On Tuesday’s episode of “Real Sports with Bryant Gumble,” reporter Andrea Kremer interviews University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh about his demanding personality and how it makes it hard for people to work with him. It’s the same personality which may have ultimately cost him his job with the San Francisco 49ers, but will it fit at Michigan?
Win at all cost mentality
Ever since Harbaugh was young he was competitive and determined to win at everything he did, even when it came to growing. He explained to Kremer in the interview the extent in which he went to reach the desired 6-foot-2 height he thought was needed to play quarterback in college.
“I heard that if you drink milk that builds strong bones, and convinced myself that I’ll drink as much milk as I possibly can drink,” him Harbaugh said.
So when he was in third grade Harbaugh managed to get the job as milk distributer in his school. The pay for doing the job was one free milk per day along with any milk the other kids did not take.
“I drank a lot of milk, Andrea,” he says. “A lot of milk. Whole milk, though. Not the candy ass two-percent or skim milk.”
His strong personality helped and then hurt
Harbaugh’s intense personality may get him what he wants, but eventually it can take it’s toll on the people he works with.
While coaching with the 49ers Harbaugh managed to bring a team expected to be in a rebuilding phase to a 13-3 regular season record, and ultimately to the NFC Championship game. He demanded greatness out of his players while with the 49ers and though it worked great for a while, eventually it got old.
49ers offensive lineman Alex Boone told Kremer it was Harbaugh’s personality and drive which got the team to where they wanted to be, but it was also what may have got him fired in the end.
“He does a great job of giving you that spark, that initial boom,” Boone said. “But after a while, you just want to kick his ass. . . . He just keeps pushing you, and you’re like, ‘Dude, we got over the mountain. Stop. Let go.’ He kind of wore out his welcome.”
Boone thinks that Harbaugh was just too demanding and eventually it took it’s toll.
“I think he just pushed guys too far. He wanted too much, demanded too much, expected too much. You know, ‘We gotta go out and do this. We gotta go out and do this. We gotta go out and do this.’ And you’d be like, ‘This guy might be clinically insane. He’s crazy.’ . . . I think that if you’re stuck in your ways enough, eventually people are just going to say, ‘Listen, we just can’t work with this.’”
Keep in mind, Boone did play for Ohio State so he may be a bitter towards Harbaugh.
Why Harbaugh is perfect for Michigan
When dealing with multi-millionaire athletes the head coach is almost always at a disadvantage, especially when the coach has a personality like Harbaugh.
On the college level things are much different. The players are not making any money and they have little or no say about what goes on with the team. College coaches can be much more firm with their players and the players can’t do anything about it unless they want to get kicked off the team.
Coaches with strong and demanding personalities like Nick Saban, Bobby Knight, Tom Izzo, and Mike Krzyzewski would not be able to coach the same way at the professional level as they do in college because the players would eventually stop listening.
Jim Harbaugh is now in the perfect place for his coaching style. He has a history with the University of Michigan and he will demand respect out of his players. If they choose to challenge him they will be gone and Harbaugh will remain.
Harbaugh will demand greatness out of his players and there is no doubt in my mind he will be very successful, and that means winning championships.
Luckily for Harbaugh’s players, if they do get sick of his personality they will only have to deal with him for four years at the most.
What do you think Nation, will Harbaugh’s demanding personality work well at the University of Michigan or will he eventually wear out his welcome? Let us know your thoughts.
Tuesday’s episode of “Real Sports with Bryant Gumble,” can be seen at 10:oo p.m. on HBO.