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Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh is voted AP Coach of the Year

 Jim Harbaugh holds a trophy surrounded by smiling players.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh celebrates with players after winning the Big Ten championship game against Iowa on Dec. 4.
(AJ Mast / Associated Press)

Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh is the Associated Press college football coach of the year after leading the Wolverines to their first Big Ten title in 17 years and a berth in the College Football Playoff.

Harbaugh is the first Michigan coach to win the AP Coach of the Year Award, and the first from the Big Ten since Penn State’s Joe Paterno in 2005.

“It’s a tremendous reflection on the entire staff, players,” Harbaugh said. “Everybody shares in it. A rising tide lifts all ships.”

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He received 22 of 53 first-place votes and 103 points from a panel of AP Top 25 voters to finish ahead of Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell, who had 16 first-place votes and 88 points.

Alabama quarterback Bryce Young is the Associated Press college football player of the year after receiving 42 of 53 first-place votes.

Baylor’s Dave Aranda was third and Michigan State’s Mel Tucker was fourth.

Harbaugh came into his seventh season as coach of his alma mater on a hot seat after going 2-4 in the Big Ten’s abbreviated schedule in 2020. After his first losing season with Michigan, Harbaugh took a pay cut and had his buyout reduced, putting the school in better position to make a coaching change if this season didn’t go well.

Harbaugh also made staff changes on the defensive side of the ball in the offseason.

Everything came together for the Wolverines this season as they beat Ohio State to snap an eight-game losing streak in the rivalry and reached the Big Ten title game of the first time, where they routed Iowa.

No. 2 Michigan (12-1) faces No. 3 Georgia (12-1) in its first College Football Playoff appearance on Dec. 31 at the Orange Bowl.

“I love this team. I love this ’21 team,” Harbaugh said. “They’ve got a bounce in their step every day. They’ve got a smile on their face. They’ve worked incredibly hard.”

Lincoln Riley and USC have no connection to the 2021 Heisman Trophy finalists. That should strengthen their resolve to keep the best quarterbacks in L.A.


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