Monday Presser 9-25-17: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on September 25th, 2017 at 6:00 PM

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[Fuller]

Do you have an update on Wilton [Speight] and his condition?

“If we were playing a game this week he wouldn’t be able to play and we’ll assess it as we go.

“Somebody asked me—Angelique?—what I thought of the play. After having seen it now, I thought it was egregious. If I had a stronger word to use I would use it. With all the emphasis on protecting defenseless players, it appeared that the player knew what he was doing, targeted the head and neck area when the player was on the ground, and accelerated into it. Surprised they had two officials standing back there that were both looking at it, plus a review in the press box, that that wasn’t a targeting, that wasn’t a personal foul.”

Is that something that you contact the Big Ten about? There were other hits in that game, too.

“Yeah, yeah. We will contact them.”

What do you get when you do contact them?

“You get a piece of paper back that says they agree or disagree and has a short explanation.”

So it doesn’t really solve anything.

“With all the emphasis that’s been placed on the safety of the game, et cetera, I think it needs to be addressed. Needs to be answered.

“And the other thing, in a very good spirited way, we are gonna look at everything we can do for the visiting team here at the University of Michigan as it relates to a standard of care for the visitors on multiple levels. It’s become apparent after going around to all the visiting schools over the last couple years that [there is] a conscious effort of gamesmanship that is unsportsmanlike. You have locker rooms that are too small; they’re not heated or cooled properly—in this case there’s no air conditioning; such a tight, cramped environment; you’ve got to open the doors to get some kind of ventilation going in a very small area; people are walking by, they’re watching you dress; a number of urinals or bathrooms for the players and staff, I think there was two; there’s not even a private door around it; and then mainly the health and safety of the players. Very small space for a training room to have nothing in it. This is no different than the facility I think I saw when I was there in 1986.

“And not putting this on Purdue, this is league-wide. It needs to be addressed by the league, by the commissioner, and we’re going to lead the way. We’re going to look at what we have, but there needs to be a way to x-ray a player at the stadium. There needs to be a minimum standard of care for the players. Again, we put a lot of emphasis into health and safety of the players, but it doesn’t even seem sanitary. You were all in there. We’ve already talked about the heat, and it seems to be a conscious effort to gamesmanship, to get an advantage over the opponent.

“And I wish I had taken a picture of the actual table that it given to the visitors to put the players on when they’re injured. I mean, it looks like it’s from the ‘20s. It was ripped, it was—it’s just not good. I think that’s a pattern in the Big Ten. I asked Don Brown, ‘Did you see the same thing in the ACC?’ ‘Not to this extent.’ Did not see it to this extent in the Pac 12 when we coached there, and you could keep going on. Injured players who can’t get an x-ray, taken to a student health center in a van, we needed a brace for a player and there wasn’t one at the facility we were taken to. There’s a lot of things that needs to be addressed.

“Talked to Warde [Maneul] about it and I would ask that the rest of the Big Ten coaches look into this as well and make this a priority. We’re talking about all of our players here, and we’ll start first with us and make sure that you have guests, you have visitors that are coming in, that their health and safety needs are being addressed.”

[After THE JUMP: “Gamesmanship should cease at… the point of health and safety for the players.”]

Did you put the starters on a bus before the game, an air-conditioned bus?

“I said that they had the option to go in there because as I just said, it was so cramped, it was so hot, it was like a hot box. Really the only way to get relief was to open the doors. Again, you have people watching you dress. It’s not good. I’ve seen this at other facilities in the Big Ten. It needs to be addressed by the commissioner. I would hope that they would look into it immediately. Hope that it does some good.”

I don’t know if you can go into any more detail than you just did about that but what is the next step? How quickly do you hope teams can turn that around and when you say Michigan leading the way, what type of thing are you hoping to do?

