University of Michigan
News for Faculty and Staff

August 19, 2018

Jim Harbaugh named 20th head football coach at U-M

December 30, 2014

Jim Harbaugh named 20th head football coach at U-M

Topic: Athletics

Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett announced Tuesday that former Wolverine quarterback and San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has been hired as the 20th coach in U-M football history.

Harbaugh becomes the sixth former Michigan player to be named the leader of college football's winningest program.

Jim Harbaugh

"Throughout my life I have dreamed of coaching at the University of Michigan," said Harbaugh, the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach. "Now I have the honor to live it.

"Across every discipline on campus, the University of Michigan stands for excellence," added Harbaugh. "I feel privileged to take a leadership position at one of the finest universities in the world. I truly believe it is time to ask what we can do for our great university, and how I can be a great teammate. I commit to do my part to see to it the Michigan football program upholds its tradition of excellence."

"We are excited to have Jim come home and lead our football program into the future," said Hackett, the Interim Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics. "Since retiring from playing in the NFL, Jim has worked hard to become one of the elite coaches in the profession.

"He has been successful at every coaching stop and has done an exceptional job of molding and developing young men as football players, students and citizens. We believe that Jim is the perfect individual to balance the academic and athletic expectations that come with representing this football program and university."

Harbaugh's contract at U-M is for seven years. He will receive $5 million annually with 10 percent increases after years three and five. The contract also includes incentive payments based on performance related to Big Ten championships, bowl appearances, coaching awards and team academic performance.

At his introductory press conference, Harbaugh pledged to "carry forward the tradition of excellence" of U-M football.

"I’m standing on a foundation that has been built for over 100 years by some great men. I feel like I'm standing on their shoulders," he said. "I want to win. … I want to win on the practice field, we want to win in the classroom, we want to win in the community, we want to win on fall Saturday afternoons, and we’ll have great expectations for that."

Harbaugh comes to Ann Arbor after an impressive four-year run in the National Football League. He led the storied San Francisco 49ers franchise to the NFC Championship Game in each of his first three seasons, winning the George Halas Trophy as NFC Champions in 2012. Harbaugh tallied a 49-22-1 overall record that included a 5-3 mark in the postseason as 49ers head coach.

Jim Harbaugh answers a question during the press conference at which he was introduced as U-M's 20th head football coach. (Photo by Roger Hart, Michigan Photography)

Harbaugh led the Niners to a 13-3 regular season record and to the NFC Championship Game during his first season in 2011, earning the AP NFL Coach of the Year award. He followed up with an 11-4-1 regular season mark in 2012, culminating with an appearance in Super Bowl XLVII. Harbaugh helped guide San Francisco back to the NFC title game after a 12-4 regular season record in 2013 and posted an 8-8 mark during the 2014 season.

Prior to making the jump to the 49ers, Harbaugh rebuilt the Stanford University program. The Cardinal improved each of his four seasons, capped with a 12-1 campaign and FedEx Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech in 2010. Harbaugh finished his tenure at Stanford with a 29-21 overall record and 21-15 mark in Pac-10 Conference play.

In his first head coaching experience, Harbaugh led the University of San Diego to a 29-6 record during his three seasons directing the program, from 2004-06. In his first year, the Toreros posted a 7-4 record after winning their final five games of the season. The team proceeded to post 11-1 marks during the 2005 and 2006 seasons, claiming the Pioneer Football League Championship each season.

Harbaugh spent the 2002 and 2003 NFL seasons as the quarterbacks coach with the Oakland Raiders. He worked with the quarterbacks, helping quarterback Rich Gannon lead the organization to Super Bowl XXXVII after posting an 11-5 regular season record and the AFC Western Division title. Gannon won the 2002 AP NFL MVP award and was selected to the 2003 Pro Bowl.

Harbaugh began preparing for a career as a coach during his professional playing days. He spent eight years as an NCAA-certified unpaid assistant coach for his father, Jack, at Western Kentucky, from 1994-2001. He worked as an offensive consultant and recruited for the Hilltoppers during that time. Harbaugh's effort helped his father's team capture the 2002 Division I-AA National Championship.

Harbaugh played for five organizations during his 15-year NFL career, from1987-2001. He completed 2,305-of-3,918 passes for 26,288 yards and 129 touchdowns in 177 games, and made 140 career starts.

He was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Year, the NFL Comeback Player of the Year and a Pro Bowl selection after leading the Indianapolis Colts to the AFC Championship Game in 1995. He was inducted into the Colts Ring of Honor in 2005.

As a collegiate player, Harbaugh was one of the most efficient passers in NCAA history. In 1985, he led the nation in pass efficiency and finished as the runner-up in 1986. His career pass-efficiency rating was the NCAA's top mark for over 12 years. Harbaugh won the Chicago Tribune Big Ten Most Valuable Player award, earned first-team All-America honors and finished third in the balloting for the Heisman Trophy following the 1986 season.

He completed 387-of-620 passes for 5,449 yards and 31 touchdowns during his career, with all four statistical categories still listing among the top-12 in school history. He also added 12 rushing touchdowns during his career, including eight scores as a senior.

Harbaugh became the first Michigan quarterback to throw for more than 300 yards in a single game — 310 yards against Wisconsin — and eclipsed the 200-yard passing mark 12 times. He led the Wolverines to a 21-3-1 record as a full-time starter during his final two seasons, including a pair of victories against rivals Michigan State and Ohio State.

Harbaugh and his wife, Sarah, have two daughters, Addison and Katherine, and a son, Jack. He also has three children, Jay, James Jr., and Grace.

He is the son of Jack and Jackie Harbaugh. Jack was an assistant coach at Michigan from 1973-79. Harbaugh's brother, John, is head coach of the Baltimore Ravens and his sister, Joanie, is married to Indiana University men's basketball coach Tom Crean.