It’s official: the University of Michigan has hired Jim Harbaugh as its new football coach. Some wonder if they didn’t do the process backwards; hiring the Football Coach before hiring the Athletic Director. Yes, in a perfect world, you hire the AD and he hires the FC. But timing is everything. Harbaugh was also being courted by NFL teams: NY Jets, Oakland Raiders, Chicago Bears. The window was open and UM didn’t hesitate. Of course, it cost them a bundle of money: $8,000,000 a year. If he goes 8-4 next fall, that will work out to $1,000,000 per victory.
As I’ve said in several articles, hiring is the toughest job there is. You can cover all the bases, talk to third parties, have more than one interview with the candidate, evaluate his body of work and all that. But, there are other factors and it often comes down to a gut feeling: “Is this guy a good fit or not?” Even more specific: “Is this a guy I can work with?” Even more up in the air: “Is this someone I like?” All of those subjective questions make up the ID of the person you hire. Sometimes you have to close up the folder and trust your basic instincts.
Me? Yes, I would have hired Harbaugh for Michigan. Forget all the talk that UM should not be ‘shackled’ by wanting to hire only a ‘Michigan man.’ Like it or not, that’s part of their pride. Yes, they have gone outside in the past. Fielding H. “Hurry Up” Yost attended West Virginia. Herbert Orrin ‘Fritz’ Crisler attended Chicago. Glenn Edward ‘Bo’ Schembechler attended Miami of Ohio. So, it can be done. But the Big Blue Alumni would prefer a UM man and they are a powerful lobby in such matters. And they fill 110,000 seats in the ‘Big House.’
Well, Jim Harbaugh had better get busy. One of the reasons he was hired so early is recruiting. With that, he needs to put his staff in place. If I were him, I’m keep the Chief Recruiter from the previous staff, so as not to have to start from scratch. I’m sure he’ll have success recruiting quarterbacks, as he was an NFL QB himself. Well, he’s now the highest-paid coach in college football. He’ll earn every dime of it. And, he’s the second super coach to come to the Big 10 in recent years, along with his main rival, Urban Meyer of Ohio State. As they say in Ann Arbor, Go Blue.