Crean, Harbaugh excited for Bloomington reunion this weekend #iubb

This won’t be a normal football weekend for Jim Harbaugh.

Not with family involved.

Michigan’s trip to Bloomington will allow for a slice of family time when the Wolverines arrive in town on Friday. Harbaugh, the brother-in-law of IU basketball coach Tom Crean, says he always looks to create space in his schedule for Crean, sister Joani and their children when opportunities allow.

That means possibly cheering for the Hoosiers when the team opens basketball season at Assembly Hall Friday night at 7 against Eastern Illinois.

“We talk or text sometimes daily, (or) weekly,” Harbaugh said. “I’m always following what the basketball team is doing there at Indiana. I know they play (tonight). It might be an opportunity to swing over there and catch some minutes. Hopefully that works out — shoot, I’ll make it work out. I always enjoy the opportunity to see Tom and see his team play.”

Tom and Joani Crean have been married for more than 22 years — a period of time that has allowed Crean to gain a unique window into the life and preparation of Harbaugh, college football’s most talked about head coach.

But even this year, with Harbaugh’s return to his alma mater and hometown of Ann Arbor, Mich., Crean doesn’t see a different person, or even a different coach.

Through the raised expectations and the worship that comes with his job, It’s the same old Jim.

“The thing about Jim, people forget that you couldn’t have been on a much bigger stage than being the Chicago Bears quarterback,” Crean said last month at Big Ten Media Day. “There was a point in time where there was Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Jim Harbaugh. So it’s not like he’s never dealt with that status before.”

Harbaugh came home to resurrect Michigan’s football program after four years in the NFL, where he guided the San Francisco 49ers to an appearance in Super Bowl XLVII along with two other trips to the NFC Championship.

Just as Harbaugh follows the marathon college basketball season in Bloomington, Crean said he keeps up with the job Harbaugh is doing with Michigan football. For Crean, the same goes for another Harbaugh brother, John, who’s the coach of the Baltimore Ravens.

Jim and John have always treated the IU basketball coach like he was family, Crean said Thursday, and earlier this fall Crean took time to visit with both brothers-in-law.

The IU coach took his Hoosiers to Baltimore in early October for a weekend spent visiting the Naval Academy, the Johns Hopkins lacrosse program and, of course, John’s Ravens. It was a getaway that was equal parts team-building and family-oriented.

Crean also visited Jim Harbaugh in Ann Arbor during September. Crean’s son, Riley, had a baseball event in Jackson, Mich. the weekend of the Wolverines’ Sept. 12 game against Oregon State and the family shot over to Ann Arbor afterwards to catch the game at Michigan Stadium.

“We went in the night before and stayed at his house,” Crean said. “He was obviously with the team. Then we went to the game and stood on the sideline, which was pretty cool. Then we spent time together after his recruits left, came back to his office and spent time the next morning. It’s family when we’re together like that. My kids, his kids, Joani obviously, and that’s what it is. I learn a lot from him all the time.”

Harbaugh, meanwhile, has been visible at Assembly Hall in the past. He served as an honorary team manager for a game in February 2012, handling and setting up chairs on the court during in-game timeouts.

Harbaugh said after that game he was just trying to contribute to a winning Hoosier performance against North Carolina Central.

If Harbaugh can make enough time tonight, there will be an open invitation for Harbaugh to once again join Crean on his team’s bench.

“If he wants to sit on the bench like he did before, he can do that,” Crean said. If he wants to sit behind the bench, sit at the scorers table, whatever he wants. We look forward to seeing him. We’ll have our competition, he’ll have his competition and hopefully along the way there will be some time to see each other as families. I know Joani and our kids will get a chance to see his wife and children. It’ll be nice.”

Back in town once again, Harbaugh says he’s looking forward to seeing family

“Love the Creans,” Harbaugh said. “Love ’em, love ’em.”

6 comments

  1. Hope this is the last I’ll have to hear about Crean and his family on this football thread. Beat Meatchicken!

  2. It is an unusual family as not many have three high profile coaches [4 if you go back to Harbaugh Sr] in it. Families find ways to spend time together no matter how long it has been between visits. I hope Jim goes home trying to figure out how his team lost this game against the Hoosiers. I know it would make his trip back to Michigan feel longer.

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