When Jim Harbaugh returned to Ann Arbor in December 2014 to restore his university’s decaying soccer program, many believed it embodied the lyrics of the famous college fighting song.
He was a victor, an overpowering champion, a leader and definitely among the best in his profession.
At his opening press conference, a Harbou reporter revealed that others called him the Savior, and yes, even Christ.
But more than six years later, he has appeared Michigan Football Association Coach is seen as something else entirely.
He is a disappointment, a fallen star, a flawed manager and a man who is no longer among the vanguard in his field.
Harbaugh’s downfall has been long and bizarre — much like a complex decade that is finally over after months and months of speculation. When he signed a new five-year deal Friday That’s nearly half of his base compensation and cut acquisition costs in Michigan.
With one stroke of the pen, Harbo conceded defeat once more. An 11-10-year-old man in his last 21 matches agreed to the terms of preference for a school that appears to have lost a measure of confidence in him.
Michigan would never publicly admit it, even Athletic Director Ward Manuel opposed the idea in a statement.
Manuel said, «I still think Jim is the right man to lead our program in pursuit of the Big Ten and CFP tournaments.»
But the reality is that Harbaugh hasn’t led the Wolverines to any titles in the past six years and the program has gradually deteriorated after peaking under his watch near the end of 2016. During the downturn that has unfolded since then, Michigan has survived. Huge turnover and torrent of defections That destabilized the basis of what Harbo was building.
At the same time, A disorganized approach to recruitment Wolverines’ efforts to reshape a depleted list were hampered by early transfers and departures to NFL. The cumulative effect of these problems was achieved last season, when Wolverines appeared to either lack people or outweigh them in losses to Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Before this season, when Harbaugh was walking the streets of Ann Arbor and campaigning to play games, he was exuding the same vanity that had characterized his character long ago. He did not pay attention to critics, believing that he had put Michigan on the right track. But at that time his main detractors were abroad, raising him from afar. These days, resentment loudly at those close to the program has grown and the Wolverines message boards are satiated as fans roam about the status of their beloved squad.
«There is work to be done and challenges to be faced,» Harbou admitted in a statement released on Friday. «These challenges are being addressed as we continue to strive for excellence in the classroom and tournaments on the field, a message that I hope will be codified in the language of the agreed contract.»
The details of the incentive-rich deal are already being revealed, Tells a story with numbers that subtly reveal Harbaugh’s shortcomings — the 0-5 record against his archenemy Ohio who prevented him from winning the Big Ten East, the 1-4 Posteason mark of still a albatross and the inability to distinguish himself among peers who don’t They can be ignored.
If Harbaugh somehow wins Buckeyes, wins the convention, qualifies for the College Football Playoff, claims a national championship and takes the Coach of the Year title, he will once again become one of the highest-paid men in college football.
What’s more, it will turn into the Harbaugh version that Michigan believers thought they would have when he returned to Ann Arbor over six years ago.
Once again, he will be seen as the victor, conqueror, loyal, and Christ.
But at UM, Harbaugh hasn’t shown himself to be that guy.
Instead, he’s just another decent coach trying to win some matches and give his platform a fighting chance.
The contract he signed on Friday reflects Harbaugh as it is now: just a human trying to recover from the disappointments of the past six years against all odds.