Jim Harbaugh, Bo, and the Michigan Family

Submitted by stephenrjking on January 23rd, 2013 at 9:05 PM

[ed: bump.]

Jim Harbaugh, Michigan Quarterback

There is a special fondness for one’s earliest sports memories. They form the backdrop of experience against which all future events are contextualized. 

My earliest datable memory is Kirk Gibson hitting a home run in the bottom of the 8th inning in Game Five of the 1984 World Series; from that day until his retirement he was my favorite baseball player. I learned to cheer for Isiah Thomas and Gary Grant. I cheered for Yzerman, and accepted that the Lions were always bad. And I rooted for Michigan football, with Jamie Morris and Mark Messner.

And Jim Harbaugh.

He won the Fiesta Bowl. He beat Ohio State with clutch play. He guaranteed a victory in ’86, and then beat Ohio State again.* He led Michigan to a Rose Bowl. To a young boy, he was a hero, everything that the winged helmet was supposed to be about. To everyone at Michigan, he was a Michigan Man.

*Someone recently argued on the board that Harbaugh essentially rode the coattails of Jamie Morris to the win, belittling his role in the game. That’s acceptable logic, if you’re willing to assert that Denard rode the coattails of Junior Hemingway to wins over Virginia Tech and Notre Dame last season--any takers?

*  *  *  *  *

Fast Forward to 2007. I was visiting Michigan from California, where I was attending school. I was enjoying one of the things I really missed about Ann Arbor--walking around the Ann Arbor-Saline Road Meijer after midnight. As I ambled past the U-Scan lanes, I happened to glance at the newspaper display. And there it was, front page.

Jim Harbaugh Criticizes Michigan Academics

“Jim,” I muttered to myself. “You fool. What are you doing?”

*  *  *  *  *

Jim Harbaugh was calling out the academic integrity of Michigan Athletics. He was dropping Bo’s name (after Bo died, something that sat poorly with myself and others) and using it as a cudgel against Michigan. And, by all appearances, he was doing so in an arrogant way to burnish his own program’s reputation.

Nobody in the Michigan camp liked it. Now, I suppose there could be discussion about whether or not he had any legitimate points. Many blogs, including this one, vehemently refuted his accusations and sharply criticized him for making them. I believe it can safely be said that the vast majority of the Michigan family disagreed with both the content and the method of his message.

But this is not about what he said in 2007. This is not about whether or not he wanted to “come home” after Rich Rodriguez left.* I want to address a debate that has bounced around the Michigan family for more than five years now:

Is Jim Harbaugh one of us?

*Critics will occasionally take a dig at Harbaugh, suggesting that by not coming to Michigan he was stabbing us in the back. I do not buy it--he never indicated that he would come, he wanted to go to the NFL, and the NFL wanted him. And his last two years have proven beyond any shadow of a doubt that the NFL was a good move for him. Now, I have no doubt that Harbaugh would have won and won big at Michigan, and little doubt that he would have left for the NFL after a short tenure; I also believe that he would have left the program in great shape, as he did at Stanford and as Nick Saban did at LSU. But, in retrospect, it is clear that Michigan’s opportunity to get Harbaugh was after Lloyd retired--only nobody knew that he was this great yet.

*  *  *  *  *

As a Michigan fan, I respectfully submit three basic arguments asserting why Harbaugh should be accepted, wholly and without qualification, as a Michigan Man.

1. He's Really Good

Jim and Colin

The first reason is simple: Harbaugh, as a successful ex-Michigan player, is a good advertisement for the University. His past Michigan experiences, his wins, and in particular his relationship with Bo are well-known and frequently spoken of. Michigan alum Rich Eisen is a good example of how this works:

So a well-known NFL Net personality is unreservedly promoting Bo, Harbaugh, and the intrinsic Michigan connection? Outstanding.

It’s a pity that Brady didn’t make it to the Super Bowl this year, because the ex-Michigan quarterback angle would have been unavoidable. The success of Michigan Men in the NFL is unquestionably good for the image of the program. That Harbaugh is a coach who is heavily influenced by Bo is just another bonus. Michigan doesn’t exactly have a large coaching tree, but Harbaugh is carrying on Bo’s legacy both in word and in deed. 

