Jim Harbaugh formally introduced as Michigan's football coach
ANN ARBOR -- Jim Harbaugh had no voice, and he nearly tripped on the gaggle of photographers as he entered his first official news conference at Michigan.
"Anybody see that?" Harbaugh laughed. "A lesser athlete would've gone down."
He drew a good laugh from the crowd, and no one cared about the near mishap or the raspy voice. Michigan has its man, and it's now official.
"There are very special words in the English language we all embrace, there's family, friends, teammates, victory," Harbaugh said Tuesday afternoon, moments after interim athletic director Jim Hackett introduced him as the program's head coach. "I was reminded of another very special word when I was driving into Ann Arbor this morning.
"And that word is homecoming."
Michigan has formally signed Harbaugh to a 7-year contract that will pay him $5 million per season.
Hackett announced that, in one year's time, he will re-evaluate the program's progress and put together a deferred compensation package for Harbaugh that is based on market value.
Asked immediately if he views Michigan as a destination job, Harbaugh discussed all the places he's been -- the University of San Diego, Stanford University and with the San Francisco 49ers. He explained how thrilling it was to build each program.
But at the end of the day, the former Michigan quarterback says he wants to eventually find a permanent place.
"I've dreamed about this since I was a young lad," said Harbaugh, who claimed the hire wasn't official until Monday. "I'd really like to live in one (of these jobs) permanently. That's what I'm hoping for here."
Tuesday's news conference featured a standing-room only crowd inside Michigan's Junge Center. Harbaugh's family -- including parents Jack and Jackie, his wife, Sarah, and the couple's children -- were seated in the front row. A number of former Michigan players were also in attendance, along with a handful of current players -- including junior center Jack Miller and junior quarterback Shane Morris.
Most of Michigan's roster is currently on holiday break, but Harbaugh spoke with a number of the players via a conference call earlier in the day.
Former Michigan coaches Lloyd Carr and Gary Moeller were also in attendance for the announcement. Cathy Schembechler, the wife of the late Bo Schembechler, was also in attendance -- as were a number of Michigan regents.
Harbaugh, who mutually parted ways with the 49ers on Sunday, went 49-21-1 over his four-year run as an NFL coach. He earned three trips to the NFC title game and one trip to the Super Bowl.
Prior to that, Harbaugh went a combined 58-27 during his seven years as a college coach at San Diego and Stanford.
"One particularly famous pro coach who had done broadcasting for many years, told me this," Hackett said. "Jim Hackett, you didn't just get a great coach, you got the best coach in football today.
"College or pro. ... Our guy came home."
Harbaugh spoke about the foundation that's been built at Michigan, starting with Bo Schembechler and moving into Moeller and Carr. He thanked former coach Brady Hoke, and his wife Laura -- calling them his "very good friends" -- for their service at the university.
He said he won't make any promises or guarantees, and says he isn't comfortable with being called the "savior" of Michigan football.
At this point, all he wants to do is win.
"I feel like I'm standing on this foundation that is so rock solid," Harbaugh said. "I feel like I'm standing on the shoulders of tall, tall men. I can't thank you enough."
"Top to bottom, Michigan is about excellence and greatness. You have my pledge, and I will carry forward the tradition of excellence of the University of Michigan football program."