Jim Harbaugh Introduced as New Michigan Coach

Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Jim Harbaugh was officially introduced as the new coach at Michigan, calling the return to his alma mater a “homecoming” and vowing “excellence” for a football program seeking its first national title since 1997.

The school announced Tuesday it had hired the former Wolverines star quarterback, just two days after he left his job as coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

“Throughout my life, I have dreamed of coaching at the University of Michigan,” a husky-voiced and raspy Harbaugh, reading from a statement, said at a packed news conference. “Now I have the honor to live it.”

Michigan interim athletic director Jim Hackett confirmed that Harbaugh signed a seven-year deal worth $5 million per year — the same salary he received with the Niners. Harbaugh also received a $2 million signing bonus, according to Hackett.

“Our guy came home,” Hackett said.

Harbaugh, 51, coached the 49ers to three straight NFC Championship Games. San Francisco lost the 2013 Super Bowl to a Baltimore Ravens team coached by his brother, John. After the 49ers slipped to 8-8 this season and missed the playoffs, he parted ways with the team Sunday in what both sides called a mutual decision.

Now his name is the buzz of the Big Ten.

“Top to bottom, Michigan is about excellence, is about greatness, and you have my pledge that I will carry forward the tradition of excellence of the University of Michigan football program,” Harbaugh said.

As a starting quarterback for three seasons under Bo Schembechler, Harbaugh is well remembered for delivering a victory he guaranteed over Ohio State in 1986, the same season he was Big Ten player of the year and finished third in Heisman Trophy voting.

But Michigan has fallen to almost unthinkable depths in recent years. This past season was the third time in seven years Michigan finished with a losing record and the Wolverines failed to reach a bowl. The program has not won the Big Ten since 2004, and its most recent sub-.500 season before this dismal stretch came in 1967, two years before Schembechler began his run as coach.

The famously confident Harbaugh declared, however, that Michigan does not need a turnaround.

“There are no turnarounds at Michigan,” he said. “This is greatness.”

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