“We’ll look at visitors’ locker room, our facilities there. It’s 2017. We should all be able to—I know we provide a floral x-ray but what else could be done? X-ray machines in the stadium. Enough space. Hot water. I think we do provide that. Multiple bathroom facilities that somebody can be in and they’re sanitary and it’s clean. But what else can we do? Got to make sure that ours is good as well and come up with a whole procedure, protocol, of what the standards should look like and hope that all the teams follow.

“And request that they do. Together we should be able to do this and I urge my fellow coaches to weigh in as well and get their thoughts. I think it’s something that we can all agree on that it is 2017, it’s not the ‘30s, it’s not the ‘40s, it’s not the ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, or ‘80s. There’s been advancements and it needs to—our stadiums need to reflect that. Visiting locker rooms need to reflect that. Gamesmanship should cease at the line, the point of health and safety for the players.”

Switching gears a little bit, obviously the bye week’s good for Wilton to rest up but given the way the offense is clicking, especially in the second half where it looked probably the best it has all year, is there ever a bad term for a bye week in terms of momentum? Would it be almost better for you guys to play this weekend instead of having this break momentum-wise? Does it throw anything off?

“We treat it as an improvement week. So we’ll be looking for improvement. Better today than yesterday, better tomorrow than today. See if we can’t get a mile an hour faster. See if we can’t get 1% better. Maybe 4% better. Maybe 0.01% better. But we’ll be looking for improvements.”

For John though, saying if Wilton can’t go, for John he’s coming off one of his best games of his career. I imagine he’s probably itching to get back on the field. With the bye week, does that throw a quarterback off in any way?

“Same for John. Looking for it as an improvement week, and all the players on our team: starters, backups, contributors, reserves, the very, very young players that haven’t played yet. The entire team. Coaching staff. All of us will attack it with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.”

You mentioned Wilton not being able to play this week if you had a game. Have you talked to him? How’s he doing? How has he taken the last couple of days?

“Very tough guy. I mean, he’s very hopeful to be back soon.”

What are your thoughts on night games? Do you have a preference for kickoff on home games?

“Yeah, I prefer they’re kicked off at 12 o’clock, 1 o’clock on a Saturday afternoon.”

Why is that?

“It most appeals to my football sensibility. Just a personal thought there. Definitely not Fridays, not Thursday, not Wednesdays, not Tuesday or Mondays or Sundays in college football. Saturday, prefer the 1 o’clock kickoff but understand that there’s 3:30 kickoffs, there’s 4 o’clock kickoffs, there’s 7:30 kickoffs, et cetera. We’ll get ourselves prepared.”

You mentioned adjustments after the game. You mentioned you guys did a lot more play-action stuff with John and it seemed to get him going. His overall vision, it looked like he knew where he was going with the ball right away. When you look back and watch the tape, what did you see from him overall and in the second half when things took off?

“Yeah, that was my impression coming out of the game was John was seeing things very well from the moment he went into the game and thought that that was the case the entire game. Very good with his mechanics. Rhythm was good. Seeing things very well.”

You talked about courage plays, too. He stepped into some throws. Did you see some of those out there?

“Yeah, he played a very good ballgame in all respects.”

How would you assess the O-line play? And some of the protections, how much of that was on the O-line and how much of it was on the backs when they had some breakdowns there?

“We—I’m not going to go into who had more breakdowns, but yeah, we got—there was few times we got beat. That’s something we’re gonna work on, as always.”

As you’ve kind of gone into the hit on Wilton, I think you said it was a soft-tissue injury over the weekend. Is that still the way you’re diagnosing it and what part of the body is he ailing in?

“Think back to two weeks ago. We had a similar press conference. I’ll refer you back to that answer at that time.”

You’ve talked a lot in the past about football as a bastion of toughness and manliness and you did again after this game. As you guys take the lead on improvements for visitors’ locker rooms, what message do you want to send to your players about how those two things might or might not be related, toughness and having sanitized locker rooms and having to fight through that versus creating an environment where that’s not necessary?

