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December 23, 2016 –Happy Birthday Coach Jim Harbaugh!

Posted on December 23, 2016 by Barry Gallagher

Today is a great day to wish Coach Jim Harbaugh a very happy birthday! I know that Coach Jim Harbaugh is working hard today – remember this guy is a “jackhammer!” However, I am certain that his coaches and players will take time from their bowl preparations to wish Coach Harbaugh a BIG Maize and Blue Happy Birthday. Hopefully, they will deliver him a belated birthday present with a BIG bowl WIN over Florida State next week!

In keeping with the Harbaugh theme today, I want to talk about what I call the Harbaugh Factor at Michigan. The bottom line is simple – when a Harbaugh is on the player roster or on the sidelines coaching, good things happen for Michigan Football. Let me explain.

You probably don’t know this, but a guy named Jack Harbaugh from Petoskey, Michigan was the first man named “Harbaugh” to be associated with Michigan football. He was listed on Fritz Crisler’s team roster for the 1946 season. Harbaugh was listed as a defensive back, but it is very likely that he never played a down for the Wolverines. I can tell you for sure that he did not earn any starts in 1946 and he did not earn a letter. He was probably a “one and done” guy who decided to invest his time in other ventures after the 1946 season.

I don’t know if Jack Harbaugh from Petoskey ever graduated from Michigan or not. The only thing to remember here is that Michigan finished with a record of 6 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie in 1946 which works out to a winning percentage of just over seventy-two percent (.722). The Wolverines were even better in the Big Ten that season. They finished with 5 wins, 1 loss and 1 tie. That’s a winning rate of over seventy-eight percent (.785), but it was only good enough for a second-place finish in the conference.

Jack Harbaugh Michigan Football | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Jack A. Harbaugh coached defensive backs at Michigan for Bo Schembechler from 1973 to 1979. Michigan won a ton of games with Coach Harbaugh on the staff. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Now fast forward to 1973 when a man named Jack Avon Harbaugh came from Iowa City to coach defensive backs for a guy named Bo Schembechler. Bo and his Michigan Wolverines were doing quite well before the arrival of Jack A. Harbaugh, but they did just fine with him on the Maize and Blue staff too.

During Jack A.’s time at Michigan the Wolverines posted an overall record of 66 wins, 13 losses and 3 ties. Michigan went 48-7-1 in the Big Ten from 1973 to 1973 when Jack A. Harbaugh was on the staff. That worked out to a winning percentage of just over eighty-two percent (.823) overall and almost eighty-seven percent (.866) in the Big Ten. The Wolverines won five conference titles during Harbaugh’s tenure. So, having a Harbaugh on the coaching staff was a good thing, don’t you think?

Now, we fast forward to 1984 when a young man named James Joseph Harbaugh, the second son of Jack A. Harbaugh, is named the starting quarterback of the Michigan Wolverines. Jim Harbaugh’s football career was off to a good start until he broke his arm in game five and finished that short season with a record of 3 wins, 2, losses and 0 ties. Jim Harbaugh made up for lost time over his last seasons. He helped lead the Wolverines to an overall record of 21 wins, 3 losses and 1 tie from 1985 to 1986. The Wolverines went 15-3-1 in the Big Ten and won a Big Ten Title with Harbaugh on the field. Once again, the numbers were very, very good with a Harbaugh on the roster. Michigan’s winning rate with Jim Harbaugh at quarterback was almost eighty-two percent (.817).

Once again, we jump ahead to 2015 with James Joseph Harbaugh now coaching the Michigan Wolverines. Although Coach Jim Harbaugh has not matched the numbers of his father, or the ones he put up as Michigan’s quarterback, he is doing fine! After two seasons, Coach Jim Harbaugh has won 20 games and lost 5 for an overall winning rate of eighty-percent. He is doing a little bit worse in the conference at 13 wins and 4 losses. Those numbers work out to a wining rate of seventy-six percent (.764).

Once again, the bottom line is this – Michigan wins at a very high rate when a Harbaugh coaches or plays, or is even on a Michigan Football Roster! When you add up all the numbers above you get an excellent trend when a “Harbaugh” is around Michigan football. Michigan’s “Harbaugh Factor” record is 110 wins, 23 losses and 4 ties. That is a very impressive winning rate of almost eighty-two percent (.818). The conference numbers are even more impressive! The “Harbaugh Factor” in the Big Ten Converence has produced a record of 81 wins, 15 losses and 3 ties. That works out to an impressive winning rate is just over eighty-three percent (.833).

Jim Harbaugh Miichigan Football | bigbluefootballhistory.com

James Joseph Harbaugh was an All-American quarterback for Bo Schembechler. He helped win twenty-four games as a player and continues to win games for Michigan as the Coach Jim Harbaugh. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

According to Coach Jim Harbaugh (last week), he will be around for another season. Hopefully, he will stay on to take Michigan much longer. He needs to win at least one National Championship and get the Wolverines 1,000 wins! That would be very, very good for him and for Michigan. I hope Coach Jim Harbaugh has a very happy birthday today. I hope he takes time for a little cake and ice cream too! Go Blue!




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