And don’t think that Bo wouldn’t have been beaming with pride watching Harbaugh pound the football down Atlanta’s throat on the ground in the NFC championship game. That was Michigan Football on the field last Sunday.*

*I thought Harbaugh was crazy for trying to turn Stanford into a bruiser team in the era of the spread. Until he took Toby Gerhart and Stanford into the Coliseum and ran up the score on the Big Bad Trojans. Now he's taking a bruiser team to the Super Bowl. I guess MANBALL still works.


2. We Are Not Other Schools

I understand irritation at someone who says something against the school, even one of our own. That is natural, and there’s nothing out of the ordinary about it. When Harbaugh made specific, negative assertions against the program, he was rebutted and the reaction was negative. And that’s good.

But a fanbase crosses the line when it attempts to excommunicate one of its own because it doesn’t like everything a former athlete says. And that is particularly true of Michigan, a place that most of us believe is known for knowledge and dignity.

When someone expresses unending loathing for Harbaugh or suggests that he is not a “true” Michigan Man, they are acting in exactly the same way that Ohio State fans did with Kirk Herbstreit. Remember that? Herbstreit, a man so proud of his alma mater that he brought his twin boys on the Gameday platform in OSU gear, had to leave the state and move to Nashville to get away from the Ohio State fanbase.

Is that who we are? 

Much of the fun of sports rivalries is pretending that there is something about our own team or university that is qualitatively superior to our rivals in areas other than the football field. Much of this is in fun--students sing “If You Can’t Get Into College Go to State,” but in real life any reasonable person would accept a Michigan State education in their doctor or teacher. Or landscaper or merchandise packager. But I think we genuinely believe that our fanbase is more rational, more appropriate, and more mature than the fanbase of Ohio State. We all feel this way, and anyone who has attended UM-OSU at the Shoe in Michigan gear absolutely knows it.

Yet, if we cut off our own, if we make membership in our “club” subject to holding only the party line at all times, on punishment of total estrangement, we are no better than them.

3. Michigan is a Family

Families are funny things. Who doesn’t have the weird uncle, crazy aunt, loner brother, quirky sister in theirs? What family doesn’t have its disagreements, its tensions, its struggles?

Michigan is not just a factory of buildings that produce automaton students after four years. It is not a sports franchise whose success is judged solely on wins and losses. It is not just a fancy helmet or a fight song or a giant 110,000 seat hole in the ground with plastic grass on the floor.

Michigan is a family. A family with history. A family with character, and characters. A family that speaks warmly of grandparents like Yost and Crisler. A family of people who are flawed, unique, different, imperfect. Connected by sinews that surpass any one element of its unequalled tradition. 

This is a family that loves Bob Ufer’s hopeless homerism, but still enjoys the bubbly professionalism of Beckman. This is a family that reveled in Woodson’s swagger and athleticism, but marvels at the selfless dedication of Kovacs. This is a family where “Even slower than he looks” Tom Brady and “Dilithium” Denard Robinson can play the same position, and win.

It is a family with success stories. Dentists. Doctors. Businessmen. Long-winded broadcasters. All-time-great quarterbacks. Super Bowl coaches.

It is a family with frustrating flameouts. Tony Bowles. Chris Floyd’s job search. Rick Leach. Drew Henson. 

This is a family that has suffered together. OSU ’73. Iowa ’85. Notre Dame ’89. Colorado ’94. OSU ’06. 2008, all of it.

This is a family that has triumphed together. Fiesta. Orange. Sugar. Rose. And Everest in ’97.

Families have their ups and their downs. And they include people who aren’t perfect and aren’t always as kind and supportive as they ought to be. I grew up in a loving family, raised with good values and strong beliefs and lots of togetherness. As it happens, since my Dad died ten years ago a member of his family has turned away from much of what my parents stood for and has, at times, said things which other family members found (quietly) troubling. Do we reject the person? 

