Jim Harbaugh Michigan Football 1986 | gobluefootballhistory.com Michigan Wolverine Football History

December 23, 2018 Happy Birthday Jim Harbaugh

Posted on December 22, 2018 by Barry Gallagher

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.)

Part I. Wolverine Football History – A Closer Look at Jim Harbaugh’s First Four Years

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.

Jim Harbaugh Michigan Football 1986 | gobluefootballhistory.com

Jim Harbaugh’s All-American and Big Ten Championship pedigree made him a perfect fit for the Michigan Coaching job. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

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.)

Rich Rodriguez Started Too Slow and Left Town Early

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 Started Fast, but Fizzled After Four Years

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!

Jim Hackett Finds His Man!

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!

Coach Harbaugh’s Regular Season Numbers from 2015 to 2018

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 %
2008-2014 45-39 .536 24-32 .429
2015-2018 37-11 .771 26-9 .743

You Gotta Believe in Coach Harbaugh

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!


Part II. Michigan Football Trivia Question – December 22, 2018

Who was the first Michigan Football coach to lead his team to a bowl game victory?

Part II. Michigan Football Trivia Answer – December 22, 2018

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.

Part III. Michigan Football Trivia Question – December 23, 2018

Who was the first Michigan Football coach to win two bowl games in one calendar year?


  • Marc Herman says:

    Please correct “Harris” to “Yost” 😉

    • Hi Marc,

      Thanks for the suggestion, but I see no need to change something that is correct. Coach Yost’s full name was Fielding Harris Yost. If that’s what his parent’s wanted his name to be, then, so be it.

      Am I missing something?

  • Matthew Blakeley says:

    I would guess Gary Moeller did it in 1994 with a January 1st Rose Bowl win over NC State and then the Holiday Bowl win over Colorado State. He would then be removed from his coaching duties shortly after for an off the field incident and replaced by Lloyd Carr prior to the 1995 season.

    • Hi Matthew,

      Yes, Mo would have been a great choice since Bo’s reputation was tarnished by his overall bowl performance. Gary Moeller won 4 out of 5 bowl games and 5 out of 6 when you include his win over alama in the 1988 Hall of Fame Bowl when he stepped in for Bo. That’s a bowl winning percentage of .833 which is the best in Michigan Football History for a coach with more than two bowl wins!

      Thanks for following my site and Go Blue, Beat Florida!

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