Harbaugh’s Return Bigger than Wins & Losses

Jon Falk was Michigan’s equipment manager for over 40 years. He knew Jim Harbaugh long before he wore the winged helmet, so he was there to witness the former Wolverines’ growth into an outstanding player, and an even better coach. So when Harbaugh’s return to Michigan was made official today the sense of pride and excitement flowed out in some of the most emotional commentary he has ever offered.

How momentous is Jim Harbaugh’s return to Michigan?

Talking heads like those of us here on GoBlueWolverine have tried to analyze it by comparing it to other coaching moves… by analyzing Harbaugh’s past successes and using them to project how he’ll fare in this, his latest stop.

Maybe we’re talking too much. Maybe the magnitude of Harbaugh’s return isn’t about analysis and projections. Maybe it’s about a feeling.  A feeling comprised of joy excitement, relief, and expectation all rolled into one.  That’s the type of visceral response Jon Falk gave this morning when he tried to describe just how big Harbaugh’s return is.

“Say thanks today to the president of this university, say thanks today to the board regents, and thanks to Jimmy Hackett for what they’ve done,” Falk said as he fought back tears. “They’ve brought Jimmy Harbaugh back to Michigan.  Think about that.”

“What they’re saying is Michigan football is important. They want Michigan football to win. And that’s what we came here for.”

The man that equipped young men with armor for today’s version of the arena was so emotional that he could hardly speak. 

That is how big return Harbaugh is.

That is what Harbaugh means to so many.

Why, you ask? Because when one of the greatest players to ever to wear the uniform spurns pastures that most believe are greener (literally and figuratively) so he can restore his alma mater to its former glory it says Michigan really is a special place.  Most fans and alums that forward that message are written off as arrogant, delusional, or both.  But those that say that aren’t so easily dismissed now.

Harbaugh didn’t return to Michigan because he had to. He returned because he wanted to. That such a move hasn’t happened anywhere else is kind of the point.

Falk, and so many others, are saying it happened here because it’s Michigan. It’s not just a place people go, or a team people root for, it’s part of who they are.

“What we’ve done today is we’ve brought a man back to bring Michigan back,” he said.

“It’s so exciting it’s unbelievable.”

“When we took the field (when Harbaugh played) we knew we were going to beat that team,” Falk later added.  “And what’s going to happen here now at Michigan… when those teams roll into town now, not only are they going to have to beat the Michigan football team, they’re going to have to beat the University of Michigan because everybody is going to be in that stadium and they’re all going to be rooting for Michigan. And that’s what we want! That’s what we want.

“We want everybody rooting for Michigan!”

And now everyone will.

To hear Falk’s emotional commentary, listen to the podcast below.

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