No. They are still as much a part of our family as they ever were; they still receive the same love, the same acceptance, the same participation. A family ought to accept someone as a person, even if they disagree with a choice or an action; accepting a person does not imply endorsement of everything they do. That is part of what love is. 

Michigan is a family. It is a family that has nurtured many great members of the community; it has also produced people that have made poor choices and hurt themselves or others. But a family never cuts off their own. 

Jim Harbaugh hurt the Michigan family with what he said. He offended people. He spoke inaccurately in a way that injured the reputation of the school. There’s no question this was difficult. But, no matter what he said, he is still one of us. Just as you love the brother or father or daughter who said or did something hurtful, Michigan should embrace Harbaugh for what he is.

*  *  *  *  *

He is a great coach, playing football exactly how Bo taught him to.

We are a great fanbase, that does not disown someone for breaking the party line.

Michigan is a family, that will love its own and accept them even when they say or do something that is hurtful.

When Jim Harbaugh spoke against Michigan, he was an idiot. He is, in the course of his life, also frequently abrasive, arrogant, and even mean. He is a jerk.

But he is a member of the Michigan family.

His is our idiot. He is our jerk.

He is our Big Ten Title-winning quarterback.

And, coaching in the Super Bowl, he is a Michigan Man.

harbaugh at michigan



January 23rd, 2013 at 11:01 AM ^

i do want Harbaugh as the coach of my favorite football team

i also do not want my dentist at my thanksgiving table

i do want my dentist being my dentist


pretty sure none of us are bad people.


January 24th, 2013 at 12:51 PM ^

Sometimes people in our family tell us things we do not want to hear.  He thought he could have handled a more rigorous academic load as a student and was steered away from it.  Who would doubt him now?

But since they ARE family we SHOULD listen, because God knows that if the ascertion comes from outside of our family we are going to dismiss it.  Good luck Jim; kick your bro's ace!


January 23rd, 2013 at 11:03 AM ^

First, I don't believe in the "Michigan Man" meme.  Its so amorphous and ambiguous that everyone and no one could be or not be one.  (That sentence makes sense in my own brain.)

Second, if there is such a thing as a "Michigan Man" I like to think that such a person would not use severe critiques of Michigan for their own person gain at the expense of fellow alumni and current students.  Is the school perfect?  Of course not.  But I sure as hell didn't badmouth Michigan when I was at a different graduate school!  Staying true will always serve me better in the long run than being a fairweather Michigan Man.  So, for me, if there is such a thing, Harbaugh will never go down as a "Michigan Man" in my books.  He will join the ranks of players that were once great in the maize and blue but are no longer loyal and true (similar to all those a--hole NFL guys that decided it would be cool to name their high schools instead of Michigan when introducing themselves on MNF).  They can't have it both ways, ESPECIALLY if they never make amends.

david from wyoming

January 23rd, 2013 at 11:17 AM ^

similar to all those a--hole NFL guys that decided it would be cool to name their high schools instead of Michigan when introducing themselves on MNF

lolwut? What if they just like their high school more? You know, the place they first started playing tackle football and fell in love with the game. This doesn't mean they are assholes nor that they hate Michigan.

Dutch Ferbert

January 23rd, 2013 at 11:51 AM ^

What kind of a-hole would want to honor the place where everything started?  Why would an a-hole dishonor the mostly adult fan base of a college football team by giving kids from his hometown and high school the excitement of hearing their school's name during an NFL game's introduction?

Seriously, I do not understand how people get so offended over this.


January 23rd, 2013 at 11:55 AM ^

He is what he is, but saying stupid things is not enough to "excommunicate" someone in my book. Even if it's against his own. Be mad at them, sure. But usually it's actions that really would have to put you out. If you found out he was cheating up a storm at Stanford, I'd say he didn't learn any lessons at Michigan, and wasn't a Michigan Man. Or if we found out he was a part of or covering up child rape, that could get you out of the club. He had some drunk driving problems, but we'd lose a lot of guys if that was an automatic out.

