When Jim Harbaugh returned to Ann Arbor to revive his tradition-rich alma mater, the Michigan football coach was revered as a skilled architect.
Even Harbaugh liked the comparison.
“I think of myself as more of a construction guy,” he said at his introductory news conference in December 2014. “You build a home, and hopefully it’s a great cathedral. Then afterwards, they tell you to build another one.”
But as time passed, that tremendous structure never materialized and the Wolverines were left instead with some ordinary McMansion fit for a suburban subdivision. It was decent but far from spectacular and fell below the standard of the best out there. Then it began to fall apart, as the cumulative wear and tear exposed more serious problems that traced back to a weak foundation.
Now, as Year 7 of the Harbaugh era starts with spring practice Monday, it’s been torn down and a painstaking remodel is set to begin. This process will unfold in the shadow of the contract extension Harbaugh signed last month that nearly halved his salary and slashed the university’s buyout obligation while raising questions about the coach’s long-term future if he doesn’t complete this project quickly.