A triumphant entrance set the tone. After that, Jim Harbaugh took it from there–well, picked and up ran with it better describes the situation, actually.
Seven months ago, Harbaugh promised to make an immediate impact at his alma mater as the football program’s head coach. He didn’t say he’d conquer the world, nor did he beat his chest while proclaiming the Michigan Wolverines as 2016 national champions; but the coach did say–in not so many words–that people would notice his footsteps and that he’d waste no time rebuilding the program.
He was right. They have noticed, and they’ve been steadily tracking his movement ever since. And he was right about the rebuilding process–it’s right on schedule, if not a bit ahead. His boots are tightly laced and his shovel is in the ground.
From his successful string of satellite camps throughout SEC country, to his even bigger hit at the “A4 Aerial Assault” camp at Michigan Stadium, all the way to this past weekend’s recruit barbecue in Ann Arbor, Harbaugh continues to deliver on his word while connecting with the youth.
In turn, 20-plus players have delivered theirs, just like Sir Patrick Scott–the newest 2016 commit–did this past Sunday at the barbecue. The 3-star cornerback is member No. 22 of Harbaugh’s No. 8-ranked (No. 3 B1G) recruiting class, per 247Sports.
Player No. 22 and a No. 8-ranked recruiting class? All of that after that whole Brady Hoke/Dave Brandon thing?! Commits dropped like flies this past season as the Wolverines tumbled to 5-7. They couldn’t jump ship any faster. Hoke was then axed, and Brandon was unceremoniously ousted–via resignation–from his post as athletic director.
Yet, for some reason (Harbaugh), recruits are once again drawn to Michigan, analysts are forecasting a turnaround and fans see the light at the tunnel.
Harbaugh, Harbaugh, Harbaugh. That’s why.
This past week, all eyes were fixated on Harbaugh at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer got his fair share of attention; likewise for Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio. They were each on-point while addressing serious issues during their time on the podium; both very eloquent and confident.
But Harbuagh’s lighthearted, anecdotal and genuine personality stole the show.
Question from reporter (first question to Harbaugh): “I think it’s always interesting how Ohio State and Michigan refer to one another. Brady used to call Ohio State “Ohio” and Urban calls them “the team up north” or “the rival.” Do you have a special adjective for your opponent, your rival?
“No. Ohio State in particular? Just ‘Ohio State.’ But great to see everybody this morning. Glad everybody could be here. Wonderful turnout,” said Harbaugh, who was also asked about his summer trip to France–which he gladly outlined–what he learned about being a man through coaching and through his father, the most important game of the year (season-opener Sept. 3 at Utah) and attendance at Wolverines games.
On top of displaying a Mike Ditka Chicago Bears jersey on stage, he also told an entertaining and impromptu story about sandwiches served to writers during the Big Ten preseason caravan… events that happened roughly 30 to 35 years ago.
Since assuming command of Michigan, Harbaugh has played hands as they’ve been dealt. And he’s handled those super quote-worthy inquiries like a true trained professional. He’s won everything up until this point; however, the Wolverines’ performance on the field will be the tell-all. It’s about that time, anyway. By week’s end, the team will be in camp.
One reporter asked: “Your return to Michigan has really re-energized people at Michigan, but it also created a buzz throughout the Big Ten. Did you expect that? And what do you think that means for the league overall and for Michigan.”
Before getting to Harbaugh’s response, the following must be taken into consideration: Despite being a 100-1 long-shot to win the national championship, Michigan is ranked No. 5 among the most bet-on teams in Westgate Las Vegas’ Superbook, according to ESPN staff writer David Purdum.
And that’s because of Harbaugh Mania.
“Well, I don’t know. I don’t know,” Harbaugh said in response to the reporter’s question. “Not striving to be creating any buzz. Just striving to coach the football team. Not trying to be popular or anything. Anyone who is popular is bound to be disliked. So just coaching football.”
It’s funny he said that, though. He’s been the most popular guy in college football for the past seven months, yet he’s never really cared what people thought of him.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes and references were obtained firsthand by the writer via press conference, press/transcript release or other media availability.