“Where it’s not necessary? I’m not following you. I’m not—fighting for our players and the other players, the student-athletes around the conference.”

You’ve talked a lot about toughness and how nothing makes you feel more like a man than going in an beating the elements. You have that view and you also want to create an environment for the visitors where they maybe don’t have to fight—

“Do you disagree?”

No, certainly not.

“I’m just saying there should be a minimum standard of care for the players for the health and safety.”

---the message is--

“The message is it’s a clear message: I think it’s on us as leaders, coaches, athletic directors, commissioners of conferences to address it, plain and simple.

[SID calls on person for last question]

“But I will say, as far as our players are concerned, turn on the film in the ballgame, there’s nothing that would suggest with their play that it was a hot day, you know? They played all out. They played fast. They played really physical, and I’d point especially to Chase Winovich, Rashan Gary, Mo Hurst, Devin Bush, a secondary that’s quietly doing a heck of a job with very little fanfare of self-promotion. Lavert Hill is playing extremely well. So is David Long. Tyree Kinnel as well; missed a tackle or two. Josh Metellus also playing very physical and doing a heck of a job.

“Chase Winovich—there’s some Rashan Gary plays that are…we talk about his athleticism and we talk about his speed; you’ve all mentioned that. Turn on play 17 and turn on a few other ones where it’s about as physical a play as you’re going to see from anyone on a football field. Chase is playing like JJ Watt. Thought he had his best game ever as a football player. There was a play, I don’t exactly know which play it was number-wise, but they had thrown the ball to the tight end and he was mauling us on the sideline; went through two or three tacklers. Chase had been on the rush of the quarterback, turned and went and made the tackle. Kept the tight end in the end zone or he would have gotten into the end zone. But the ground he covered to get there, first rushing the quarterback and then turning and making the tackle kept him out of the end zone. We ended up holding them to a field goal at that point. Really noteworthy.

“Mo Hurst is really, really tough to block. Quite impressive. So yes, they did overcome the elements. Both teams had to out on the field. Not conflating the two. Just—it was very impressive. When you turn on the film it did not look like a hot day the way our guys were hustling. Playing football.”

I just mean that it’s significant that you’re leading this effort given someone that has that view. At what point did you start to notice this gamesmanship, as you put it?

“I think some of you might have noticed the same thing. I think we all kind of noticed it together and at that point—”

Certainly, but you said you noticed it around the conference. Was it early on, as soon as you got here?

“No—at this point, I mean, are we good with this? I think we’ve plowed that question about as thoroughly as we can. Over the course of the time I’ve been here.”

The running backs have been very effective this season. How would you evaluate Jay Harbaugh’s job so far?

“I think our coaches, all of them, are doing an outstanding job, each and every one of them. I think Jay’s going a good job. Special teams, he and Chris are doing a spectacular job there. Thought we did  an excellent—did a very good job in this ballgame. Who won it or who lost it, it was pretty even.

“Nice to see Brad Robbins go in and have a competent game and really perform well as a first-time player. First time he’s seen the field. Thought that was great. Thought there was a lot of good.

“As long as Don Brown’s good, I’m good. You wanna know what my happiness is or my mood is like? Don Brown’s mood’s good, I’m good. More Don Brown!”

On Tarik [Black], is there any update on whether he could return this season?

“Not quite yet, yeah. It’s gonna be a process. See how things heal. Cracks, fractures heal. Not a medical doctor but I know it takes some time. Gets sticky and…”

Just didn’t know if after surgery—

“Yeah, you Google stuff like that, bones, how long does it take—”

[The room laughs]

“I’d refer you to that.”

To Google? Or WebMD?

“Yeah, to a medical doctor. Yeah. Certified, board-certified, trained medical doctor, which is not me.”

Comments

EGD

September 25th, 2017 at 7:04 PM ^

Leaders and best right there. And whatever idiot reporter kept trying to conflate dirty and unsafe locker rooms with overcoming elements on the playing field could use a good slapping up.