So no, he's not my favorite guy to wear the maize and blue anymore, but I don't begrudge him or his success. Though I think a couple of your analogies are a bit off. I don't think it compares in anyway to the Ohio State Herbstreit thing. He's in the media, not the coach of another program. Michigan has nothing to do with the Stanford job.  Desmond said some not so nice things about Rich, but no one has chased him out of town. That's more similiar. Herbtstreit saying there are problems at OSU isn't self-serving; there's no reason but self serving reasons for Harbaugh to say things against Michigan. And it's not wrong doing after the fact he's commenting on; he's bringing up (and as Don points out, making up) things. 

The family has had questionable behavior before. I mean, you list Yost as a grandfather, but he was the racist grandfather. A product of his time and place of his youth, and for the most part we let that slide. And should. So I can let slide that Harbaugh shoots from the hip and often misses with his words. There has never been a filter on his brain to his mouth. Sometimes we like it. Sometimes we don't. (If he hadn't beat OSU, it wouldn't be remembered so fondly). But my biggest issue isn't WHAT he said, but WHEN he said it. If he had said it when Bo was still alive, and could have defended himself, I might have had respect for it. But he knows Bo would have said he was full of shit, and he didn't have the courage to face his old coach after saying that statement. That's just plain cowardly.  And that was his biggest sin.

You have it as an aside, but yeah, I'd say we won the Sugar Bowl due to Hemingway making great plays, in SPITE of Denard.  (And because of defense). He was pretty bad that day.  And Junior bailed him out. Wouldn't say it about ND, because even though it took a little while for Denard to show up, he was spectacular for a quarter and a half. We won because and with him that day.

So Harbaugh is a jerk. But I'll probably be rooting for him in the Super Bowl. Though the other Michigan guys put it over the top. I wouldn't mind seeing his brother get the better of him, but then that'd mean Ray Lewis gets another win.  Cleveland being pissed really doesn't offset that. But if he were playing Tom Brady I'd be rooting for him to lose. Because that's what would help the program more. I agree with you he's where he wanted to be and where he's destined for the most success. If he wanted to be here, he'd be here. 

I wonder though how much of this is inspired by him having success and wanting to latch onto it.  I guess the question is, if the 49ers had been 3-13 this year, would we still have had a diary on how he's still "A Michigan Man"?


January 23rd, 2013 at 11:57 AM ^

I put in that part about Yost on purpose for just the reason you mentioned, and I was oh-so-tempted to bring it up after the first response in the thread. He was flawed, but he's Fielding H Yost.

The post exists because Harbaugh's success makes him a frequent topic of conversation, but my feelings for him aren't influenced by his success. I placed the pragmatic argument first, because it is the weakest of the three.


January 23rd, 2013 at 12:15 PM ^

I couldn't disagree more with all the Harbaugh haters. The Michigan family should have embraced what he said about education, and move on. What should have been by our AD or Carr, after his comments, were, 

1. nothing


2.   "Jim cares enough about his alma mater to speak what he believes as the truth, adn wants them to reach higher"

I have no problem with what Harbaugh said... one who loves his alma mater so much, and sees how Stanford does it, and speaks out about it.  Perhaps it was a bit inaccurate and self-serving, but I understood his intent and message.  Was it self-serving? I cannot discount that, however, I choose to give him the benefit of the doubt, as he has earned it.  Was it bitterness toward Carr, who spurned him?  I cannot discount that either.

Now, the nonsensical line about "always wanting to play for Stanford more than anywhere else" or whatever the line was... I do not believe that for one minute. He wanted to play for Michigan, first and foremost.


January 23rd, 2013 at 11:24 PM ^

with the last paragraph. Harbaugh was at a press conference being introduced as the head coach of the Stanford Cardinal. I am sure that when his father was coaching there, and he was painting the numbers on the field, he DID want to play for Stanford more than anything. It is a story which relates to the moment he was in. That does not change the fact that when he  was ready to choose a college he chose Michigan becasue he wanted to play there more. I don't beleive this makes him a liar at all.

