When Jim Harbaugh was hired to be the next head coach of the Michigan football team, not many Wolverines fans could have imagined that we would be sitting in 2021 and Harbaugh still would not have a single Big Ten Championship or a single win over Ohio State.
But, here we are and Harbaugh is not only still the head coach but he just got a contract extension.
Following the news that Harbaugh was being given a contract extension, plenty of fans and media members quickly jumped on social media to bash the Wolverines head coach and the program in general.
Though Harbaugh’s supporters are much fewer than they once were, he certainly seems to have the support of his outgoing players.
Three of those outgoing players, Carlo Kemp, Nico Collins, and Jalen Mayfield, all recently went to bat for Harbaugh.
Here is what they had to say.
“I definitely have had the privilege to be able to have NFL coaches all around me, especially with having Coach Harbaugh, who has coached in the NFL and has led his team to a Super Bowl,” Kemp said. “He obviously knows what it takes to win. He’s led very good pros. And we were all thankful here to be a part of program that was run like an NFL organization in terms of discipline, scheduling, how to be successful, what it takes to win. All those things I learned here through five years really helped me.
“When I was going into this training, which was, ‘OK – what do I gotta do to get better?’ I know how to get better, now it’s do I have the discipline, the routine and the commitment to doing so. So I was very thankful to have had a coach like him who’s been able to be very successful in the NFL as well as college. It’s really helped me prepare take this next step into this transition.”
“It’s definitely been a great relationship, being able to have a coach that you can go up to and talk ball with and just learn,” Kemp said. “Because he’s got so much knowledge about the game. Not only has he coached it, but he’s played it. And he’s played in big games before. It just adds another aspect, another layer to it that you’re privileged to have, for sure.”
“If you think he’s not the right coach, you’re wrong. He’s a great coach. He’s a coach that played in the NFL, coached in the NFL, and knows exactly how to coach his players,” Collins said. “If you want a great team to go to and a great coach to be coached by, go to the University of Michigan. It doesn’t get any better because of Coach Harbaugh. I learned a lot from him and I’m glad he was my coach for my first three years.”
“Because of what he improved, how he cares for his players on the field and off the field,” Collins said. “What people don’t see. They only see the games we probably lost. They say he’s the wrong coach, but there’s more to it. The things – he cares for the players on the field, off the field. Coach Harbaugh, man, he’s a great coach. There’s more to it than just football with him. He’s a guy that’s willing to bring the best out of everyone, that’s gonna be there for anybody. When people say he’s not the right coach, that he needs to be fired, you don’t know what y’all talking about. There’s more to it. I just feel like Harbaugh is the one. He’s a great coach for Michigan, he always will be.”
Collins also explained that he did consider returning to the Wolverines last season after originally opting out, but there were too many uncertainties.
“I did consider coming back,” Collins said Wednesday. “I [only] opted out because they said they cancelled the season. There were too many uncertainties, and nobody knew the next time we were going to have a season.
“Once I opted out, I accepted an advance from my agent. Once they said they were going to have a season again, there wasn’t a way for me to come back. The NCAA wasn’t going to allow me to because of what I accepted. I was too far down the line. I wanted to for sure because I wanted to play my senior year, so why wouldn’t I come back? I planned on coming back; there was just no way to.”
“I developed really well under Coach Harbaugh,” Mayfield said. “The coaching staff he had while I was here really helped me grow as a person, helped me mature much faster than I feel like I would’ve at any other place.
“They really make sure you’re on top of your stuff, and you gotta hold yourself more accountable. They’re going to push you, but I feel like you gotta really want it and really be dedicated if you want to make that next step to the NFL.
“Coach Harbaugh, he’s been amazing for me. He’s done a lot of things in the game of football, and coaching in the NFL, he has a lot of connections and a lot of memories about the game.
“One thing he told me is, it’s a business, so you always gotta be on top of your stuff, you always gotta hold yourself accountable. There’s not going to be somebody always on your back trying to push you, but you gotta stay motivated and stay engaged with everything, and I think that won’t be a problem for me.”
Nation, do you still have Harbaugh’s back?