Could you imagine making a national title run alongside your father?
That’s a reality for Michigan TE/Special Teams coach Jay Harbaugh, the son of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.
It didn’t all start at Michigan for Jay Harbaugh, who was a grad assistant at his alma mater Oregon State from 2008-11, and then spent some time in the NFL with his uncle, Ravens coach John Harbaugh, as a quality control assistant for Baltimore.
When his father took the coaching job at Michigan, Jay joined Jim as the tight ends coach in 2015. And since the exit of former special teams coach John Baxter, Harbaugh got the role of special teams coach added to his duties.
What is it like to be the son of Jim Harbaugh? And what is it like to call him his boss?
Jay Harbaugh dished on that and more in this week’s Q&A.
LandOf10: What’s it like coaching with your dad? Was that what you dreamt of growing up?
Harbaugh: “It’s fun, I enjoy it. I enjoy learning from him, and being around him, and watching the way he does what he does. I’m enjoying it every day.”
LandOf10: While your dad is coaching, do you hear him tell the players a lot of the same things he told you growing up?
Harbaugh: “Oh yeah, certainly. His personality as a head coach is consistent with who he is as a guy, so all of the same stuff I heard growing up, I’ve heard him say over the past year and a half.”
LandOf10: Do you call him dad or coach?
Harbaugh: “Coach (laughs).”
LandOf10: Moving from the NFL to college, the biggest change is having to recruit. Based off what we see on Twitter, you seem to enjoy it. Why do you enjoy it so much?
Harbaugh: “It’s just fun. It’s fun to connect with high school coaches and connect with players. You build a visual of who they are as a player, and build a connection with their community – like the counselors, coaches, etc. It’s kind of like a detective case. You find a guy you like, and you start assembling all of the pieces. Each recruit is different, there’s a different story or clue.”
LandOf10: What is it like, as the special teams and tight ends coach, to be able to coach guys as good as Jabrill Peppers and Jake Butt?
Harbaugh: “It’s a blast. It’s certainly a blessing as a coach to have talented guys. You get to come up with ways to get guys with talent like that the ball, which is the most fun part of the job. More than anything, Jake and Jabrill for instance, are both outstanding guys. They’re both fun to be around, they really want to be great, they absorb teaching very well, and they’re always after higher level of detail. Which is fun, because they have mastered so many things, but they always want more. You can give them more, and get to the next level. It’s fun as a coach, it challenges you as a teacher, and the amount of detail you prepare with and provide the players.”
LandOf10: What’s the difference between coaching with your dad, Jim Harbaugh, and your uncle, John Harbaugh?
Harbaugh: “Whew, I don’t know. People have always asked how similar they are. They’re not that different, to be honest. It’s a good question. I think they’re both very similar to work for. They both go about a few things a little bit differently. I’d say my dad is a little more demonstrative. John is just as, or even more, hands-on – it just doesn’t appear that way. ”
Going to work every day with your father every day isn’t every kid’s dream at age 27, but when you’re both coaching the nation’s No. 4 team, and you’re three wins away from the College Football Playoff – working with the old man isn’t bad after all.