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When Jim Harbaugh was in seventh grade, Michigan football was rebuilding



Reina Sabine

| Detroit Free Press

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When Jim Harbaugh returned to Ann Arbor to revive his traditional alma mater, the Michigan football coach was revered as a skilled architect.

Even Harbaugh likes this comparison.

He said at an introductory press conference in December 2014: “I think I am more like a construction worker. You built a house, and hope this is a great cathedral. Then they tell you to build another.”

But with the passage of time, this huge structure was never realized, and Wolverine left some ordinary McMansion suitable for suburban subdivision. It’s good, but it’s far from spectacular and below the best standards out there. Then it began to collapse, as the accumulated wear and tear exposed more serious problems, which can be traced back to the weak foundation.

More information from Sabine: Joe Milton’s withdrawal may force Harbaugh to do things he hasn’t done yet

Now, as the 7th grade of the Harbaugh era starts from Monday’s spring practice, it has been dismantled and the painstaking reshaping will begin. This process will begin in the shadow of the extension of the contract that Harbaugh signed last month. Harbaugh’s contract has almost halved his salary and reduced the university’s buyout obligations. At the same time, it is proposed that if the coach does not complete the project quickly in the long-term future Questioned.

For Harbaugh, this is a daunting task.

His son, Jay, is the only remaining member of the original staff and once helped Michigan become a contender for the conference again. He is now part of a reorganized organization that has five new assistants, and he will soon have another after guard coach Brian Jean-Mary travels to Tennessee late last week. An assistant. The new additions include Mike Macdonald, the 33-year-old first defensive coordinator who has never played a game.

The turmoil in the leadership of the plan has taken root on the roster, and this is also in the pain of transition.

[ Ben VanSumeren transfers from Michigan to Michigan State ]

Since September, 10 scholarship recipients have entered the transfer portal, which reduces the impact of Wolverine’s achievements on recruitment. In the past 35 days, Michigan bid farewell to promising sophomores Zach Charbonnet and Joe Milton, who was the starting quarterback last season.

Milton’s decision to leave Ann Arbor only reinforces the general idea that Harbaugh started anew with the untested people around him at this advanced stage of his tenure .

[ Why Joe Milton’s transfer stings worse than others under Harbaugh ]

He has a new inexperienced coordinator to direct his defense. Whether it’s Cade McNamara, JJ McCarthy, or Dan Villari, he will rely on one who spends very little (if any) at the college level The player who steals the attack.

But it doesn’t stop there. Harbaugh has an assistant, Ron Bellamy, who has never taught at this level. He has another Sherrone Moore, who has never led the team he was appointed to lead this year.

It’s difficult to determine when the crash will begin. However, it is indeed undisputed that they did this, and eventually left a lot of rubble in the 2-4 seasons of 2020.

As early as the dawn of Harbaugh’s tenure in Michigan, no one could have expected this to happen. He has just restored the identity of the San Francisco 49ers, turned the losing team into a perennial Super Bowl contender, and defeated the team with relentless efficiency. Prior to this, he rescued Stanford University from the wreckage of Walt Harris (Walt Harris) era and transformed the Cardinals from a single win to a BCS Bowl champion capable of defeating USC’s Pete Carroll ( Pete Carroll).

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In Michigan, the depression has never been as protracted or painful as in San Francisco or Stanford, it seems that Hubble will have a chance to achieve greater success. That’s why he was so greetedly welcomed when he returned to Ann Arbor, and Wolverine’s most enthusiastic supporters celebrated him with the savior in a khaki-covered cloth.

At the time, Harbaugh was uncomfortable with this view, because he dismissed the idea of ​​having to renovate the old house.

He said: “I don’t agree that this is a turning point.” “This is Michigan, and there is no turning point in Michigan.”

But this is exactly what happened along State Street in Ann Arbor these days. Harbaugh was once again equipped with a helmet and a set of blueprints, dreaming of another way to build this great cathedral, and wondering how much this period of time would take.

Contact Rainer Sabin at rsabin@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @RainerSabin. Read more on the Michigan Wolverines in Sparta, Michigan, and subscribe to our top ten newsletter.




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