Jim Harbaugh’s Pedigree for Success
The Michigan football program was trending downward after the 2014 season. Following a 7-6 record in 2013, The Wolverines finished an abysmal 5-7 in 2014 and didn’t qualify for a bowl game. They decided to make a change from head coach Brady Hoke to former San Francisco 49er coach Jim Harbaugh. Fast forward two years and they are a team with championship aspirations.
Jim Harbaugh is a polarizing figure; you either love him or hate him. With that being said, there is no denying the impact that he has had on teams at both the college and professional level. Following a very successful stint with Stanford University, Harbaugh moved up to the professional level, where he took a 49er’s team that had not made the playoffs since 2002 to a 13-3 record and an appearance in the NFC championship game in his first year.
Harbaugh brought the team to the doorstep of a championship the next two years as well, with a super bowl loss in 2012 and another defeat in the NFC championship game in 2013. He ended his tenure with San Francisco in 2014 after finishing the season 8-8 and missing the playoffs.
The football world was shocked the following year when he decided to move back down from the professional ranks and take the head coaching job at his alma mater, Michigan.
As soon as he took the reins at Michigan, he began to revive the program, drawing in big recruits and getting the most out of the players already on the roster. His team put up a staggering 408 points in 2015, 157 more than the team put up the year prior under coach Hoke. That improvement carried over to the defensive side as well, as the defense gave up 56 less points in 2015.
These statistics helped lead Michigan to a 10-3 record in Harbaugh’s first year and a 41-7 victory over the University of Florida in the Citrus bowl.
With a year under his belt, Harbaugh was able to bring in the sixth best recruiting class in the country in for 2016, including the number one recruit in the country, defensive end Rashan Gary. Michigan entered the season as the seventh ranked team in the country according to the AP Poll and has since climbed up to number four with impressive blowout wins over Hawaii, UCF and Colorado.
Coach Harbaugh was able to get Stanford and the 49ers to the top of their respective leagues, so it will be interesting to see if he can do the same at Michigan. Tough matchups against Big Ten opponents such as Penn State, Michigan State and Ohio State will be the true test to see if they can fulfill their goal of being a playoff contender.
John Sloan is a senior majoring in print journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.