ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan is three days into its preseason practices and will have its first preseason availability Thursday, when selected assistant coaches meet with the media. Still, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh had plenty to say last week in Chicago, when he spoke at length during Big Ten Media Days.
Here are five of Harbaugh’s best talking points from the breakout session at the event.
Harbaugh spoke glowingly in regards to new passing game coordinator/assistant head coach Pep Hamilton, who spent last season with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns.
“I’d love to talk to you about the influence Pep Hamilton’s had. It’s been fantastic. He’s really been one of the best coaches out there, around. One of the best coaches in all of football, pro or college. In the country. Our players see it and are benefiting greatly. He’s a jackhammer. He has such a good ability to stay on point, stay on detail, never loses energy or focus, in a way he teaches, too. It’s not confusing, it’s not fast, it’s right. I could talk to you all day.
“I love Pep. Tremendous father, too. He should write a book. He really should write a book. Or get on YouTube and make videos of how to parent. It’s so good. He coaches the players on our team just like he talks to his own kids. Doesn’t treat them any different than his own kids. It’s high expectations. Teaches them and gives them the tools and pushes them. Pushes them along to be as good as they can be. He never cheats them. Never allows them and never does for them what they can do for themselves. He always holds them to give their best effort. I could go on and on and on, really.”
Neither Harbaugh nor Michigan has released the football program’s staff size. Harbaugh said his goal is to shrink his football staff.
“We noticed that when we first got there, there was a large staff. You don’t like … you like people. You want to see them have an opportunity and you want to not fire people. You care about them as people and their professional careers and their families, et cetera. That’s part of it. Then, you know other good people, and people want to volunteer but that’s not right either. That becomes, like, a sweatshop to me. And people will do it. People will just volunteer to be in the program.
“You want to encourage people and help them in their careers — but what it does lead to, it does lead to too many people with too much access, and that’s the direction we’re going. We’re going with consolidating positions. It’s our path.”
The NCAA eliminated two-a-day preseason practices in April, a move that Harbaugh put into perspective on a real-world level.
“It just makes all the sense in the world. There’s really nobody having three-a-days anymore or two-a-days anymore.
“Residents in hospitals don’t do sleep deprivation anymore. Pilots have to sleep 10 hours, I think, before each flight. It’s just everybody is doing it that way. Even the military doesn’t have sleep deprivation and three-a-days, et cetera. So I’m all for it.
“And they get a day a week of rest. I think everybody deserves that. Especially people that are playing a sport like football or training in high-intensity type of sport. I think the body does need a day of rest and recovery.
“So easy to adjust to it. There’s no two-a-days anymore. Two-a-days are gone. There are no more two-a-days. So schedule all one-a-days. So it’s been rather simple, even the other time-demand rules — 21 extra days off for the football players within the semesters. Already planning for them. Easily implemented.”
Harbaugh started his own YouTube channel in July. It has featured six videos so far this summer. Harbaugh discussed what motivated him to join the video platform.
“The thing that inspires me, I see other people doing it and appreciate it. Just people. Talk about things. Share things. Their likes and recommendations about different things. I appreciate that. I learn more. I seem to learn more through social media, and I know I laugh a little bit more during the day at some of the things people put on their, some of the video and the sound. There’s even more things to notice.
“Because I have one of those accounts, I say, ‘Hey, Sarah, look at this! Can you believe this?’ There are some incredible things on there. I haven’t put anything incredible yet.
“Other people [inspired me]. People in general that post the videos and the sound on there. There’s so many positive ones that are out there, that I wanted to be part of that. I wanted to be part of the positivity. A force for good.”
Furthermore, Harbaugh said he’s had positive engagement on social media — a realm where Harbaugh is very, very active.
Great to see Michigan Man Jack Kennedy Attacking rap like a true Wolverine! https://t.co/DVK4ZKwQRi
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) July 29, 2017
“Communication’s been good. I’ve had enhanced communication. I feel like I know more things that are going on. I get a lot of humor from it.”