Smash Lampjaw

January 23rd, 2013 at 1:38 PM ^

as always, and pastoral, as we might expect from someone trained or experienced in family counselling. As I recall, you had some hard sayings in the PSU threads that I did not enjoy, but you were probably correct.

Tripp Wellbourne Indentity, who is one of my favorite posters, makes the point, I think, that college ties do not equal family ties. It is a useful analogy, though. At one point our connections to the university were voluntary, but if we are going to proudly claim a connection to Denard, or Tom Brady, or Mike Wallace, or whoever, there are also a few Dr. H.H. Holmes and Ted Kaczynski's up in the attic to account for. I don't really equate any of them with my family, but I would love to have Jim Harbaugh over for Thanksgiving dinner, and I hated running into my dentist at dinner in Disney World.


January 23rd, 2013 at 1:46 PM ^

I'm honestly not sure where you're going with this diary.  You're implying that because many on the board have posted that they won't root for the 49ers in the Super Bowl because of Harbaugh's conduct and comments against Michigan is tantamount to excommunicating him from the Michigan family?  Just as you suggest that we should always regard Harbaugh as one of us despite anything he might do against us, I would offer that just because Harbaugh is one of us, that doesn't entitle him to our unquestioned support in anything he does.

As a guy who cut his teeth on Michigan fandom watching the likes of Jim Harbaugh and Anthony Carter, I can honestly say that I won't be pulling for the 49ers to win a week from Sunday.  That said, if anyone ever asks me who is the greatest Michigan QB, my answer is always, "Jim Harbaugh".  If I ever sit for an MGoProfile with SixZero and he comes to the inevitable "Who is your favorite Michigan player?" question, my answer would probably be, "Jim Harbaugh".

While it's true that Harbaugh is part of the Michigan family, we all have members of our family that we don't like being around.  Everyone has that brother, or uncle, or cousin that they don't want to talk to at family gatherings.  Harbaugh occupies that role in the Michigan family these days

Also, I think comparing Harbaugh with Herbstreit is something of a false equivalency.  Herbstreit had to leave Ohio because he had the "audacity" to be objective in his sports broadcaster job.  Harbaugh acted in a far more malicious manner by trying to impugn the academic standards of his alma mater in an effort to gain an advantage in the recruiting arena.  Further, had Coach Schembechler been alive, he would have NEVER said what he said, which makes the act cowardly.  Finally, since the accusations have ultimately been shown to be untrue or at best exaggerated, it makes the act dishonest.  Despite all that, last I checked, Harbaugh wasn't run out of California for what he said by Michigan alumni, so Michigan fan reaction <<< Ohio fan reaction.

But Harbaugh has always been an ambitious, win at all costs type.  It's served him well, but I'm still glad that he's not our coach.  Not because of the things he said, but because I think we're best served with a man who regards the head coaching position at the University of Michigan as a culmination job.  Harbaugh wouldn't have seen it that way, and I don't begrudge him wanting to be an NFL coach, but I'm not interested in us being his stepping stone to that goal.

So I won't be pullng for Jim Harbaugh and the Niners on Super Bowl Sunday because he's proven to be kind of a dick and I don't like to see guys who act like unscrupulous dickheads rewarded with their ultimate goal.  That might be a bit naive, but it's how I feel.  Still, should the day come when Michigan welcomes back the '85 or '86 teams during the intermission of a Michigan game, and Harbaugh is there, I will still stand up and cheer for him because he is one of the Michigan family and he gave me lots of great memories.


January 24th, 2013 at 8:20 AM ^

You said that the reason you will not be pulling for Jim Harbauggh and the 49'ers is because he has proven to be kind of a dick. Logic says that you will not pull for teams who have dicks on them. You are correct that the logic is flawed, if you believe that being one who participates in and covers up a double murder does not automatically make you sort of a dick.


January 24th, 2013 at 9:01 AM ^

I'm not really pulling for either team because as they say, I don't have a dog in this fight.  I may not even watch the game, because I really have little interest in the outcome.  That said, any emotional investment I make in the game, it won't be because Jim Harbaugh played QB for Michigan.  I'll leave it at that.

