ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh nearly hired one Big Ten coach years ago at Stanford. He had to say goodbye to another just last year. Harbaugh, it ends up, will face both coaches this season.
When No. 4 Michigan (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) faces Rutgers (2-3, 0-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, N.J., Harbaugh will face first-year Rutgers coach Chris Ash — whom he interviewed in 2007 for an opening when he was a head coach at Stanford.
“He really stood out,” Harbaugh said during Tuesday’s Big Ten football coaches teleconference. “He was very, very well-prepared. He had his entire coaching philosophy laid out.”
Harbaugh said Ash brought video clips, drill clips and items that detailed his coaching philosophy when he interviewed for the opening at Stanford.
“I didn’t hire him, but he’s proved to be a phenomenal coach,” Harbaugh said. “I remember that interview being one of the finer interviews that I’ve ever been involved in or even seen. He’s doing a tremendous job.”
Ash was previously Ohio State’s co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach before becoming the head coach at Rutgers.
When he interviewed at Stanford, he was a recruiting coordinator and defensive backs coach at San Diego State.
The Harbaugh coaching tree is sprouting limbs in the Big Ten, too, particularly at Maryland, where former Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin has coached the Terps to a 4-0 start. Michigan hosts Maryland Nov. 5 at Michigan Stadium.
“It’s been fantastic. I’ve been following and I’ve caught probably three of the games,” Harbaugh said of Durkin’s start. “No surprise, doing a heck of a job.
“We’ve talked a couple times, coaching things. He’s busy doing his duties and I’m busy doing mine, but we’re watching with a lot of pride with what he’s doing, and very proud of the job he’s doing.”