Although Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh has done some weird things away from the football field, he is known for having a serious and businesslike demeanor on the sidelines and toward his players.
However, something has changed recently in Harbaugh.
According to Michigan running back Karan Higdon and defensive end Chase Winovich, Harbaugh has a new warm personality that even involves giving his players hugs.
“He’s just more personable. He wants a hug sometimes,” Higdon said of Harbaugh. “Sometimes you’ve got to give him a hug. The guy wants a hug.”
When asked if Harbaugh really wants his players to hug him, Higdon replied: “Yeah. Coach wants a hug. Got to give coach a hug.”
“I have [given him a hug],” Higdon added. “Walked in this morning, ‘Hey, coach, how you doing?’ and gave him a hug.”
Higdon said that Harbaugh’s new personality started after Michigan’s 26-19 loss to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl last season.
“After the bowl game we had a sour taste in our mouth; I did, he did, everybody in this facility did,” Higdon said. “He was open. ‘What do we need to do? What can I do?’ How often do you see that from a coach, asking of his players? That’s stronger than anything.
“He addressed the whole team. When you’re expecting all from your players, you’ve got to give your all, too. He’s been doing that, but he’s doing it a step further, which I’m glad to see.”
Winovich also commented on Harbaugh’s new attitude, saying that Harbaugh has made his personal change for the betterment of the team.
“This is Coach Harbaugh’s way of trying to combat that he’s the boss,” Winovich said. “He’s trying to paint this picture, I’m not saying it’s not true, because I think it is true, that he’s with us. He wants us to win, just like we do. He wants us to succeed, just like we do. He’s not just the pointer-outer, like, go here or go there. He’s in there with us. He takes criticism, just like we do, if not more, and he’s just trying to add more. It’s like, ‘If you see me out there, give me a hug.’ Not out on the field, but in the hallway.”
Higdon said that he is happy that Harbaugh has made the adjustment, noting that it is helping his relationships with his players.
“That’s one thing I’ve been proud of coach for doing; he’s been more personal with the guys and approachable,” Higdon said. “That’s definitely going to help him. Coach is a football guru and he’s been so focused on the game, and taking a step back from that and continuing to build a strong relationship with the players changed our culture, changed our atmosphere around this facility. It’s been great.”
The Wolverines will open their season on Sept. 1 against Notre Dame at Notre Dame Stadium.