At long last, Jim Harbaugh will get the chance to do the one thing he actually wants to do -- coach Michigan's football team. It has been a colorful and eventful 247 days between Harbaugh accepting the Wolverines job and his debut as his alma mater's head coach in Salt Lake City Thursday night.
Before he and the Wolverines take the field against Utah, let's take one more look at the highlights of the traveling circus that have made Harbaugh into America's most-discussed coach during the past eight months.
Day 1 (Dec. 30) -- Michigan officially announces Jim Harbaugh as its next head coach. His introduction coincides with a Wolverines home basketball game, and fans show up in full khaki regalia to welcome the former quarterback back to campus.
Jim Harbaugh once ate cereal with Gatorade because he was out of milk http://t.co/jUyaYc6Ibg— For The Win (@ForTheWin) January 20, 2015
Day 21 (Jan. 20) -- Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh, Jim's son, tells the school's website his dad poured Gatorade over his cereal when milk wasn't available. The revelation sparked a handful of copycat videos with Michigan students and football fans giving their cereal the Harbaugh treatment.
Thought of the day - What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive! - Sir Walter Scott— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) February 7, 2015
Day 39 (Feb. 7) -- Harbaugh issues the first of his not-so-subtle "Thoughts of the Day." Three days after Ohio State beat out Michigan to claim a commitment from one of the region's top running back prospects, Buckeyes running backs coach Stan Drayton left for a new job. The prospect felt betrayed, and Harbaugh's response was an indicator of things to come with the coach's social media presence.
Jim Harbaugh on spring practice: "It's like coming out of the mother's womb. ...Now you are out into the chaos."— Dan Murphy (@DanMurphyESPN) February 24, 2015
Day 56 (Feb. 24) -- Spring football practice begins early in Ann Arbor. Harbaugh was leaping out of his one-inch cleats when he met the press before the team's first session. He said the day was like Thanksgiving, New Year's Day, Christmas, a family reunion and a birthday all rolled into one. A literal birth day, apparently.
Big Congrats to Judge Judy on signing her contract extension thru 2020 from a Devout Fan!— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) March 3, 2015
Day 63 (March 3) -- Harbaugh tweets his congratulations to television's Judge Judy on a new contract and later basks in the glory of a response from her. A month later, he'll up the ante by meeting with a few Supreme Court justices on a trip to Washington, D.C.
Proud of my friend Colonel Jim Minick today! he took charge calling on combat training I was just following his instructions— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) March 4, 2015
Day 63 (March 3) -- Hours after tweeting to Judge Judy, Harbaugh is on his way to the airport when he and operations director Jim Minick witness a car crash on the interstate. The two men stop to pull an injured driver from her vehicle and stay by her side until police arrive.
Day 67 (March 7) -- Dressed in a full baseball uniform, Harbaugh spends the day at spring training as a guest manager for the Oakland Athletics. The coach's first sporting love was baseball, a factoid he repeated after throwing out the first pitch at a Detroit Tigers game in the summer. He wore cleats and warmed up in the team's dugout before taking the mound.
Day 90 (March 30) -- Harbaugh is back on Twitter wearing a hat he received as a gift from Bay Area rapper G-Eazy. Harbaugh has also documented his affinity for other rappers, including Lil Wayne and Big Sean, since returning to the world of college coaching and recruiting.
Day 115 (April 24) -- Every football coach in America is cordially invited to attend Michigan's summer camp for high school players. Harbaugh's invite is issued in the same week that several SEC and ACC coaches take umbrage with Michigan's staff visiting high school camps in their states. He signs his Internet letter: Sincerely yours in football, Jim Harbaugh.
PeruBall 2015 - Padre Joe assures proper PSI HaHa pic.twitter.com/0YYHFy70Zh— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) May 15, 2015
Day 136 (May 15) -- Harbaugh pops up in Peru on his annual mission trip to South America. He posts several photos of his travels, including one of a local priest inflating footballs (surely, not a friendly poke at former Michigan quarterback Tom Brady). He plays a game he calls "PeruBall" with several groups of children. Harbaugh broke out the passport again in the summer for a trip to Paris with his wife.
Overheard in Prattville: "Let's see Nick Saban do that." More video of Harbaugh running around without a shirt. pic.twitter.com/L7RorjW0iL— Alex Scarborough (@AlexS_ESPN) June 5, 2015
Day 157 (June 5) -- PeruBall comes to America as a drill in Michigan's circuit of satellite camps in the first week of June. Harbaugh joins the game during a camp in Prattville, Alabama, and doesn't hesitate to disrobe when he's picked for the skins team.
In my experience of participating in interviews, I've found it takes 2 to produce a clunker! I'll take 50% responsibility 4 this clunker.— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) July 1, 2015
Day 183 (July 1) -- Harbaugh's occasionally cantankerous relationship with the media takes center stage after a "clunker" of an interview on Colin Cowherd's national radio show. The awkward exchange is replayed ad nauseam during one of the slowest sports weeks of the year. Both parties took their share of the blame, and will give it another go tonight before Michigan's game.
Day 213 (July 31) -- Minutes after telling a ballroom full of reporters at Big Ten media days in Chicago he's not interested in being popular, Harbaugh pulls a Bears' Mike Ditka jersey from beneath the podium and displays it for the cameras. He goes on to reminisce about Big Ten media bus tours in the 1970s. No props were used in that response.
Day 219 (August 6) -- Michigan invites grade-school children to ask questions at Harbaugh's season-opening press conference. One youngster asks how much milk he'll need to drink to grow big enough to play quarterback, harkening back to an interview this spring when the coach explained to HBO's Andrea Kremer that he grew to 6-foot-3 by drinking as much whole milk as possible.
Later in the press conference, he informs the media that he and his team will be going into "submarine mode" as they begin training camp. The Wolverines have only briefly and recently emerged above sea level since then. After eight months of consistent attention, Harbaugh made headlines in August by not making any headlines.