Just a short time ago, Sam Webb of The Michigan Insider was able to confirm reports that Jim Harbaugh has indeed hired former Michigan running back Mike Hart as the new running backs coach. Former Wolverine running back Jamie Morris was the first to report that the deal was done.
Hart was previously serving as Indiana’s associate head coach/running backs coach under Tom Allen. This is a big time addition to the Michigan coaching staff not just because of Hart's history with the program, but because of his proven track record of success as a coach and on the recruiting trail.
Michigan struggled to get it's running game off of the ground during the 2020 season and many fans questioned the effectiveness of a four-back rotation. Hart's arrival is likely to receive a very warm welcome from a fan base that is hopeful to see Michigan's loaded running back room realize it's full potential in 2021.
As a result of Hart's arrival, Jay Harbaugh is expected to move from running backs coach to special teams coach exclusively.
You can read the official press release below:
Mike Hart Joins Michigan Staff as Running Backs Coach
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach Jim Harbaugh announced Wednesday (Jan. 13) the hiring of former Wolverine running back Mike Hart as the program’s running back mentor. The all-time leading rusher in Michigan football history, Hart has been the running backs coach at Indiana University for the past four seasons (2017-20). He was elevated to associate head coach in 2020 after serving as the Hoosiers’ assistant coach during the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
“I am excited about the addition of Mike Hart to our offensive coaching staff,” said Harbaugh. “Mike is a great coach and Michigan Man who has shown the ability to develop and elevate the performance of the running backs that he has mentored. We look forward to welcoming Mike, Monique and their children to the Michigan Football family.”
“Michigan has always held a special place in my heart,” said Hart. “It is a place that always believed in me and a place that I have always have believed in. I am excited to join Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan staff, and can’t wait to get to work with a talented running back group.”
In his 10 seasons as a coach, Hart has tutored four 1,000-yard rushers, two Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year recipients and the 2014 MAC Offensive Player of the Year, Jarvion Franklin.
As a member of the Indiana coaching staff, Hart was a 2018 Broyles Award nominee and received recognition as a Top 25 recruiter by Rivals.com for his work on the 2019 signing class.
Hart has been instrumental in the development of Indiana’s running game, with the program gaining 1,888 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns in 2018. IU followed up by producing 1,695 yards and 24 TDs in 2019. The Hoosiers gained 869 yards and scored 12 TDs during the shortened 2020 campaign.
Hart developed Stevie Scott into an all-conference performer with the tailback earning second-team All-Big Ten accolades the past two seasons (2019-20) after collecting honorable mention honors as a freshman. Scott set Indiana’s true freshman rushing record with 1,137 yards on 228 attempts and 10 rushing touchdowns in 2018. He had six 100-yard rushing games as a freshman and became the 19th Hoosier to reach the 1,000-yard rushing mark.
In 2020, Scott gained 561 rushing yards and scored 10 touchdowns in eight contests. He became the 14th Hoosier running back to surpass 2,000 career yards (2,543 yards) and is currently fourth in IU history with 30 rushing TDs.
Hart returned to his home state as the running backs coach at Syracuse University for the 2016 season before accepting the running backs post at Indiana.
He spent two seasons in Kalamazoo (2014-15), helping Western Michigan earn consecutive bowl bids for the first time in school history in the 2015 Bahamas Bowl and 2014 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Hart coached a pair of Broncos’ running backs to MAC Freshman of the Year honors after 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Jamauri Bogan rushed for 1,051 yards and was second in the league with 16 TDs in 2015. Jarvion Franklin gained 1,551 yards, the second-highest total by a freshman, and set WMU single-season records for points (150) and rushing TDs (24) in 2014. Franklin was also named the MAC Offensive Player of the Year and earned USA Today Freshman All-American honors.
Hart began his coaching career at Eastern Michigan, serving as an offensive quality control coach during the 2011 season before being elevated to running backs coach for the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Under Hart’s tutelage, the 2013 ground game racked up 1,896 yards after gaining 1,960 yards in 2012. Bronson Hill eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in 2013 to finish 31st-nationally and earn third-team All-MAC honors.
Hart was a four-year starter at running back for the Wolverines (2004-07), and set the school record with 5,040 yards on 1,015 carries and 41 rushing touchdowns. He holds the Michigan record with 28 career 100-yard rushing games and his 117.2 rushing yards per contest is tops in school history. As a receiver, Hart added 67 receptions for 566 yards and scored two TDs.
A two-time Doak Walker Award finalist, Hart finished fifth in the 2006 Heisman Trophy balloting. He was a three-time All-Big Ten first team selection and was named the 2004 Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Hart shared the Bo Schembechler Most Valuable Player Award in 2006 and received the honor again in 2007.
After graduating from Michigan in 2009, Hart was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL Draft. He played three seasons for the Colts, primarily in a back-up role, carrying the ball 71 times for 264 yards and two TDs in 21 games. He was a member of the Colts’ Super Bowl XLIV winning team and had two carries in the victory against the Chicago Bears.
A native of Syracuse, New York, Hart attended Onondaga Central High School. He set the national high school career record with 204 rushing touchdowns and finished second with 11,045 rushing yards. Onondaga Central compiled a 46-1 record and won three state championships during Hart’s career.
Hart and his wife, Monique, have three children.