Michigan's Jim Harbaugh Wins 2021 AP College Football Coach of the Year Award

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVDecember 10, 2021

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh celebrates with his team after the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game against Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Indianapolis. Michigan won 42-3. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
AP Photo/AJ Mast

Michigan's Jim Harbaugh was named the 2021 Associated Press College Football Coach of the Year on Friday.

Harbaugh beat out second-place finisher Luke Fickell of Cincinnati. Baylor's Dave Aranda was third and Michigan State's Mel Tucker was fourth.

Under Harbaugh, the Wolverines are the No. 2 team in the nation. They won the Big Ten championship game for the first time last week, beating Iowa 42-3 and clinching a spot in the College Football Playoff for the first time as well.

The 57-year-old Harbaugh is the first Michigan head coach to win the AP award and the first Big Ten coach to win it since Penn State's Joe Paterno in 2005.

Harbaugh also made history by becoming the first coach ever to win the AP College Football Head Coach of the Year and NFL Coach of the Year awards. Harbaugh achieved the NFL honor with the San Francisco 49ers in 2011.

While Michigan has achieved some success under Harbaugh since his arrival in 2015, he was under the gun entering the 2021 season.

The Wolverines went just 2-4 in the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, had never won more than 10 games in a season, had never reached the Big Ten championship game and had never beaten rival Ohio State under Harbaugh.

All of those droughts were erased in 2021, as the Wolverines are 12-1 including a 42-27 win over Ohio State to clinch a spot in the Big Ten title game.

Harbaugh had stiff competition for the AP Coach of the Year award in the form of Fickell, Aranda and Tucker, who all helped their teams exceed expectations.

With Fickell leading the way, Cincy is a perfect 13-0 and the No. 4 team in the nation, making it the first Group of Five team to reach the College Football Playoff.

Aranda has Baylor ranked seventh with an 11-2 record. The Bears upset then-No. 5 Oklahoma State 21-16 last weekend to win the Big 12 championship game.

Tucker, who was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in his second season at Michigan State, led the Spartans to a 10-2 mark. MSU notably handed Michigan its only loss of the season.

As for Harbaugh and the Wolverines, they are preparing to face No. 3 Georgia in the CFP semifinal Orange Bowl on Dec. 31.