Jim Harbaugh Can Thank Bo Schembechler 5 Million Times
Jim Harbaugh has a tremendous responsibility to put it mildly. According to an article in Time dated September 16, 2013, the University of Michigan’s football team revenue for 2011-2012 was in excess of $86 million. Let me repeat, $86 million was the total team football revenue and that placed Michigan second to Texas, whose revenue was over $103 million for the same football season. Of Michigan’s total revenue, their profit was over $61 million so they can easily afford to pay Jim’s $5 million plus or minus salary per year. And just think of the 2015 season’s worth of the Wolverines home games and all the revenue that is going to generate. The city of Ann Arbor should thank the Michigan Wolverine football team.
It does not hurt to have these outlandish television contracts, souvenir hackers, Stadium vendor’s, parking attendants, hotels, restaurants, etc. that add and contribute heavily to the revenue. Of course, one could make an argument that the beginning of college football mania goes back to the late 1890s, when the sport became more popular. In fact, the 1894 Harvard- Yale football game generated about $119,000, which translates into about $3 million today.
However, if I was to give credit to the more modern big business of college football, I would turn to the idyllic college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan in to 1968. The new athletic director at the time was Don Canham. In 1968, Michigan had an 8-2 record and was coached by Bump Elliott. Unfortunately, for Bump his Wolverines lost to Ohio State’s Buckeyes coached by legend, Woody Hayes by the score of 50 to 14. That was all Canham could stomach. Essentially, athletic director Canham removed Elliott and hired an unknown named Glenn Edward “Bo” Schembechler Jr. at the end of 1968.
Athletic director Canham and, Coach Bo Schembechler were a dynamic duo. The Batman- Robin image does not apply here as both were giants in their own right. Canham enlarged the Stadium, marketed jerseys and other sports paraphernalia, involved the alumni in many creative ways, created new team rivalries with other universities, got involved with television and marketed, Michigan football across the nation. Canham set the standard and led the way for college athletic directors.
New head coach Bo Schembechler complemented the marketing genius of Canham. He was part of the 10 year war -Hayes and Schembechler’s teams won or shared the Big Ten conference every season; and compiled a 234-65-8 record from 1969 to 1989; his teams in all but one season were ranked; and 16 times his teams were in the final top 10 in both major polls. All Michigan did was win with Bo Schembechler at the helm. In essence, Canham, and Schembechler set the stage and laid the groundwork for Michigan success. On a side note, in 1982, Texas A&M offered Coach Schembechler nearly $3 million for 10 years. That was the richest contract in the history of college athletics at that time. Schembechler reportedly said that he decided to stay at Michigan because he came to the conclusion that there are things more important in this world than money. He could’ve said or thought to himself that I’d rather coach Jim Harbaugh, instead. Yes, Jim Harbaugh was fortunate that Bo didn’t leave when given the opportunity of a lifetime. Things turned out well for Bo by staying and turned out great for Jim by playing and learning from the best.
Jim Harbaugh, it’s up to you to keep Ann Arbor, and the University of Michigan number one. There was a recent poll that ranked over 400 public universities on 6 criteria’s. To no one’s surprise, the University of Michigan ranked number one on that list. And to show your appreciation Jim, thank Bo Schembechler for your huge salary.