In the closing moments of the first quarter of Saturday’s 14-7 over Wisconsin, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh’s offense lined up in a formation that almost nobody outside of Littleton, Colo. had ever seen.
On second-and-two from the 6-yard line, the Wolverines lined up with 10 offensive players directly behind center Mason Cole and quarterback Wilson Speights walking down the line before the group sprinted to a big-I formation and picked up the first down on a De’Veon Smith hand-off.
According to CHSSA Now, Harbaugh revealed the formation was one brought to him by his son, Jay, who is on staff as the tight ends coach. Turns out, the young Harbaugh—a strong, milk-drinking son, no doubt—saw the formation when reviewing film from Chatfield High School, a Colorado school where tight end Dalton Keene played (Keene ended up committing to Virginia Tech). Chatfield coach Brett McGatlin tweeted about the formation when he saw it in use, and another user sent out a screenshot as proof:
Jay brought the formation to Jim, who, being Jim Harbaugh, decided to use the formation for the first time all season in the red zone against a top-15 rush defense—the next play, Khalid Hill barreled into the end zone for one of the game’s three touchdowns. Jim explained the formation’s origin story on his radio show:
“I can’t take credit for that one,” Jim Harbaugh said on his radio show. “That was Jay Harbaugh. He was pouring over high school tape and saw a high school team in Colorado that used that. We can’t take credit for it. If any credit, I give it to Jay for spotting it, being diligent going through the tape. We said, ‘That looks good.’
“We had fun practicing it. We had fun putting it in and putting it in the game. It might have a future.”
God bless this family.