Jim Harbaugh is a workaholic. The outspoken, charismatic, relentless Michigan football coach made that clear in 2010, when while coaching at Stanford, he said, “I don’t take vacations. I don’t get sick. I don’t observe major holidays. I’m a jackhammer.”
The jackhammer was in Norfolk on Saturday night on the 12th stop of a grueling schedule of 38 football camps in 28 days. Granted, Michigan has split its staff in two, and Harbaugh won’t be in all 38 places.
But he worked eight satellite camps in four states in four days, including one Saturday morning in Tampa, before flying into Norfolk to hold a clinic with area high school coaches on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) at the Sheraton Norfolk Waterside.
This morning, he and about half of his staff will take part in a satellite camp for high school players at Old Dominion along with coaches from Alabama, Wake Forest and half a dozen other schools. From here, he will head across the country, from Waco, Texas, to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Honolulu and American Samoa.
He said he has no intention of slowing down.
“It’s life-giving energy to be able to work and I feel very blessed and privileged to be able to do that,” he said. “I don’t want to miss a day.”
He said New York Yankees first baseman Wally Pipp took a day off on June 1, 1925, reportedly because of a headache, and Lou Gehrig played in his place.
“And 2,130 games later, Lou Gehrig came out of the lineup,” Harbaugh said. “My dad always told me the Wally Pipp story. You don’t want to give up your spot, he said. Somebody else might take it.”
”I don’t want to take a day off. I don’t want to take a knee.
Harbaugh is from one of football’s most famous families. His father, Jack, was a longtime college coach who groomed sons Jim and John to follow in his footsteps.
Jim was a star quarterback at Michigan and in the NFL who in 14 professional seasons threw for 26,288 yards and 129 touchdowns. While playing in the NFL, he was an unpaid assistant coach at Western Kentucky, where his father coached and ODU athletic director Wood Selig was the AD.
He’s won everywhere he’s been, from the University of San Diego and Stanford, the San Francisco 49ers and now Michigan. He was 44-19-1 in the NFL and is 68-30 in college , including a 10-3 record last season.
Following the 2012 season, his 49ers lost to the Baltimore Ravens and head coach John Harbaugh in the only Super Bowl in which brothers were the head coaches.
When he arrived at Michigan, Jim Harbaugh almost immediately became the center of controversy. He and his staff hit the road to travel to 10 satellite camps in seven states last summer. Many were in the deep South, and some coaches in the SEC and ACC were critical of him coming to their backyards.