If you want to argue about Ray Lewis and the merits of the media celebrating his career in the next couple of weeks, there was a whole separate thread dedicated to that conversation.  I direct you to that.  Please stop putting words in my mouth.


January 23rd, 2013 at 1:55 PM ^

Once Hoke retires and Jim is tired winning Superbowl's, I could see him wanting to come back and coach Michigan for a decade or so before he retirees. I'm talking 10 to 20 years down the road, but I think it is possible.

I was attending Michigan when Jim was QB! I really liked him and he was probably a great leader as QB. Though, the '86 Gopher loss was unbearable! He probably has the personality, temperament and leadership qualities that are needed to take an NFL team to a Superbowl or a college team to win a national championship!


January 23rd, 2013 at 2:29 PM ^

Harbaugh is never coming to coach Michigan under these conditions.  Coaches don't get tired of winning Super Bowls to return to coach their alma mater.  MIchigan is also not going to turn around in 10 or 20 years and hire a senior citizen Jim Harbaugh (Jim just turned 49, which means he's pushing 60-70 in your scenario) to take over our program after Hoke hangs it up.

The only way Harbaugh ever winds up coaching Michigan is if he fails in the NFL (doesn't seem likely) while Hoke concurrently fails at Michigan (certainly hope not).  Bottom line, a scenario which sees Jim Harbaugh returning to Michigan to be the head coach probably means some years of things not going well for Michigan.  Let's hope for a better future than that.


January 23rd, 2013 at 3:23 PM ^

He's less than 6 years away from being a so called senior citizen!

Greg said he got tired of the pro game and probably is the big reason he wanted to come back as our DC! I'm sure the salary helps but I think he had a desire to be apart of the college game again. Greg is 63 and I'm hoping he will want of continue as our DC through age 70 and I think he will and he will do a great job.

So, I think Jim would do a great job as coach here when he is 63 and may have tired of the pro game by then?



January 23rd, 2013 at 10:39 PM ^

My guess is his wife was concerned about Bo's health and pressured him to retire in '89. She was probably correct since the stress involved running a major college program and given his heart conditions may had lead to a quicker demise if he had continued coaching into the early 90s. Retiring at 65 probably added years to his life. Unfortunately, after he retired Millie got cancer and passed away. My guess is that Bo would have liked to have coached a few more years.

Bando Calrissian

January 24th, 2013 at 12:21 AM ^

Bo likely would have died prior to the 1988 Hall of Fame Bowl if he hadn't happened to have been at the hospital when he had a heart attack.  By the late 80s, Bo was coaching on borrowed time, and he would have been the first to tell you that.  Knowing what we know now about his health, it's a minor miracle his legendary sidelines tirades towards the end didn't trigger a massive coronary (Iowa '88 and the '90 Rose Bowl immediately come to mind).  

Would Bo have liked to coach a few more years?  Sure.  But by the 1988 and 1989 seasons, the writing was on the wall.  Millie probably had a little to do with it, but Bo knew the score.  And given the success of the teams Mo had in the years that followed, I'd say he left that program in pretty decent shape.


January 24th, 2013 at 8:22 AM ^

Understand, I'm not suggesting that guys in their 60's can't coach at the top levels of college football.  Clearly , there are numerous examples that support the opposite.  My point is that a coaching succession plan that revolves around bringing in a guy in his 60's to take command of a program is not a plan that allows for long term stability.  Hence, I think the odds of Jim Harbaugh ever prowling the sidelines of Michigan Stadium as the head man is 0.0.


January 23rd, 2013 at 2:04 PM ^

why we necessarily have to form a line for Harbaugh.

I'm usually strongly appreciative of your posts, and get that he was a great QB and is a successful coach. But I just don't see why I'm required to like him. And I'm, in fact, probably one of the rare people who appreciated the substance--if not timing and effect--of his comments about UM football and academics.

I don't give a damn about the manball aspects of the argument, either. For me Harbaugh just represents a mean aggressiveness that is one of the things I don't like about the sport, and which disparate people like Lloyd, Brady, and even Rich Rod, more personable and modest, tend to help undo. And I'm even a former SF guy and longtime Niners fan!



