ESPN and other sources are reporting that Jim Harbaugh, most recently coach of the San Francisco 49ers, is returning to his alma mater to coach the Michigan Wolverines. The apparent hire is supposed to be formally announced tomorrow.
I welcome Coach Harbaugh back to the Big Ten. I’m not sure that I can speak for the rest of Buckeye Nation, but I am glad that Michigan has hired someone who has been successful virtually everywhere he has coached. The hiring of Coach Harbaugh may make it more difficult for Ohio State to prevail in The Game — Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer and the players on the OSU roster obviously will have something to say about that — but I think it is good for the Big Ten if in fact Michigan has lured a fine coach back to the college ranks.
There seems to be a divide among college football fans. Some people root only for their team, don’t really care about the other teams in the conference, and want their archrivals to lose every game in humiliating fashion; others root hard for their team, but want their conference to perform well and therefore pull for the conference foes — including the archrival — when bowl season rolls around. I’m in the latter camp. I hope that Ohio State pulverizes Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, and every other Big Ten team every time they play, but when Big Ten teams play in bowls, I hope they win every game. I want the Big Ten conference as a whole to be respected — which would be a change from the recent prevailing perception of the Old Conference.
I think Michigan’s apparent hire of Jim Harbaugh is another step in attempting to regain the respect that the Big Ten has lost. So I say: Coach Harbaugh, welcome back! And next year, I hope we kick your keisters in The Game with That Team Up North.