So now that the 2014-2015 college football season has concluded, we can officially full-tilt obsess over what schools will have to offer come next September. And while there are players a-plenty that we have our eye on in the Big 10, there is arguably no more polarizing storyline than that of Jim Harbaugh’s return to college football.
Harbaugh himself is one of this country’s most intriguing sports figures, from his quirky press conferences to his on-field meltdowns to his unparalleled love for khakis. Now, after four years at the pro level he makes his return to his alma mater to coach the Maize & Blue, and his magnetic pull on his new spot in the Big Ten began even before his first tweet announcing that his office doors were open. There is no doubt that he will have an impact on the college football scene.
The former Michigan quarterback already has an expansive collegiate resume, including an Orange Bowl victory with Stanford before leaving for San Francisco to whip the 49ers into shape. Now he’s returning to the NCAA with NFL experience under his belt. Think about what he can do working with defensive coordinator Greg Mattison on the Wolverine’s 27th-ranked defense. Think about how he can improve the pass game. (And, not that this would have any affect now, but just imagine what Harbaugh would have done with quarterback-wide receiver hybrid Devin Gardner.)
Not to mention that he’s bringing a slice of his NFL coaching experience to Ann Arbor with him, as Kevin Tolbert will return to UM to coach under Harbaugh as he did before with both the Niners and Stanford. Add that to the fact that Mattison chose to stay on UM’s staff after Harbaugh was hired, showing the dedication to the Wolverines’ program. There are sure to be headlines to take us through the months.
In addition to what Harbaugh will bring to the team itself, his personality changes the canvas of our college football viewing. A couple years removed from the NCAA won’t keep the talking heads from mentioning Harbaugh in the same breath as Nick Saban and Urban Meyer. Harbaugh’s football prowess makes him a talking point whether his first season at Michigan is an absolute success or a colossal flop.
Not to mention the hopes that Harbaugh’s presence at Michigan will re-up the rivalry between the Wolverines and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Admit it. You’re already fantasizing about that split screen shot of Harbaugh and Meyer on the sidelines Saturday morning. It’s going to be a thing of beauty.
*Section Photo credit to Wesley Hitt, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Carlos Osorio, Associated Press.