4 Days: H4IL! We Look Back At Coach Jim Harbaugh

We are only four days away until Michigan Football! 

I’ve been waiting to write about this player the entire countdown! With four days until the start of the 2016 Michigan football season, we recognize our current head coach, Jim Harbaugh.

Over the last few months, I used the countdown articles to summarize the highlights and achievements for each player that wore that number. With this one, I’m taking a different direction today. If you’ve follow college football or the NFL closely since the late 1980’s you know about Jim’s past and what he has done as a player and coach. Since 2007, he’s turned around a struggling Stanford team and quick, then coached against his brother, John, in Super Bowl XLVII, with San Fransisco. Let me quickly summarize his playing and coaching history.

Playing Career

  • Michigan (1983-1986)
  • Chicago Bears 26th pick in 1st round of 1987 NFL draft (1987–1993)
  • Indianapolis Colts (1994–1997)
  • Baltimore Ravens (1998)
  • San Diego Chargers (1999–2000)
  • Detroit Lions (2001, practice squad/offseason only)
  • Carolina Panthers (2001)

Playing Highlights

  • Pro Bowl (1995)
  • PFWA NFL Comeback Player of the Year (1995)
  • UPI AFL-AFC Player of the Year (1995)
  • Indianapolis Colts Ring of Honor
  • Fiesta Bowl Champion (1986)
  • Big Ten Player of the Year (1986)

Coaching Career 

  • Western Kentucky (1994–2001) (assistant)
  • Oakland Raiders (2002–2003) (QB)
  • U. of San Diego (2004–2006)
  • Stanford (2007–2010)
  • San Francisco 49ers (2011–2014)
  • Michigan (2015–present)

Coaching Highlights

  • Citrus Bowl Champion (2016)
  • AP NFL Coach of the Year (2011)
  • Orange Bowl champion (2011)
  • Woody Hayes Trophy (2010)
  • 2× Pioneer League champion (2005, 2006)

What’s the one word you use when describing Jim Harbaugh?

I’ve been thinking about this for the last few days as the entire country gets ready for a huge opening weekend of college football. I will get back to this later.

Jim’s approach to recruiting, satellite camps, spring break, and social media is something that created constant headlines since January. Oh yea, a rap video, we can’t forget about that. His statements and decisions are analyzed and talked about more than any recent coach, and it’s just his second year at Michigan, with no intent of leaving anytime soon. His approach to Twitter is something we’ve not seen from other coaches by recognizing greatness in his players, staff, the University of Michigan and people he respects, but has also has voiced his opinion about other coaches and their programs.

Many in the media and football feel he takes it too far and will get burned out going 100 mph all the time in everything he does. It also raises a concern about his staff and people surrounding the program to see if they will keep up. When he first was in the conversation about the Michigan job, people said he didn’t like recruiting and wouldn’t go back to college. As we saw in his first recruiting class over the past six months, he really enjoyed himself. He climbed trees, attended high school class and spent the night with recruits to really focus on them as a player and individual. His National Signing Day event was unlike anything we’ve seen before. He had a blast time taking the team to IMG Academy for spring break and playing first base coach for a Detroit Tigers spring game. In June, his satellite camps tour was bigger than last years. People saw his passion to teach the game, watch kids work hard and compete, with the opportunity for players to also get to know him and his staff better. He wore a different jersey each day to recognize local athletes and looked like he enjoyed every minute of the 30 plus camps. Let’s just say he’s enjoyed his offseason and the media, deep down, enjoyed it too, because he was something to write about while we had no football.

One way he has set Michigan apart from all other college football teams is the beginning of the Nike/Jordan brand era. The “Forged in Greatness” theme has transpired since August 1 when Jordan officially became the apparel provider and the first football team. It’s created a vibe and hype surrounding the fan base bigger than anything we’ve seen before. Recruits are taking notice, fans love it, other people think it’s a bit much, but it’s working.

When you look at everything Jim Harbaugh is doing, whether you like it or not, it’s great for the Big Ten Conference and college football. 

His approach pushes the envelope at times and makes everyone else in the college football world wonder what he will do next. He keeps people thinking and talking, even with some of his best quotes below:

  • “Be better today than you were yesterday, be better tomorrow than you were today.”
  • “Attack each day with enthusiasm unknown to mankind.”
  • “I take a vitamin everyday, it’s called a steak.”
  • “We’d rather be about it, than talk about it. That’s going to be our approach.”
  • “If worms had machine guns, than birds wouldn’t be scared of them.”
  • “Winning as a team is better than anything. It’s great to share success.”
  • “My default is ‘yes’ when asked to do things”

The One Word

The one word I would use to describe Jim Harbaugh is competitor. He’s always thrived on competing…as a player, brother, son, and now coach. He talks about competition in His interviews and press conferences.

Will Jim Harbaugh continue to coach at this speed, compete for and win championships and retire at Michigan? Only time will tell, but what we do know, is he loves three things and has them all right now..Michigan, football and coaching.

Strap on your seat belts Michigan fans, we are in for a crazy ride in a few days.

Go Blue!

David Noe

Senior Editor

Follow me on Twitter: @DavidRNoe