January 23rd, 2013 at 2:05 PM ^

Let's not forget about this little gem from last year -

When Crean explained that his brother-in-law volunteered to moonlight as a student manager for the night, a smiling Harbaugh hollered from the back of the room, "I wanted to contribute in some way." Then when Crean was asked if he was concerned Harbaugh was a Michigan spy, the ex-Wolverines quarterback shouted, "Hell no."

Reading things like that, his earlier comments, and his seeming (maybe because of my total ignorance on the matter) lack of a relationship with Michigan's AD makes me wonder if he really gives a fuck whether we accept him as a "Michigan Man" or not.

RB's Mustache

January 23rd, 2013 at 3:17 PM ^

Harbaugh never talks about UM from what I've heard. He could care less about "us".

Bo proud? Please! You saw what Bo did to Frieder. What do you think Bo would say about Harbaugh's comments? The Team, the Team, the Team. Not "Backstab the Team." After Bo is dead of course.

You can sum up your article thusly:

"When Jim Harbaugh spoke against Michigan, he was an idiot. He is, in the course of his life, also frequently abrasive, arrogant, and even mean. He is a jerk."

End of story. Not a Michigan Man.


January 23rd, 2013 at 4:30 PM ^

if we're having this conversation if Harbaugh's 49ers team lost last weekend or if he lost the "guarantee" game against Ohio. This willingness to reclaim Jim as one of ours, a true Michigan Man, correlates directly and solely, for most, with winning. People like winners. They like to be associated with them. And while Harbaugh is a lot of things, good and bad, he definitely has this winning thing down pat.


steve wooderson

January 23rd, 2013 at 5:39 PM ^

Is that the insecure Lloyd Carr chose to surround himself with mediocre assistants who were no threat to his control.

You think it's an accident that coaching at Michigan for 15 years and the only head coaches he produced was the inept Mike Debord (12-34 at Central Michigan) and Hoke?

Only Carr would've passed on hiring Harbaugh as QB coach for Scot Loeffler.  Compare their respective resumes and try not to laugh.

Just like Carr sabotaged RR, he screwed us by driving Harbaugh away from A2.


January 23rd, 2013 at 9:50 PM ^

At the time Loeffler had a better coaching record, and had recommendations from guys like Tom Brady (guys like Urban Meyer thought e could coach too). He only coached 13 years, and just off te top of my head I can think of Stan Parrish and Ron English. He has coordinators on teams like Louisville and oh, Michigan, on his staff. (Not to mention the Giants and Bucs) His former assistants have a nice set of Super Bowl and National Championship rings.

Stop speaking of things you are completely ignorant on and making us all stupidier with your rumblings.


January 23rd, 2013 at 5:45 PM ^

actually highlights a "hole" in the UM athletic department between Bo's passing and Brandon's ascension.

Harbaugh is a gruff, smart and temperamental coach who took a poke at his mentor Bo. Heck, Bo took a few swipes at his mentor.

I'm not excusing his poke and Hart's rebuttal was poorly handled, but UM lacked the leadership to immediately stop it and mend "the family." Bo would have placed a call to Harbaugh and others to resolve it in private. End of story in a functional family.

DB and Hoke fixed much of the fracture and I firmly hope Harbaugh gets back on the UM bandwagon.


January 24th, 2013 at 1:02 AM ^

From the OP:

"His past Michigan experiences, his wins, and in particular his relationship with Bo are well-known and frequently spoken of. Michigan alum Rich Eisen is a good example of how this works:"

I am kind of surprised that neither of you noticed that in the OP. <insert humorous emoticon here>


January 23rd, 2013 at 9:41 PM ^

I think Larry Harrison is the crazy uncle of Michigan football and Jim Harbaugh is the deadbeat dad.

The Herbstreit thing is not comparible.  Herbstreit's job is to publicly provide a fair and balanced take on matters related to college football, including Ohio State.  It was not Harbaugh's job to attack Michigan in an unprovoked manner the way he did.  It served no purpose related to doing his job.  He could have picked any school to attack, or left it open as "other schools," but by criticizing his alma mater, he knew he'd get his message into the national media.

