game the year before he got there and then in his third year had them in a bowl game for the first time since 2001 and then took them to the Orange in 2010. He also managed to set up Stanford for prolonged success as the Cardinal has been to a bowl game in each of the four years after he left, including a Rose Bowl win in 2012.
At San Francisco, Harbaugh took a 49ers team that was 6-10 the year before and led them to three-straight NFC Championship games as well as a Super Bowl appearance in his four years there.
But with the move to Michigan comes a lot more pressure than what Harbaugh has had to deal with so far, including his stint with the 49ers. The Wolverines are desperate to be relevant again. There’s a very clear reason why Rich Rodriguez only last three years and there was so much pressure on athletic director Dave Brandon to resign and for Hoke to be fired. Losing isn’t acceptable anywhere, obviously, but they take this very seriously in Ann Arbor. Hopefully Harbuagh is up for that.
Also, Harbaugh hasn’t exactly been known to stick around very long. He was at Stanford and San Francisco for only four years each before bolting and at San Diego only three years before moving on. With the state of the Michigan program at the moment, it’s going to take some time to fully turn the program around and have it contending for national championships.
Speaking of the program, I expect a rough first year, especially considering Michigan only has six verbal commits for the 2015 class. Of course the signing of Harbaugh will have a monumental impact of recruiting, but that’s still a pretty big hole to dig out of and with the talent that’s there, this first year could go very poorly and if that comes to fruition, who knows what might happen.
But both Michigan and Harbaugh have signed up for this and they know what they’re getting themselves in to. And with Harbuagh’s track record and the fact that the Big Ten is there for the taking, I expect big things for the Wolverines in the coming years.
There is, however, this nagging feeling that things will go awesomely great or horrifically wrong for Michigan. Only time will tell.