Opinion: Why Jim Harbaugh matters for Michigan football


“Not making a decision is the worst thing you can do. So long as you feel you made the right decision based on the information you had at that time, there’s no need to fret about it. If it fails, you’ll know what to do next time.” 
― Bo Schembechler 

Why Jim Harbaugh matters?

As Jim Harbaugh begins his third season this week as head football coach at the University of Michigan it’s important to remember some very important things to remember. First, and foremost, is Harbaugh is OUR guy. He’s Michigan. The story of him growing up in both a small house in Ann Arbor and a Big House in Ann Arbor is well known.

He also played quarterback for the Wolverines and his fiery and competitive style was contagious. He is a winner – OUR winner.

He believes, understands and bleeds tradition. Michigan tradition. OUR tradition.

Jim Harbaugh matters because he’s OUR guy.

He also matters because he’s here to do a job. He’s here to restore the tradition. To bring back the Wolverines to their proper and longstanding spot among the elite in college football. Michigan shouldn’t be battling every year for Big Ten titles – it should be battling every year for National Championships.

Harbaugh gets this.

Understands this.

Not only because he’s lived it, but because he lives for it.

He’s also a very unique and refreshing personality. He’s not afraid to defend himself or his school if he feels either has been unfairly criticized. He still believes that facts are facts and the fact is they should be defended when attacked.

But what’s easy to forget is the job he is doing and the job he is here to do. We applaud his quick tweets responding to an ESPN reporter’s nonsense but we also need to understand that his tweet took about 60 seconds out of his day. We should focus more and applaud more for the other 23 hours, 59 minutes he’s spending rebuilding the Michigan football program.

We love to hear from Coach Harbaugh. We love to hear him speak and give his opinions on everything from pizza to politics, but we also need to appreciate what he’s doing and not just what he’s saying. What he’s doing will prove to be much bigger and more important than anything he says.

And that’s why Jim Harbaugh matters.

Only Harbaugh can turn just five returning starters into a positive. And it’s how he sells it, that makes you believe it, that makes you understand it.

He calls the lack of experience “opportunity.”

“When the starting quarterback at Michigan, Steve Smith, graduated. It was, ‘Ahh, ah-ha! This is my opportunity,” Harbaugh said during the Big Ten media day last week in Chicago. “This is a chance and I’ve got to take advantage of it.’ And I see that for a lot of our guys. Many of them have been waiting for this chance, and I’m excited about that.”

How can you not get excited and pumped up after hearing such a strong and convincing argument for something others would call a problem or challenge.

“I’m excited about coaching guys that are really hungry,” he continued. “I remember that feeling of put-up or shut-up time, and, ‘I’ve got to get it done now.’ Case in point, I got better.”

The quote above from the great Bo Schembechler is about leadership – a quality he mastered throughout not only his coaching career but his life. And one he certainly passed on to a young quarterback eager and excited to replace Steve Smith.

Which brings us back to why Harbaugh matters.

He simply says what he believes and believes what he says – “based on the information he has at the time.” How can you not like someone whose only filter is in his swimming pool if he is talking from his heart, his soul and his passion? Some people say things to make waves, stir controversy or seek the limelight. Harbaugh says things because they matter to him. He does things because he believes they are the right things to do. It’s opening a window, not window dressing.

He felt it was the right thing to do when he responded to criticism launched at Michigan football for having satellite camps all over the country, including of all places, the south. Coaches in the SEC and ACC protested Michigan taking snaps on what they see as their geographical playing field. So, what did he do? He responded both verbally (on twitter in defense of his actions) and physically (by taking the Wolverines to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., for spring break).

Spring break in Florida? What? That’s crazy!!!

What’s not crazy is why Jim Harbaugh matters.

So enjoy this time Wolverine fans. There are no guarantees how long Coach Harbaugh will be here. The NFL is only a phone call away and Harbaugh certainly enjoys a challenge and he may feel like he has more to accomplish at the professional level.

Right now his focus is on the Maize and Blue. HIS Maize and Blue. OUR Maize and Blue. And that really does matter.

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