Harbaugh hire brings hope


Jonathon Markwort

Michigan football hasn’t been the same since the retirement of Lloyd Carr. Following the 2014 season, a new coaching search began for the third time in seven years. The program with the most wins in college football history has been largely mediocre since Carr left, posting a 46-42 combined record under Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke. Following Hoke’s firing, Michigan needed to hit a home run with their next hire. Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett seems to have done just that with the hiring of Jim Harbaugh as the head coach of Michigan football.

Michigan had one top candidate for the job as soon as it opened up and never really considered anyone else. Harbaugh was the man for the job all the way and is widely considered the only man who can turn Michigan’s program around. Harbaugh has been successful as a head coach at multiple schools. At the University of San Diego, Harbaugh led the school to two eleven win seasons before being hired at Stanford. Harbaugh helped to turn around the program at Stanford as he coached the Cardinal to a 12-1 record in his final season before leaving to coach the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL. Harbaugh’s success extended into the NFL, leading the 49ers to the NFC Championship game three times in a row, including a trip to Super Bowl XLVII. Convincing Harbaugh to come back to the college game and come home to Michigan, where he played quarterback in his college days, was the best possible hire for Michigan.

Harbaugh’s success should translate back to the college game as he is known as a great recruiter. Harbaugh will be able to lure top talent to Michigan and will look to develop the recruits into stars. Since taking the Michigan job, Harbaugh has hired Rivals.com’s 2012 recruiter of the year, D.J. Durkin, as his defensive coordinator and former USC offensive line coach Tim Drevno as his offensive coordinator. Harbaugh worked with both men previously at Stanford, along with Drevno in the NFL with the 49ers. Harbaugh and his staff will look to focus on the offensive line as well as playing smash mouth football the way that Michigan did under Carr and coaches of the past.

Michigan won’t have an easy road to success as the Big Ten East is shaping up to be one of the toughest divisions in college football. The division will feature the defending champion Ohio State Buckeyes, a Michigan State team coming off of a Cotton Bowl win over Baylor and a resurging Penn State team looking to return to national prominence among other teams. The Big Ten East will also feature some of the top coaches in the country with Urban Meyer, Mark Dantonio and James Franklin leading OSU, MSU and PSU respectively. Harbaugh’s hire won’t immediately lead to Michigan favored to win the conference, let alone the division, but it will certainly help Michigan to be competitive in the near future.

While Michigan will face tough competition and Harbaugh will have significant work to do, the correct hire was made, and Michigan should be on the road to success under Harbaugh. With the program facing nearly a decade of irrelevance, Jim Hackett needed to hit a home run with the next coaching hire and he looks to have hit a grand slam with Harbaugh.