Michigan welcomes former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh

Byby Matt Keller and Elissa Harrington KGO logo
Wednesday, December 31, 2014

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- On Tuesday, former San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh held his first news conference as the new head coach at the University of Michigan.

Michigan football welcomed Harbaugh through social media on Twitter. They wrote: "It's official. #WelcomeHomeCoach."

It looked strange to see Jim Harbaugh not wearing red. He's now all about the maize and blue. And the University of Michigan feels it landed one of the best coaches in football.

Harbaugh's homecoming is official. On Tuesday, he was introduced to the University of Michigan and the football world as the 20th head coach of the winningest college program in history.

With a raspy voice he blamed on Sunday's Gatorade shower on the 49ers' sideline, he told reporters this is a dream come true.

"To come back as a football coach at the University of Michigan, I have to tell you that I thought about that, dreamed about that since the time I was a young lad, 9 or 10 years old," he said.

Harbaugh was a star quarterback in the 1980s at Michigan, coming in third in the Heisman trophy race during his senior season.

His dad Jack was an assistant coach for the Wolverines during the 1970s.

Harbaugh says he was contacted by the university in the last couple of weeks and accepted the job Monday.

"Something that I dreamed about," he said. "I felt it was time to live. The decision I ultimately made with my heart for myself and my family."

Of course, there was one last question from the crowd -- who's got it better than us?

To which he exclaimed, "Nobody!"

The interim athletic director says the seven year deal is worth more than $35 million, with a $2 million signing bonus and the possibility of several million more in incentives. The annual pay is about the same he was making with the 49ers.

A Michigan blogger said Jim Harbaugh told the university he didn't want to be the highest paid coach in college football, but was more concerned about the pay for his assistants.

Harbaugh taught college ball at Stanford, starting in 2006, and turned that team around. The Cardinal is playing Tuesday night at Levi's Stadium, the new home of the San Francisco 49ers.

It was just a couple days ago that Harbaugh was at Levi's Stadium as the head coach of the 49ers. Things changed fast. And now it seems the former coach and organization are wasting no time moving forward.

Many Niners fans knew this was coming. And some tell ABC7 News that they're thankful for the success he had with the team over the past four years, including taking the 49ers to the Super Bowl.

Some say they'll still cheer for him at Michigan. Before the Niners, Harbaugh coached at Stanford where he had a lot of success.

VIDEO: Harbaugh all smiles at University of Michigan

On Tuesday night, Stanford plays Maryland at Levi's Stadium for the Foster Farms Bowl.

ABC7 News found some Maryland fans, a school new to the Big Ten. They say Harbaugh is a good fit for Michigan.

"It will be huge," said Maryland fan Glen Berger. "I mean, Maryland even beat Michigan this year. I think Michigan was 6 and 5 or 6 and 6, a really bad season. So to have Harbaugh there, should turn the program around."

Fellow Maryland fan Russell Michaud added, "I think it's going to help the school because he is a good coach. He is actually a very good coach."

While 49ers fans adjust to this recent shakeup, Michigan has made it not secret they wanted Harbaugh for some time. Now that it's official, fans and alumni are excited.

The school's football program tweeted a picture of Harbaugh in his old jersey, when he was a quarterback there in the 1980s. Fans are also using the hashtag #HarbaughDay.

And we saw one fan who was wearing khakis, Harbaugh's signature look.

And remember that Detroit paper that printed a picture of Jim's brother by accident? On Tuesday, they got it right.

For full coverage on the Jim Harbaugh announcement, click here.