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Jim Harbaugh has built more than a ‘football culture’ at Michigan

The Wolverines will need Harbaugh’s family-like culture to win another Big Ten title and more.

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Jim Harbaugh
© Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Throughout his eight seasons in Ann Arbor, Michigan’s head football coach has just about done it all. From winning Big Ten titles to guiding his program through massive changes in society, a pandemic, and more, Jim Harbaugh has become a local icon both on and off of the football field. Heading into year nine of his tenure, it’s clear that Harbaugh has built more than a ‘football culture’ at the University of Michigan.

Jim Harbaugh sees great success on and off of the field

Most die-hard Michigan football fans know how impactful Harbaugh has been on the Wolverines’ program. Throughout the seven seasons that preceded Harbaugh’s time as head coach, the Michigan Wolverines were an embarrassing 46-42 overall with three losing seasons, one 10-win season, one bowl win, one win over Ohio State, and no conference titles.

Since arriving in Ann Arbor to take over the program, Jim Harbaugh has a 72-21 overall record, six ranked finishes, two Big Ten titles, two playoff appearances, two wins over Ohio State, and five 10-win seasons in seven full seasons at the helm. Even more impressive, he has done so while building one of the best cultures in the sport of college football.

What did Harbaugh have to say about it?

Here is what Jim Harbaugh had to say about his program’s culture (Per The Wolverine):

“The story is that people want to come be here at Michigan. There’s really no other layer to that,” he said. “There are just a lot of really good players that by word of mouth or whatever it is … I think the guys talk amongst themselves. I think you see that here. We’ve got a lot of guys … more that want to come in than want to leave.”

“Like I’ve always said, anything goes well around here, that’s everybody … everybody doing a tremendous job,” Harbaugh said. “When it goes bad, then I’m a bad manager. That’s my role, and that’s a role I think you always have a job at, because nobody is waiting in line to do that job.”

“But I couldn’t be more blessed. People talk about culture on a football team — they throw that out there. To me, culture is doing the right things, being on time, being where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there. Giving it a really good effort. But this program is beyond that.”

“Everybody bleeds blue, goes in the same direction,” Harbaugh continued. “You can trust your name in somebody else’s mouth. We enjoy it. We enjoy each other’s company. It’s father and son relationships; it’s brother to family relationships in this program. I just feel really blessed to be part of it.”

“Like I’ve said, [success] not only seems possible; it seems inevitable. Being around a great team and a great bunch of guys that are on our team and role models, that affects generations, to me.”

Michigan’s championship culture is evident

After finishing 13-1 with a CFP appearance and a Big Ten title in 2022, you’d think that most of Michigan’s stars — such as running back Blake Corum — would be heading to the draft. Despite putting more players in the NFL Combine than any Big Ten program, the Michigan Wolverines did not see any of their stars leave early — every returning player cited Harbaugh’s culture and unfinished business as a reason they wanted to return.

Heading into the 2023 season, Michigan football will be pursuing a third-straight Big Ten title and more — if the Wolverines want to meet their massive expectations, Harbaugh’s championship culture will need to be a cornerstone of the program.



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