Last week, reports surfaced that the University of Michigan had offered San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh a 6-year, $48 million dollar offer to succeed the fired Brady Hoke as the next head coach of the Wolverines.
On Sunday, Fox Sports reporter Bruce Feldman reported that the negotiations and deal are all but finished, and that Harbaugh will be leaving the 49ers shortly after the team’s final game against the Arizona Cardinals. He will be introduced as Michigan’s new head man this week.
Michigan moved quickly and made an offer to the guy they’ve wanted all along. Harbaugh will become Michigan’s 3rd head coach in their last seven seasons since Lloyd Carr retired after the 2007 season ended.
Here is what you need to know:
1. Jim Harbaugh Played Quarterback at Michigan from 1983-86
Harbaugh was a very successful player for the Wolverines. In 1986, he was named the Big Ten Player of the Year and finished 3rd in the Heisman Trophy voting. He was eventually drafted 26th overall by the Chicago Bears in the 1987 NFL Draft, but had a middling professional career as opposed to his time at Michigan.
2. Although it Ended Abruptly, Harbaugh was Successful in San Francisco
In Harbaugh’s four years as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, he finished 43-19-1, good for a .694 winning percentage. How good is that? In just four seasons as an NFL coach, Harbaugh ranks 5th in NFL history in winning percentage behind: Guy Chamberlin, John Madden, Vince Lombardi and George Allen. In other words: he was really good.
3. Harbaugh was a Wildly Successful Playoff Coach as Well
Harbaugh took the San Francisco 49ers to three consecutive NFC Championship Games in his 1st three years as head coach — the first time that had ever been done before. In fact, no head coach in NFL history before Harbaugh had taken his team to three consecutive Conference Championship Games, let alone in his first three seasons.
Harbaugh’s overall playoff record in San Fran was 5-3, and he came within one 1st down of possibly winning Super Bowl XLVII against his older brother John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens.
4. Harbaugh and His Family Loves Ann Arbor, Mich
In addition to ESPN’s Adam Schefter Facebook post and report that Harbaugh’s family loves Ann Arbor, Mich and considers it the best place he has ever lived.
According to the MLive.com article from December 19, Harbaugh’s father is also encouraging his son:
The report stats that Harbaugh’s father, Jack (who coached at Michigan in the 1970s), is very fond of current Michigan interim athletic director Jim Hackett (who played at Michigan in the 1970s), and that his wife is also OK with moving to Ann Arbor should Harbaugh opt to take the Michigan job.
5. The Interest From Both Sides Was Mutual Going Back to 2010-11
After the 2010 season, Michigan fired then head coach Rich Rodriguez. At the time, Harbaugh was still head coach of the Stanford Cardinal and had been courted by every NFL team who had a major head coaching vacancy (San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins) as well as… the Michigan Wolverines.
Eventually, Harbaugh settled on taking the San Francisco 49ers’ head coaching job because of proximity to his already existing home in Northern California and the allure of an NFL opportunity, but Harbaugh had always semi-coveted the potential of coaching his alma mater:
I hate to compare any two situations, because it always, by nature, diminishes one of them. Michigan’s a great job, great university. Stanford’s a great job, a great university. Just felt right. Those are my two universities, Michigan and Stanford. But ultimately, it was on a level of the National Football League, everybody plays on a level playing field. I think it was the ultimate competitive challenge for me, and one that I really, really wanted to do.”
It seemed like Jim Harbaugh becoming the head coach of the Michigan Wolverines at some point was all but inevitable.