FOXBORO -- When the University of Michigan was hoping that Jim Harbaugh would return to his alma mater to serve as the new head coach of its football program, Tom Brady apparently made a pitch that helped the school's cause.
According to an excerpt from John Bacon's book "Endzone: The Rise, Fall and Return of Michigan Football," the Patriots quarterback was one of many who coaxed Harbaugh to eventually take the job with the Wolverines.
Jay Flannelly, the former team manager turned dishwasher at Pizza House, known as "The Beav" by the former players, knew he could ask Tom Brady for almost anything-except after a loss. The Sunday after the Michigan-Ohio State game, November 30, the Patriots suffered only their third defeat of the season at Green Bay. Flannelly wasn't going to bother asking a favor after that one.
But on December 7, the Patriots got back to their winning ways in San Diego, beating the Chargers, 23-14, to go 10-3 on the season.
The Beav sprang into action.
"The Pats won, and Tom played great," Flannelly told me. "So after the game's over, I'm e-mailing Tom. I congratulate him on the win. He replies, 'Hey, we won, we played great.' Then I ask him to call Harbaugh, and give Tom his number. Tom says, 'Coach Harbaugh is the kind of guy we need.'
"Next day, Ghindy tells me Tom called Jim and talked for two hours. Okay, that's really cool."
"Tom Brady," Ghindia says, "has as much to do with Harbaugh coming back as any player on our list. It showed Jimmy just how deep it went."
Brady played at Michigan from 1996-99 and served as the team's starting quarterback for each of his final two seasons. In 1998, he set the school record for completions in a season, and as a senior he was named a captain. With Brady behind center, the team won the Citrus Bowl and the Orange Bowl in consecutive seasons.
Harbaugh played at Michigan from 1983-86 and went on to a 14-year career in the NFL. He has served as the head coach for the University of San Diego (2004-06), Stanford University (2007-10) and the San Francisco 49ers (2011-14). Michigan introduced Harbaugh as its head coach in December of last year.