Beilein Calls Harbaugh ‘Great Hire,’ Excited

Michigan’s 73-65 overtime win over Illinois wasn’t close to being the biggest story around Ann Arbor Tuesday. Introducing Jim Harbaugh at halftime, John Beilein reflected on the first time he met Harbaugh, hopes to get to know him better now.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Of those in attendance as part of a sold out Crisler Center crowd Tuesday night, the members of the Michigan basketball staff and players might’ve been the only ones 100-percent focused on the game itself.

The Wolverines came up with a huge win, in come from behind form as well, erasing a 13-point second half deficit to beat Illinois 73-65 in overtime, the Big Ten regular season opener for both teams.

But for once at home, that story was secondary.

Just three hours prior to tip, the Michigan football program officially introduced Jim Harbaugh as the next head coach, setting off celebrations and excitement that hasn’t been prevalent in Ann Arbor in quite some time.

John Beilein had a job to do though and never actually had a chance to chat with Harbaugh leading up to the game and the brief halftime speech delivered by Harbaugh while the Wolverines trailed 32-26.

“No I did not (meet him),” Beilein said. “I think if it had been timed up. Obviously it was a priority, our pregame was a priority over that but our team was probably the only one that had that priority. We went through our pregame walk through etcetera.”

Believe it or not, and Beilein to this day still finds it funny, the two have actually crossed paths once before.

“I met him in California two summers ago and we’re sitting there talking,” Beilein said. “What I do remember, it occurred to me, both of us, he had just been to the Super Bowl and lost a tough game, we had just been to the national championship and lost a tough game.

“How many times would you ever think either of us get there or stand there talking? I think we have a relationship that will grow. I really pride myself on really trying to get to know all the coaches here.”

Although Beilein indicated interim athletic director Jim Hackett did keep him in the loop throughout the search process, the coaching veteran -- for the most part -- wasn’t exactly paying close attention to it all.

For a story that brought about so much publicity and interest nationally, it was however hard to ignore for Beilein.

“His name was certainly bantered around a little bit,” Beilein said with a smile. “And it’s just good and I trust everybody that’s been in this search that they know what they’re doing and they know what’s best for Michigan football and from what I understand this is a great hire.

“I hate to see Brady leave but at the same time that’s the tough part of this business. Jim is now ready to go and I really look forward to getting to know him and his family even more going forward.”

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