“Hi, my name is Jim Harbaugh. Thanks, Mr. Wahl [Ed. A-Orange Bowl communications director]. Uh, sorry I wasn’t able to get on the call earlier. I was on a plane. Thanks for coming back at this time. If you have any questions, I’d be glad to answer.”
Being at the ‘86 game against FSU in Ann Arbor—I believe that was your senior year—you won by two. I just remember it being probably one of the worst officiated games I ever saw. What do you remember about that ballgame?
“What was the final score? I don’t remember the final score.”
20-18, you won.
“Oh, it was two points? Okay. I just remember how great Deion Sanders was. That was what stood out in my mind. And Coach Bowden, he was really cool. I remember running and scrambling, I scrambled left and went back to the right toward their bench and ended up having—probably ran almost eighty or ninety yards one way to the one side then all the way back to the other side, and I got thrown out of bounds. I just remember him being cool and giving me a smile, a pat on the back, and he said something. But my coach that year, Bo, and Coach Bowden were coaches in the Hula Bowl, so I got to know him a little bit better at that point, too. Those are the two things that stick out most in my mind from that game.”
You would have been in the NFL, but did you watch that ‘91 game?
“Yeah, I remember not seeing the entire game. I do remember watching it. FSU won that one. Back-and-forth, intense game.”
It was 51-31, I think.
We just talked to a few of the players and they were bringing up the Christmas Camp you guys did last year and doing that again this year. Given the fact that you guys were aiming for the playoff spot and came up a little bit short, is there any concern making sure those guys are still motivated and still willing to put in the work here for a few more weeks?
“Um…well, I know I am. I know I’m motivated and ready to put in the work, and looking forward to it.”
[After THE JUMP: Florida State, one last statement on officiating, and great memories of coconuts]
What’s your view of the last spot there before the touchdown?
“That it wasn’t a first down by that much.” [holds hands apart about eight inches]
So you agreed with the call, then?
“That it was not a first down. The officiating, I’m bitterly disappointed with the officiating today. That spot—the graphic display is the interference penalties. The one not called on us when Grant Perry clearly was being hooked before the ball got there, and the previous penalty called on Delano Hill, the ball’s uncatchable and by the receiver. So yeah, I’m bitterly disappointed in the officiating. Can’t make that any more clear.”
[Ed. A- The second Harbaugh used “bitterly” I knew that I’d heard that word spoken with the exact same inflection before. I realized about the time we were leaving the stadium that Harbaugh said it the way Bo did in the archival footage used in Tiebreaker. Watch through 33:38 if you can stomach it.]
[After THE JUMP: the most bizarre explanation for a personal foul I have ever heard]
Dymonte Thomas the last couple games has made some big plays for you. Talk about what he’s given you on the field?
“He’s always given solid play, and lately big hits, momentum-changing plays. He’s a very good player. Always has been consistently good.”
You’re going to a place where they really don’t know what to make of you down there. Some people say you’re crazy like a fox, some people say you’re just crazy, but they all say you’re progressive. Could you describe who you are to Ohioans?
“Not crazy. Wouldn’t describe myself as that.”
Anything beyond that?
“No. I mean, I don’t know that my personality really, how relevant that will be to the ballgame this week. Probably irrelevant.”
Is there anything unique about competing against Urban Meyer, whether it’s on the field or recruiting or anywhere else you come up against each other?
“Unique in that it’s at the highest level.”
“In terms of competition on the field or recruiting, everything’s at the highest level. Competition’s at the highest level.”
Can you update us on Wilton Speight’s condition, and do you expect him to play?
“No, I do not have an update today. Hasn’t been evaluated today.”
[After THE JUMP: Harbaugh waxes poetic about Peppers, lists all the cities he lived in as a kid, and explains why love for his children and football can’t be accurately expressed with a pie chart]
News bullets and other items:
Harbaugh saved timeouts because he planned to use them after second and third down and get the ball back with about 35 second to play; Iowa converted the third down.
There were 10 guys on to block the field goal because they started with 12 guys and there was a miscommunication in the huddle about who was supposed to come off the field.
Any more on Wilton Speight?
“We’re gonna know more--It’s gonna depend just on how he feels.”
