A hoarse, charismatic and a re-energized Jim Harbaugh was officially introduced as the University of Michigan's new head coach at a press conference Tuesday, two days after coaching his final game with the San Francisco 49ers.
Harbaugh made his grandstanding debut at his alma mater without his vocal chords at full strength, symbolizing his tenuous 2014 season with San Francisco that ended his four-year tenure. The organization and Harbaugh "mutually" parted ways despite being the second-most winning team in football since he took over in 2011.
"To come back as football coach at the University of Michigan, I have to tell you, I have thought about that, dreamed about that since I was young lad. Nine and 10-years-old," Harbaugh said. "Throughout my adult life, I’ve dreamed about coaching at Michigan. Now it’s time to live that."
Harbaugh told stories of when he was a child sitting at legendary coach Bo Schembechler's desk, putting his feet up - to later Schembechler telling him as a player he would never play a down after showing up late to his first team meeting.
Harbaugh termed his return to Michigan as a homecoming, reliving moments of his childhood through his own children when they were given Michigan gear to wear after touching down in Ann Arbor Monday night.
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He looked relieved and re-booted, knowing he can get back to his roots after a wildly uncomfortable season with the 49ers.
Contrary to previous reports, Harbaugh's salary will not increase dramatically at Michigan. He signed a seven-year deal, announced by athletic director Jim Hackett, that will pay him $5 million per year, the same salary he earned with the 49ers. There are 10-percent escalators after years three and five, on top of various incentives and a $2 million signing bonus.
"I made a decision from the heart, which I thought was best for myself and my family. Very excited by it. Very challenged by it," Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh returns to a Michigan program that hasn't been ranked in the top-10 by the Associated Press since 2007. He replaces Brady Hoke, who finished his four seasons with a disappointing 31-20 record over his four years. Hoke took over for Rich Rodriguez, who went 15-22 with the Wolverines in his three seasons, trying to replace the highly-regarded Lloyd Carr, who won five Big Ten titles and a National Championship in his 12 seasons.
But it doesn't sound like Harbaugh is comfortable being the program's prodigal son, returning home to elevate it back to greatness.
"I’m not comfortable with that at all," he said. "I’m standing on a foundation that’s been built for over 100 years by some great men. I feel like I’m standing on their shoulders. I want to do a good job. I want to be good. I want to win. I want to win at practice. We 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. We’ll have great expectations for that. We’ll have great expectations for the first team meeting, and the first week of winter conditioning. Can’t wait."
San Francisco is left to pick up the pieces after CEO Jed York and general manager Trent Baalke have taken heat from the fan base for parting with one of the most successful head coaches in franchise history.
Monday Baalke said the will begin the interview process quickly and hopes to have a new coach in the coming weeks. Numerous reports have already linked San Francisco to candidates like Arizona defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase.
“I want a teacher," York said Monday. "I think what made Bill Walsh so successful was that he was a great teacher, whether that was players or whether that was other coaches. And you look at his successful coaching tree. I think if you look in the 49ers Hall of Fame down the road, I want to say as of 2012 or 2013, 29 of the 32 coaches in the NFL had either a direct or indirect relationship with Bill. That’s what made this organization so successful."