On December 30, 2014, Jim Harbaugh stood in center court at Crisler Center to introduce himself to Michigan fans. He thanked them for their support and vowed “that we will do everything in our power to carry on the great tradition of Michigan excellence in all areas.” Expectations were high at the arena, named after legendary Michigan coach Fritz Crisler. Now, 8 years later, Harbaugh has passed Crisler into the Wolverines Celebrity List.
No college football program has won more games than the Michigan Wolverines. With the victory over Illinois, Jim Harbaugh earned his 72nd career win as Michigan head coach, passing Fritz Crisler for fourth all-time. Harbaugh has a way to go climbing the list again with Lloyd Carr (122), Fielding Yost (165) and Bo Schembechler (194) just up front.
Crisler coached the Wolverines from 1938 to 1947 and continued for 27 years as athletic director. Chrysler’s markings on this program still exist today, most notably with the iconic winged helmet. For football, Crisler devised the “platoon” system, having separate groups for offense and defense. On the field, Crisler ran the program at his lowest point. After 4 years in which the Wolverines went 10-22, Michigan under Crisler has lost more than just 2 games twice in 10 years. Michigan has won the Western Conference twice, including in Michigan’s 1947 National Championship season.
Jim Harbaugh is now 11-0 in his eighth season as head coach of Michigan. Last season, Harbaugh checked the accomplishments on a list that influenced the perception of his time at Michigan. He won as an underdog, and on the road for the first time. He defeated Ohio State and won the Big Ten Championship for the first time as a coach, earning AP Coach of the Year honors. The Wolverines went undefeated heading into Columbus for the first time in his tenure. If the Wolverines win, it will be the first time in Ohio Stadium since 2000. The first time Michigan has defeated rivals, Ohio State and Michigan State in the same season since 2003. Michigan will be far from its first back-to-back Big Ten championships since 2004.
So while Harbaugh is deep in his time at Ann Arbor, he has the show he loves in the best setting it’s been in decades. It’s not hard to imagine Harbaugh continuing to rewrite records and change narratives as long as he’s the head coach at Michigan. He can start again next Saturday with a win at Ohio State.
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