Page

September 25th, 2017 at 7:20 PM ^

JH press conferences are the best coffee spitting Monday day-breaks. To borrow the Bud Light commercial mocking bee piss drinkers, every time JH sharts on a stupid question, e.g. "I refer you to two weeks ago.", we all clink beer glasses and say "dilly, dilly" in total agreement.

kehnonymous

September 25th, 2017 at 6:20 PM ^

Jeez Louise, some of these questions.

You’ve talked a lot in the past about football as a bastion of toughness and manliness and you did again after this game. As you guys take the lead on improvements for visitors’ locker rooms, what message do you want to send to your players about how those two things might or might not be related, toughness and having sanitized locker rooms and having to fight through that versus creating an environment where that’s not necessary?

Seriously, is Drew Sharp's ghost possessing the beat reporters?

war-dawg69

September 26th, 2017 at 8:20 AM ^

So fuck it, lets just make the visitors locker room an open barn with pig feces and urine on the floor. Let's have no roof and rusty nails sticking out of the floor and walls. As a matter of fact, let's throw in a couple live wolverines that have not eaten in a week. Maybe a few deadly snakes also because a visiting should have to show there toughness. I am sure I could think of several ways to make the visiting extremely uncomfortable. Who ever was asking these questions is a complete idiot. the visiting team should not have to be dehydrated and cramped into a shed. Purdue is a second class university and it shows. Iowa with there pink locker room is childish and quite honestly shows insecurity. Any team that has to try to gain an advantage by having unsafe and filthy accomadations sbhould not be in the big ten.

As far as this bullshit walk through I really dont get it. So if the Michigan member says we will need more space, better bathroom facilities and air conditioning purdue was going to provide these things in a week. Ya complete renovation in a week, what a fuckin joke. I imagine the real teams of the big ten don't have to provide shit locker rooms to gain some unfair advantage. The three schools I would guess for sure that have the best visiting facilities are Michigan, psu and osu. I am sorry but painting the visitors locker room pink reeks of deperation and I for one am glad Michigan does not feel they have to provide shit accomodations to help them.

WolverineMan1988

September 26th, 2017 at 2:43 PM ^

Not sure how much this is worth, but here's an ESPN post from Adam Rittenberg:

 

Here's how a former Big Ten assistant assessed 12 of the visiting locker rooms in the league. It's definitely a problem. 
 
Illinois = pathetic.
Purdue = pathetic.
Nebraska = OK.
Wisconsin = OK.
Iowa = OK.
Michigan = below average. 
Michigan State = pathetic.
Minnesota = nice.
Maryland = pathetic.
Northwestern = pathetic.
Penn State = OK. 
Ohio State = below average.
 
 
This would indicated that Michigan is not at the top of the conference at this point in terms of locker room accomodations.  I'm guessing this assistant clearly didn't mind the pink walls at Iowa that much.

skegemogpoint

September 25th, 2017 at 6:26 PM ^

Tim Brando exhibited a degree of ignorance and cynicism in his response to Harbaugh's plea for a league wide initiative to improve the health, safety and welfare of student athletes that seems almost impossible to excuse. That Glen Mason of BTN not only liked this tweet but wrote "agree" seems like a fireable offense to me. How does a guy who works for the B1G agree with someone who says athletes should only get proper care if and when Harbaugh releases depth chart to media? Absolutely unconscionable.

stephenrjking

September 25th, 2017 at 6:30 PM ^

Ok, so there's been some talk on twitter about Harbaugh's remarks. Mostly the ones about locker room standards, also some tweets about game start times.

And, seriously, why do people overblow them so much? He's not complaining about the kick times for the game, he was asked a question about what time he preferred and he answered. This is not some big burn on the tv agreement or the AD.

Meanwhile, yes, there were issues with the Purdue locker room, and he spoke about conditions. But read what he said: He explicitly said that it's not just Purdue, and that it needs to start with Michigan, to have some basic standards about locker rooms in the conference. He's not just burning Purdue here, he's saying there should be something protecting the athletes in the 21st century.

