Ahead of the Michigan Wolverines’ season opener Thursday night against the Utah Utes, a look at Jim Harbaugh’s coaching record finds
Michigan finished 5–7 last season, including a 3–5 mark in Big Ten play. Seeking a new direction after parting ways with Brady Hoke, the Wolverines turned to Harbaugh, who played quarterback at Michigan from 1983–1986 and left the San Francisco 49ers after the 2014 NFL season.
Interestingly enough, although Harbaugh enters the 2015 season with a 58–27 coaching record (including his tenure at FCS San Diego), he has won only one of his three debuts at each coaching stop. Here's a quick look back at how the coach has done in his first game on the sidelines for new teams.
San Diego (2004–2006)
His first stint as a head coach came at San Diego in 2004, and the Toreros lost Harbaugh’s debut 24–17 to Azusa Pacific. San Diego finished that year 7–4, its worst of Harbaugh’s three campaigns; 2005 and 2006 each ended with 11–1 records and Pioneer League championships.
Harbaugh jumped to Stanford for the 2007 season, joining the program his father, Jack, was the defensive coordinator from 1980–1981 (interestingly enough, after coaching Michigan’s defensive backs from 1973–1979). Stanford went 4–8 in 2007, losing Harbaugh’s opener to No. 14 UCLA 45–17. The Cardinal endured another losing season in 2008 before finishing 8–5 in 2009 and 12–1 in 2010, Harbaugh’s last season at Stanford.
San Francisco 49ers (2011–2014)
In 2011, Harbaugh jumped to the NFL and picked up his only debut win, a 33–17 49ers victory of the Seattle Seahawks. San Francisco went 13-3 that year, its best regular-season finish under Harbaugh, and reached the NFC Championship Game.