ANN ARBOR (CBS Detroit) — “He chose to come home.”
With those words, University of Michigan interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett made it official: Jim Harbaugh is the head football coach of the University of Michigan football team.
The news came after months of speculation and courtship.
“I have thought about that, dreamed about that since I was a young lad, dreamed about coaching at Michigan and now it’s time to live that,” Harbaugh said when he took the podium in Ann Arbor.
With a cracking voice brought on, he said, by getting doused with Gatorade outdoors, Harbaugh praised former coaches and players, told anecdotes, and seemed relaxed.
“I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders of tall, tall men, and I can’t thank you enough,” Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh spent four seasons coaching the San Francisco 49ers — ending with a 44-19-1 record, winning two NFC West Division titles, with three trips to the playoffs, three NFC Championship appearances and one Super Bowl appearance.
Harbaugh had success in the College Football ranks, leading two unsuccessful programs — the University of San Diego and Stanford University — back to respectability. San Diego went 29-6 in three years under Harbaugh, with two Div. I FCS Pioneer Football League titles.
Harbaugh rose to prominence with Stanford, where he took over a 1-11 team and finished with a 29-21 record over four seasons. The Cardinal gradually improved in the Pac-10 Conference, culminating in a 12-1 season and Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech in 2011.
Harbaugh played quarterback for the Wolverines from 1983 to 1986 under legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler. The Wolverines went 10-1-1 and won the Fiesta Bowl in 1985, Harbaugh’s junior season. Michigan finished with a No. 2 ranking that year. The following year, the Wolverines posted an 11-2 record and lost in the Rose Bowl to Arizona State during Harbaugh’s senior season.
Harbaugh ranks sixth in Wolverines history in career passing yardage (5449 yards), fifth in single-season yardage (1986, 2729 yards) and 11th in career passing touchdowns (31).