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University of Michigan hires Jim Harbaugh to coach football


Jim Harbaugh will be the next coach of the University of Michigan football team.

UM Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett made the announcement at a packed press conference in Ann Arbor.

Harbaugh will be paid roughly $5 million a year, plus incentives, over an eight-year contract.

Harbaugh's name had risen swiftly to the top of a speculative list of replacements for Brady Hoke, whose contract as the Wolverines' coach was terminated on December 2nd, after a losing season and no bowl game.

Even though Hackett said he wanted to retire the phrase "a Michigan man,"  Harbaugh is what most people mean when they use that term.

Harbaugh moved to Ann Arbor when Bo Schembechler hired his father, Jack, as defensive backs coach for the Wolverines.  

He was a quarterback for the Pioneer High School football team, and was the U of M's quarterback under Schembechler from 1983 to 1986. 

He told the Associated Press in 2013 "Bo Schembechler is about as next to the word of God as you can get in my mind. It's not the word of God, but it's close."

After college, Harbaugh  played professional football for the Chicago Bears, then the Indianapolis Colts, from 1987 to 2001.

Harbaugh applied for the position of quarterback coach at UM during the Lloyd Carr era, but he didn't get the job.  Instead, he went to the Oakland Raiders.

In May, 2007, Harbaugh told the San Francisco Examiner, "Michigan is a good school and I got a good education there, but the athletic department has ways to get borderline guys in and, when they're in, they steer them to courses in sports communications."

U-M coach Lloyd Carr took offense, calling Harbaugh's comments "self-serving," "arrogant" and "elitist."

Tailback Mike Hart went so far as to claim Harbaugh was no longer a "Michigan Man" for the comments. 

Apparently, all is now forgiven.

Harbaugh later became head coach for the University of San Diego, Stanford, and the San Francisco 49ers.

The pressure on Harbaugh is already on. 

Bank of Ann Arbor put up blazing yellow billboards around the city to welcome him, including one that states, "Those who return will be champions" and another claiming his arrival is "A win win win win win win win win win win win win win win win situation."

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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