The University of Michigan’s 2014 season record was disastrous 5-7. Coach Brady Hoke was fired by athletic director Dave Brandon, who then resigned. According to former Michigan head coach Gary Moeller, the players practiced hard in preparation for their games. Yet, things didn’t go well on game day Saturday as they lost more games than they had won. Interim athletic director, Jim Hackett began searching for a new football coach. With much speculation former Michigan player Jim Harbaugh was hired at the end of the year, making him the 20th head coach in Michigan’s illustrious history.
Previously, coach Harbaugh arrived in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his parents and siblings in 1973. Jim’s father Jack was hired as a secondary coach by Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, and young Jim at 10 years of age had the opportunity of being surrounded by the legendary coach Bo Schembechler, his staff and his dominating football team.
Coach Harbaugh enrolled at the University of Michigan, played quarterback, was cocaptain along with Andy Moeller, earned All-American honors and was third in the Heisman voting in his senior year in 1986. Harbaugh went on to play some 14 years in the NFL [Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens, San Diego Chargers, and Carolina Panthers] and then retired. After retiring as a player, Jim Harbaugh was a quarterback coach for the Oakland Raiders in 2002 and in 2003.
Jim Harbaugh became head coach at the University of San Diego and Stanford at the college level. In both places, he turned their programs around, leaving them very sound. He left Stanford to become head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. There he had winning seasons and took his NFL team to the Super Bowl, in which he lost the close game to his brother John’s Baltimore Ravens. After leaving the Niners at the end of the 2014 season, he was in hot demand by the Oakland Raiders, as well as other NFL teams; however, he returned to his alma mater among much fanfare by the press, former players, alumni, and national kudu’s from the nations sports writers and others.
Coach Harbaugh quickly assembled a coaching staff that included: DJ Durkin; Tim Drevno; Kevin Tolbert; Greg Mattison; Greg Jackson; John Baxter; Jed Fisch; Tyrone Wheatley; Jay Harbaugh and Michael Zordich. Some of these individuals are new hires; Greg Mattison was retained; and a number have been with coach Harbaugh previously. This outstanding coaching staff has previous college and NFL playing as well as coaching experience. Coach Harbaugh knew what he was doing as he assembled a high-level of football IQ along with the ability to relate to his current players and potential players to come to his program.
Prior to the 2015 season, many pundits were predicting that Michigan would do well and likely take coach Harbaugh time to turn this program around to its former glory. Remember, it’s the winningest football team in college history. During 2014, the offensive of team played inconsistently, but was kept in some of the losing games because of its defense. The defense was expected to be coach Harbaugh’s strong point and the quarterback position was questionable, to say the least.
At present, Michigan has four victories against one defeat. His defensive team has been dominant. His offensive team led by quarterback Jake Rudock has been solid, although Jake has more turnovers than expected. However, the line play, running backs De’Von Smith, Ty Isaac, Drake Johnson and receivers Amara Darboh,Jehu Chesson, and tight end Jake Butt have at times been exceptional. Wolverines are currently ranked 18 and expect to be tested by undefeated Northwestern this coming Saturday. Although the season has not ended, it is obvious at this point that Harbaugh’s Wolverines have exceeded expectations so far. It is safe to say, there are many reasons for this turnaround.
More to follow