Secondly, and this is often forgotten, he then defended that attack several times in the press.  He used it to raise his own profile.  And when Hart criticized Harbaugh, Harbaugh came back to criticize Carr for letting his players act that way.  The whole thing was far too ugly to act like it never happened.

So getting back to Larry Harrison ... everyone remembers him, right?  Big defensive tackle, who was a starter and becoming a pretty good player until it was discovered that he was lurking through the neighborhoods of Ann Arbor with his pants down, exposing himself to women.  Even going up on their front porches and exposing himself through the windows.

So hypothetically, say that Harrison had gone on to become the best defensive tackle in the NFL, going to the Pro Bowl every year.  He then retired and became a great coach, making it to the Super Bowl.  Would we have to embrace him then as "part of the Michigan family?"

I know these are very different events that I'm comparing.  One was a criminal act that embarassed the program unintentionally.  The other was an intentional act to embarass the program, but not criminal.  But I think most would say Harrison is still persona non grata - yes?

I don't think that Harbaugh being good at what he does should make Michigan fans ignore his actions.  Because those actions are not those of a Michigan Man.



January 23rd, 2013 at 9:48 PM ^

Well, that settles it, then! We accept him! One of us!

Though, on second thought, perhaps it is best to ask Jim what he thinks before we declare him our own. Shall he accept the invitation into our exclusive club? Or are we merely freaks begging to be rejected by Cleopatra?

Specifically, does he still hold MIchigan dear, as he did in the days of yore? Was his relationship more with Bo and less with the entity "Michigan"? Does he even hold the University --or its athletics-- in high esteem any longer?

Were secretive overtures made between Brandon and Harbaugh, with Harbaugh politely declining behind the scenes to save the University face? Or was he (or we) snubbed altogether? If so, why?

All the fixins for a good soap opera, I vouch. While I do agree with the points of the OP, overall, they are not sufficient to arrive at the stated conclusion.

matty blue

January 23rd, 2013 at 9:48 PM ^

harbaugh was my favorite player at michigan...i loved his swagger, his approach, his toughness.  our undergrad years overlapped, and some of my favorite times as a fan are the result of jim harbaugh.

that said, i would respectfully submit that his distancing from the michigan fanbase has absolutely nothing in common with the herbstreit thing.  herbstreit did not actively and directly cut down his alma mater for personal gain.  jim harbaugh did.  i guess i'm a small person, but i can't forgive him that.

it's certainly true that bo would be proud of harbaugh's accomplishments, proud of the way his teams play, proud of him 20 different ways.  but he also would have shredded his ass for saying the things he did about michigan.  

i suspect that he would have said those things whether or not bo had been alive at the time; i also suspect that, had bo been alive, he would have walked them back at least a little.  i'm very disappointed that he hasn't done that.


January 23rd, 2013 at 10:22 PM ^

...while your comment seems lucid and well-founded, please don't refer to Bo as "bo" in future posts.

Bo is fine.

BO is better.

BO MF Schembechler is better yet. 




January 23rd, 2013 at 9:53 PM ^

As I've said in earlier posts, I went to UM with and had several interactions with JH. I've also said that the NFL BLR video may be eerily accurate. I remember one conversation at Rick's that epitomized Jim and the "I Want Cake Now"  meme. That philosophy was foreign to the Bo "Team" meme and it was no secret that JH drove Bo bat shit crazy. The juxtaposition of the two philosophies may be what causes angst among alumni and MGoBloggers. To me, the bottom line is: JH was a great UM QB, somewhat successul NFL QB (I think the closest to a SB was the AFC Championship w/i Indy), and has been a successful college and NFL coach. That success, IMO, is in no small part due to Bo, his time at UM and his father Jack, a great coach also. As far as the education comments, I seem to recall JH encounters in social settings more than the classroom. He is still one of ours: "The Team." I believe Bo would agree, but then kick JH's ass back in line. JMHO.