Michigan Wolverines: Is Jim Harbaugh the Future in Ann Arbor?


Was Fridays resignation by Michigan Wolverines Athletic Director Dave Brandon the first domino to fall in bringing Jim Harbaugh to Ann Arbor?

Michigan fans sure seem to hope so.

When Brandon stepped down on Friday, it was the first acknowledgment from the university that something indeed needed to change. Tumultuous times have surrounded the Michigan Wolverines for the past few years, starting with Brandon. The two latest controversies in Ann Arbor include the Shane Morris injury escapade as well as the recent revelation of condescending emails allegedly sent by Brandon to fans and alumni.

“I agree with this decision.” – U-M President, Mark Schlissel

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel said Brandon decided it was in the best interest of student athletes and the university community that he move on. Schlissel said Brandon is going to “move on to other challenges” and leave U-M athletics without “daily distractions.”

With Brandon’s resignation also comes the inevitable fate that now awaits current Wolverines head coach, Brady Hoke. The fan base has also been calling for Hoke to lose his job and they will get their wish soon enough.

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  • After going 11-2 in his first season at Michigan, Hoke has gone 18-16 since, including just 3-5 this year. He will likely finish the current season, possibly enabling him to save a sliver of respectability before he is eventually relieved of his duties. Once Hoke is terminated, the future AD in Ann Arbor will have a clean slate to start his tenure.

    That’s where Jim Harbaugh comes in.

    It’s no secret that U-M fans want the current San Francisco 49ers head coach to return to his alma mater, but can they lure their former quarterback away from the NFL?

    Jim Harbaugh joined the 49ers just over three years ago, after he helped build the program at Stanford University into national title contenders. In his three years as the HC in San Francisco, he has led the team to a 41-14-1 record, reaching the NFC Championship game each year.

    Despite being one of the most successful coaches at the highest level of football, Harbaugh and the 49ers tabled contract extension talks before the start of the current season. NFL insider Jay Glazer reported earlier this month that he sees no way Harbaugh remains with the 49ers after this season, even if San Francisco wins the Super Bowl.

    Promising news, if you’re a Michigan fan. However, it’s currently unknown what the level of interest in on Harbaugh’s end of returning to U-M. He did give these rather unflattering comments about the university during his time at Stanford.

    "“Michigan is a good school and I got a good education there,” he said, “but the athletic department has ways to get borderline guys in and, when they’re in, they steer them to courses in sports communications. They’re adulated when they’re playing, but when they get out, the people who adulated them won’t hire them.”"

    If and when Jim Harbaugh becomes a free-agent HC, he will be highly sought from both NFL teams and colleges looking to bolster their programs. Basically, Harbuagh will have the pick of the litter. That means that if the Wolverines are serious about acquiring coach Harbaugh, they’d better have their check books ready.

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    Harbaugh’s current base salary in San Francisco is $5 million.

    Some believe though, that money should not be a problem for the university. Michigan lured defensive coordinator Greg Mattison from the NFL in 2011 and made him the fourth-highest paid assistant coach in college football. He makes $851,400 this season, according to USA Today.

    Furthermore, if the Wolverines are indeed able to land Harbaugh, it wont be anytime soon. The NFL season extends beyond the college season, so although Michigan only has a month of football remaining, the 49ers could have significantly more.

    For now though, the removal of Dave Brandon is at least the first step in the righting of the ship in Ann Arbor. Hoke will be next, and the university will get its new beginning.

    Now we play the waiting game, because whether  Jim Harbaugh wants to come back to coach his alma mater, whether Michigan’s president can stomach paying Harbaugh the large sum he might command, and whether Harbaugh would be able to win enough to satisfy fans all remain to be seen.

    Next: Michigan Football: An open letter to Jim Harbaugh (from Bo)