And national media people are weighing in like it's a huge thing and bringing up the roster red herring. Ridiculous. 

Notice also: Very carefully worded, very carefully delineated thoughts. Not just random spouting. And notice also that he's bringing this up after a win, not after a loss when it might seem like sour grapes. Wouldn't surprise me a bit if this thought occurred to him last year after Iowa, but if you bring this up after Iowa it will be interpreted as an excuse for a loss. 

Stuff is way overblown here.

pistolwolf

September 25th, 2017 at 6:57 PM ^

look, if there was a video of harbaugh screaming and throwing a chair before that game do you really think everyone would be saying how cool  and motivating it was? hell no , the headlines would be about what a big dick and attention hound he is.

   people dont want to  believe it but harbaugh is one of the most genuine coaches out there. he speaks his mind and gives honest answers to questions. but it is trendy to hate him and gets you attention if you talk about him so they do.

stephenrjking

September 25th, 2017 at 8:18 PM ^

I believe it is also quite spartan and small. The color is unimportant--it's not a player health/safety issue. That's acceptable gamesmanship, something he specifically drew a line on the other side of.

But I also recall hearing that it's pretty rough comfort-wise. Since Harbaugh isn't just talking about Purdue, but the entire conference, this seems like one of the logical places to check.

bluesparkhitsy…

September 25th, 2017 at 10:12 PM ^

I have no desire to even know a person who would try to spin Harbaugh's remarks as anything other than a coach caring about the health and safety of his players.  I'd feel the same way if it were Urban Meyer leading this charge.  And Harbaugh did it the best, most-Michigan way possible: by saying we need to lead by example.  And as you pointed out, he did it after a win so there can be no credible suggestion by anyone that this was sour grapes.  It makes me damn proud that this man is the Michigan coach.

Seriously, what is up with these reporters.  This was a genuinely newsworthy subject until one or more of these reporters tried to spin it as anti-toughness.  And did none of them want to know anything about actual football?

Michigan Arrogance

September 26th, 2017 at 7:07 AM ^

I also am expecting MSU to complain in two weeks that the TP in one of the stalls in their locker room ran out and blah blah blah "standards." 

 

Honestly, the best thing I've read re: visitor's locker rooms is to make it as comfortable as possible. Like your grandmother's house. Hard candy on end tables, doilies on the arms of chairs, fuzzy lamp shades on all the lights. offer them drinks, but only unsweetened tea and grape juice. water that tastes kinda funny somehow, just enough to want to not drink it even tho you're slightly thirsty.

the irony with those places is that you still somehow don't feel comfortable in those rooms b/c it's all sooooooo staged and the chairs aren't really that comfortable b/c they aren't the kind you'd be able to lie down on. You know, like a couch with the clear plastic covering 100% of it. 

Big Boutros

September 25th, 2017 at 6:33 PM ^

Was that reporter insinuating that Harbaugh is not tough because he didn't just keep his mouth shut about the Purdue locker room? That's interesting. I wonder who that was

BlueMetal

September 25th, 2017 at 10:41 PM ^

I think it took until the last question about it before I possibly understood.. but I think the point he's trying to get to is does the fact that Jim Harbaugh is leading the charge on this locker room thing versus another coach who isn't always talking about toughness and steel in the spine, and whole milk give the entire message a little more substance. That's kind of what I got from it although I think the reporter did a terrible job with that exchange.

war-dawg69

September 26th, 2017 at 8:54 AM ^

Dehydration has zero to do with toughness. It has to do with death though. Like I allready wrote there are several ways Michigan could turn there visiting locker room into a complete shithole, so the visiting team can show there toughness. Take the roof off. Fill it full of pigs for several weeks before the season. Dirt floor and rats. Deadly snakes and unfed wolverines. To me providing nothing but good facilities is the same as that. Painting the locker room pink reeks of desperation and is childish but a hot box is dangerous and stupid.

