Harbaugh 'honoured' to return home to Michigan
Jim Harbaugh speaks to the media as he is introduced as the new head coach of the Michigan Wolverines at Jonge Center. (Rick Osentoski/USA TODAY Sports)
Jim Harbaugh was Michigan's man all along.
"Our guy came home," interim athletic director Jim Hackett said Tuesday.
Harbaugh, 51, spoke in gravelly tones and poked fun at himself for tripping on the way to the dais. He won 49 games in four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.
"There are very special words in the English language that we all embrace," Harbaugh said. "There's family, friends ... victory. I was reminded of another word driving in today. Homecoming."
Harbaugh was recruited to play quarterback in 1982. He was 10 minutes late for his first team meeting. Bo Schembechler told him "I'd never play a single down in my entire career." Alas, Harbaugh did play for the Wolverines from 1983-86 and in the NFL with several teams, including the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts.
Harbaugh said he has thought and dreamed about coaching Michigan since he was 9 or 10 years old.
"It's time to live that," Harbaugh said. "I'm very excited for the challenge."
Harbaugh was reportedly offered more money to coach the Oakland Raiders and told Michigan officials he did not want to be the highest-paid coach in the Big Ten. He will replace Brady Hoke, who was fired last month after going 5-7 in his fourth season since replacing Rich Rodriguez as head coach. Harbaugh thanked Hoke -- and called him a great friend -- for laying the "rock solid" foundation for the program.
"On Dec. 3, I asked you to be patient with me," Hackett said. "I talked to our current team twice about this decision. Today, I'm very pleased to announce the 20th head football coach at our institution, Jim Harbaugh."
Harbaugh will have "complete control" of the football program, Hackett said.
"I'm at that point where, even though you've done well and built some pretty nice homes, you have to prove it again," Harbaugh said.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, preparing for the College Football Playoff semifinal in New Orleans, does not allow his players to say the word "Michigan" without repercussions. But on Tuesday at CFP Media Day in the Superdome, Meyer said Harbaugh's addition to the Big Ten was "good for the league. Good for college football."
Harbaugh's deal is for seven years at $5 million per year, plus incentives, far less than the six-year, $48 million deal reported earlier in the week.
"He will make the same salary he made with the Niners," Hackett said, adding that the university will review a deferred compensation program after Harbaugh's first season.
A recruiting push will be a priority for Harbaugh's staff. With multiple de-commitments, the Wolverines have only six players fully committed for the 2015 signing class.
"I'm honoured," Harbaugh said. "I'm very happy. I want my family to be very happy, too."
Former Michigan coaches Lloyd Carr, Gary Moeller and Jerry Hanlon attended the press conference, as did several former players. Carr was on late Michigan legend Bo Schembechler's coaching staff when Harbaugh played for the Wolverines. Schembechler's wife was also present. Harbaugh's father, Jack, and his wife, Jackie, were seated in the front row with their grandchildren and daughter in law, Sarah.