When Jim Harbaugh took the podium during his introductory press conference as Michigan’s newest head football coach, he made clear that the expectation would - and should - remain high for the Michigan Football program.
“This is Michigan,” Harbaugh said forcefully. “There are no turnarounds at Michigan. This is greatness...a long tradition of it.”
It was clear before Harbaugh had even coached his first game at Michigan that most were already penciling in the Wolverines as Big Ten champions - it was only a matter of time. Nobody could have anticipated the harsh reality that would be facing Harbaugh as he enters his seventh year in Ann Arbor, still searching for his first win against Ohio State and his first shot at a Big Ten championship.
Coming off of a brutal 2-4 season in 2020, Harbaugh spent a significant portion of the off-season negotiating a contract extension that would ultimately cut his salary in half and drastically lowered his buyout, giving Michigan an easy out if Harbaugh continued to come up short. In order to change course in 2021, Harbaugh began the necessary work of completely overhauling his coaching staff. In addition to parting ways with longtime defensive coordinator Don Brown, offensive line coach Ed Warinner and quarterbacks coach Ben McDaniels, Harbaugh brought in six new assistant coaches - all under the age of 40.
Harbuahg's new assistant coaches might be new to Ann Arbor, but they’re certainly not new to the game of football. Michigan’s new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald spent seven years as an assistant coach with the Baltimore Ravens. New cornerbacks coach Maurice Linguist spent the 2020 season as part of the Dallas Cowboys coaching staff, along with several years of coaching college football in various roles. Running backs coach Mike Hart arrives back home after serving as associate head coach with Indiana. Harbaugh also brought in Ron Bellamy from West Bloomfield High School (wide receivers coach) and another Baltimore Ravens assistant, Matt Weiss.
Though most faces are new, there are three key holdovers from Harbaugh’s previous coaching staff. Sherrone Moore, one of the top recruiters in the nation, will now serve as co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Josh Gattis will remain in his previous role as Michigan’s offensive coordinator, while Jay Harbaugh will transition from running backs coach to special teams coach.
Given the drastic changes that have occurred to his contract and his coaching staff during the off-season, it’s clear that Jim Harbaugh is painfully aware of the situation and that there’s a newfound sense of urgency in Ann Arbor. Put simply, the clock is ticking.
This is not a rebuild year, this is year seven.
This is a "prove it" year.