As far as the so called walk through, that is a frekin joke. So the rep. from Michigan says that the locker room is inadequate. It will need to be much larger, more bathroom amenities and it will have to have air conditioning because it is going to be 90 freakin degrees. Was purdue going to be able to provide any of this.......ahh total renovation in a week. What a joke!!!. These simple things should allready be in place and Purdue is flat out a second rate institution. As a matter of fact any school who provides less than adequate visiting facilities is pathetic. The thing that amazes me is that this has never been addressed before. How can you expect a player to respect the school there visiting when they have to suit up in squaller. Really just sends the wrong message.

I have lost a lot of respect for Purdue and Blotchman. They are a dirty football team and have zero sportsmanship. There coach is sending the wrong messages to his team and he is by far the whinniest coach I have ever seen. He was more than cool with his team talking shit until they lost and made them look real bad. Brohm is a typical football coach and just seems like a real asshole. His team is a bunch of late, illegal hittting pieces of shit, who can't do much more than talk shit. Tricks plays, talking shit, illegal late hits and cramped dangerous and filthy amenties. Purdue has so much to be proud of. Wish nothing but bad shit upon this second class university and football team. Brohm and purdue football...FUCK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

Reader71

September 25th, 2017 at 6:35 PM ^

How could you possibly find something wrong with wanting to elevate the minimum standard of safety and care for student-athletes? It's obvious his problem isn't with that, so it must be with the previous comments about toughness. But why does he think there is any inconsistency with that? You can be a very tough guy and still need a neck brace.

The sports media is a fucking joke.

Steves_Wolverines

September 25th, 2017 at 6:45 PM ^

Yeah that reporter obviously had an agenda; get Harbaugh to come off as a whiny coach when the conditions aren't in his favor, while at the same time being a hypocrite for preaching toughness and playing the toughest sport in the world. 

There is no comparison to a linemen fighting for 60 minutes in a football game, to a University specifically not having proper medical readiness or accommodations in the visiting locker room to prevent heat stroke. What a ridiculous slant to take against Harbaugh, and I'm glad he handled it the way he did. 

michfan23

September 25th, 2017 at 8:00 PM ^

Yes! I wasn't aware of all the issues on Saturday, but as more info comes out, I'm even more impressed with this win. Not only did the defense dominate a team that was supposed to test them, but they did it under tough circumstances. Special credit should be given to the strength and conditioning team who clearly had the players ready. That doesn't happen in a week, these guys (and most importantly players) bought into the work. That's a huge compliment to the coaches and players.

UMForLife

September 25th, 2017 at 6:46 PM ^

I cannot believe other coaches and Ads are not behind this. Player safety is lip service. Anything to hate on Harbaugh. Glad he took a stance and happy to hear that Urban Meyer agreed with it.

Monocle Smile

September 25th, 2017 at 6:49 PM ^

All the people "not impressed" with Harbaugh in press conferences can suck it. Even if he didn't kill it here and just glared at everyone, he'd get a gold star from me, given those questions.

Swayze Howell Sheen

September 25th, 2017 at 6:50 PM ^

Love the coach and love what he stands for. 

Hate the media for its ridiculous and bizarre portrayal, but that's the media I guess. They always want to tell a story or narrative and when they get the narrative wrong ("Jim, he's the crazy one with the antics!") they don't know how to fix it.

 

softshoes

September 25th, 2017 at 6:52 PM ^

At the moment Harbaugh is the straw that stirs the drink, the drink being college football. So when he comes out with thoughts like this that no one else has to date.  It's my impression that the reporters think if they hammer him enough he will give them a better quote. If the fact that Speight was taken to a hospital in a passenger van with no neck/back protection isnt enough to make them see where JH is coming from then fuck em. He should have shut it down at that point. If he did that though that would have been the lead story instead. No winning at this point.