And can you talk about Jeremy Clark? Has he had the surgery, and have you guys started the petition at all with him for the sixth year?
“Yeah, he’s doing good. Surgery was successful and it’s a process. Where he is in the process is gathering the information, making a case. Soon.”
With Wilton, when do you think you’ll have to know to make a decision on him and is it a game-time decision at this point?
“Could be. As I said, when we’ll know is based on what the doctors say and how Wilton’s feeling, what he’s able to do during the week in terms of practice, etc.”
And it’s his shoulder?
“As I said, we’ll make that determination with the doctors and with Wilton.”
Do you at least know if there’s anything structural or is it just a soreness thing? Have you been able to determine that yet on Wilton?
“Um…as always, per our principle we don’t like to speak specifics.”
If need be, John O’Korn, have you seen enough of him in practice to be confident in him?
“Yes, yeah. Yes. John, Shane [Morris]. I especially would anticipate today, the next couple days at least, that they’ll get the majority of the reps. It’ll be good practice for them, but they’ve both had extensive practice time through the course of the year and yes, we are confident they will do a good job.”
[After THE JUMP: running-into-the-kicker calls, the program’s momentum when Harbaugh arrived, and praise for Indiana’s defense is definitely a thing now]
There are portions of my audio where I couldn’t hear because of the reverberations of Iowa folks celebrating, so I pieced together what I could.
What was happening with the offense tonight? Seemed like it was misfiring.
“Not enough—we didn’t make enough plays to extend drives and get first downs. Missed some deep throws. Close. Just…you know, give Iowa credit. They tackled, they blocked, they played a very good football game. So, congratulate them and move on.”
How about your defense? They stood tall pretty much the whole game, it seemed like. Stribling had a big interception. Talk about what
“Yeah, they—I thought they played well most of the ballgame and it was a low-scoring, hard-fought football game.”
Did you think with the facemask, I didn’t see it, but did you see it from your field position?
“I didn’t see it either.”
Did you get any explanation?
What did you tell your team after this game?
“Big things and every little thing isn’t going to go our team’s way or anybody’s way. Every little thing doesn’t always go your way, and we’ll make—to make it a win you’ve got to make it that way. We didn’t do enough to make it that way tonight.”
[After THE JUMP: more words]
Might be a broken record, but might that have been Wilton Speight’s best game, and could you talk about how he extended plays by sliding around in the pocket when he needed to?
“Yeah, that was…statistically, and just the eyeball, that’s the best half of football I’ve ever seen a Michigan quarterback play. I think the statistics back that up. Yeah, moving and throwing and accuracy and extending plays, all of the above. I don’t know how you play better than Wilton did. I think there was one throw that wasn’t a great throw. That was it. Other than that, it was a perfect game as a quarterback and that’s really tough to do.”
This team continuing to roll. How much more enjoyment do you get out of seeing these guys as the season progresses and you see the execution as it is each and every week?
“I enjoy it a lot. I really felt that the week of practice we had was outstanding, and then you, when you have a week like that where it seems better every week and the practices are really sharp and crisp, then you want to see that again on gameday. You feel like if you’re good in practice you’re going to be good in the game, and I thought our guys were great in practice this week and then they were great in the game, so that, get a lot of enjoyment from that.”
De’Veon Smith went over 100 yards. I know you talk a lot about liking how hard he runs. How’d he look to you today?
“He looked great. He really did. He was one of the big factors in our team’s success. We didn’t punt again in the ballgame. I don’t know if we’ve done that in the season—maybe one or two times. But it was, a big part was him. The yards he got after contact were real eye-opening, and he’s so tough to get down. Three touchdowns, but extending drives and contributing. We had a lot of first downs today, and he contributed to that in a big way.”
Clearly the scoreboard reflected it, but what was it like for you to coach against DJ Durkin, your former defensive coordinator, and what were the emotions that went into it?
“The normal emotions. Definitely a friend. Watch what he’s done at Maryland, he’s doing a fantastic job. And what he did for us, what he did for our football team—he was a great contributor to our ballclub.”
[Hit THE JUMP to find out what offended Harbaugh’s football sensibility and the football gods themselves]