Today is a great day to wish “Happy Birthday” to Michigan Football Coach Jim Harbaugh. I know that Coach 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 Peach Bowl preparations to wish Coach Harbaugh a very “Maize and Blue Happy Birthday.”
(Note-Jim Harbaugh (#4), pictured above, hands the ball to #27 Thomas Wilcher as Mike Husar (#74) clears the way for another big gain in 1986. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.)
Jim Harbaugh has been coaching the Wolverines for four seasons now. I think it’s time to reflect on his accomplishments and appreciate what he has done in Ann Arbor since 2015.
Before I look at Coach Harbaugh’s numbers, I think it is only fair to look at the seven years prior to his arrival. Yes, the first seven seasons of the eight “Adidas Years” at Michigan were pretty rough! (Note: I only looked at regular season numbers for this four-year comparison.)
As you may recall, Coach Rich Rodriguez was fired after three miserable seasons. He left with an overall record of 15 wins and 21 losses which works out to a “winning” percentage of just over forty-one percent (.417). Unfortunately, Rich rod’s record was even worse in Big Ten play. The Wolverines posted a terrible record of 6 wins and 18 losses. That worked out to a “losing” percentage of seventy-five percent – yikes!
Brady Hoke turned things around immediately and posted a record of 11 wins and 2 losses in 2011. It was a great start. Unfortunately, Coach Hoke could not sustain the amazing numbers of that first season. Brady Hoke ended his career with a final regular season record of 30 wins and 18 losses. Hoke’s winning rate was almost fifty-four percent (.536). Not bad for a lot of schools, but not good enough for Michigan. Hoke’s Big Ten record finished at 18 wins and 14 losses. Again, respectable for a lot of conference teams, but not the one in Ann Arbor!
Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett had a BIG job in early December 2014. It was simple, just not easy ─ find the absolute best man to coach the Michigan Wolverine Football team. As it turned out, he got his man! James Joseph Harbaugh was introduced as the next man to coach Michigan Football on December 30, 2014.
Jim Harbaugh told the world that coming back to Michigan was a true Homecoming for him and his family. He was excited to be back and so was Michigan Nation. However, it was a “good” news/”bad” news scenario for the former All-American Wolverine quarterback. The good news was that he was the coach of the Michigan Wolverines. The bad news was that he was the coach of the Michigan Wolverines.
Yes, Michigan is the winningest program in the history of college football. The Wolverines have the highest winning percentage of any team to ever play the game. Michigan has won a record 42 Big Ten Championships and 11 National Championships. The traditions and aura surrounding Wolverine Football are astounding.
Of course, all of the great history associated with the Michigan Football program brings a heavy burden and a great responsibility. It also brings a lot of unfair criticism. Michigan fans EXPECT the Wolverines to WIN and win BIG. Ten win seasons are tolerated if they include some rival wins, but definitely are not bragged about. The Maize and Blue fan base is a very tough crowd to please because Michigan has won so many games for so many years!
So, let’s look at the numbers and see how Coach Jim Harbaugh has done in his first four regular seasons in Ann Arbor.
Right now, Jim Harbaugh has an overall regular season record of 37 wins and 11 losses. His winning percentage is just over seventy-seven percent (.771). His Big Ten numbers are almost as good. Harbaugh’s conference record is 26 wins and 9 losses. That works out to a winning rate of just over seventy-four percent (743). Oh, by the way, both numbers are higher than Michigan’s all-time winning rate of seventy-three percent (.730).
The critics like to focus on the fact that he hasn’t won any Big Ten or National Championships yet. And, yes, he has yet to beat Ohio State and Notre Dame. To the critics I say – Jim Harbaugh is on track to take Michigan back to the top of the Big Ten mountain and to a National Championship, or two, or three. The biggest problem is that Michigan was way, way, way behind Ohio State and Michigan State and some other teams. They had a long way to go in recruiting and coaching to get things back up to “expectations.”
Jim Harbaugh has nothing to apologize for right now. He is till the ABSOLUTE BEST MAN to lead the Michigan Football program. His first four regular seasons are way better than the seven years prior to his arrival. Here is one more look at how far he has brought his team.
|Years||Won-Lost||Win %||Won-Lost||Win %|
Coach Harbaugh is on track to have the top recruiting class in the Big Ten when it is all said and done in February 2019. I know that he will never be satisfied with his “numbers” until he wins some championships and regularly beats the Buckeyes, Spartans and the Domers. He will continue to work as hard as any coach in college football to get us there. Again, he has Michigan back on track to greatness. He will get us there!
I sincerely hope that Coach Jim Harbaugh has a very happy birthday today. Hopefully, he will take some time to enjoy some milk, cake and ice cream on his special day! Go Blue, Beat Florida!
Who was the first Michigan Football coach to lead his team to a bowl game victory?
Fielding Harris Yost took Michigan to the first ever Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California on January 1, 1901. I know he took great pleasure in pounding Stanford 49-0 since they had fired him in 1900. Oh, what a sweet win that must have been for Coach Yost.
Who was the first Michigan Football coach to win two bowl games in one calendar year?
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