Ohio State Postgame Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 29th, 2015 at 11:58 AM


Can you just share what your message to the team was after this tough loss?

“That was for the team, not for public consumption.”

Obviously they’re a big read-option team. What were they doing, and why did you think your defense struggled so much to stop the run today?

“Yeah, they’re very good and they got after us running the football and I think the number one thing was we weren’t tackling well enough.”

Any thoughts on Jake Rudock having to end the regular season on the sidelines?

“Uh, it’s what happened. Went down on his shoulder. I don’t know how serious it is. AC to the left shoulder.”

Could you just talk about some of the improvements throughout the season from when you took over in fall camp to this point now? Obviously this isn’t the result you were looking for, but 9-3 on your first year.

“Well, yeah. We’ve talked about it many times. Very proud of the team: the way they’ve worked, the way they’ve progressed, and we’ll just stay at that. Closed quite a bit of ground. Still more ground to close on, but knowing our team they’ll stay with it.”

You talked about putting steel in your spine from previous losses. Is that what this is more of, especially against a rival like Ohio State?

“Well, we got beat. Didn’t play well enough in the game to win it, but we’re gonna regroup, come back with the same drive and aspirations that we’ve had: win the next game.”

You said earlier in the week that you thought Jabrill was a really good running back, and obviously we saw more of him. Were we going to see more of him used in the second half if the game had been a little bit tighter?

“Uh, yeah, he was in the second half.”

[Hit THE JUMP to see my question go over as successfully as the rest]

Would we have seen more of him in the second half-

“You saw him in the second half.”

MGoQuestion: Especially early in the game, you went with three down linemen. What did you see on film from them that led to that decision?

“Uh…what led to- we didn’t stop the run well enough. I’m not gonna talk about schematics with you. Never do, so not gonna start now.”

Obviously injuries had taken their toll on your defensive line coming in. Did you think that depth was an issue today in your inability to stop the run?

“No, we’re not making any excuses. We didn’t win the game, and we’ll regroup. They played better.”

Your thoughts about the penalty on the attempt to block the punt in the first half.

“I don’t have any thought on it.”

The way Ohio State lost last week, they certainly seemed like they came in hungry, motivated, all that. Was it a level that you guys couldn’t quite reach? Did you see that difference in the way they came out?

“I don’t know about that. They played very well and they deserve credit. They played a very good football game and played much better than we did.”

You mentioned you guys had covered some ground this season and you have some more ground to cover. What areas specifically are you kind of looking at or is it too early to dive into that? What kind of ground is left to cover for this team?

“Yeah, no need to dive into that, as you said. We’ll regroup and come back with the same aspirations: win the next football game.”

Jim, along those line, as Jake [Butt] said about the passing game, you guys have made strides in the passing game. He said in a game like this you’d have to be damn near perfect. Just your thoughts on passing today and throughout the season.

“You talked to him already?”

Yeah. Jake Butt.

“Was that- was there a question there?”

Yeah, just your thoughts on the progress of the passing this season.

“Uh, yeah. It’s been good. Continue to strive to keep improving in all areas.”

It looked like you stopped and said something to Ezekiel Elliott coming off the field. What were your thoughts on his game today?

“He played really good. He’s a heck of a player and congratulated him on a good game.”

14-10 at the half. Did you feel like the game was going in a direction you could win it, or were there signs you were concerned about even in the first half when you were keeping it close?

“Yeah, we felt like we could win it at halftime.”


True Blue Grit

November 29th, 2015 at 4:04 PM ^

You can bet your bottom dollar that Harbaugh was EXTREMELY angry and upset by the outcome of this game, given his passion for the program and rivalry.  He's very seldom "chatty" or talkative to the press.  But I'd guess yesterday late afternoon he was about a .10 on 10 point chatty scale.  So, that's fine with me.  I trust that he and the coaches will do everything in their power to make sure this doesn't happen again on their watch.  He probably wanted to get the hell out of there as fast as possible so he could start working on something to fix it.  


November 29th, 2015 at 3:52 PM ^

exactly.  how in the world do these people cover sports for a living and come up with the crap they do.  "uh, so, um what is your feeling on how they ran all over you?"  what the hell do you think the answer is going to be?

i give credit to the mgoquestion, at least it involved something in the game.  obviously jim didn't want to answer it, but at least it's a good question.

Gentleman Squirrels

November 29th, 2015 at 12:25 PM ^

To be fair, I didn't want to talk to anyone after the game and even when I did, all I could end up saying were curses at OSU. For him to go out and actually give them credit for what they did and not throw anyone under the bus, that takes guts. I guess Harbaugh took the if you dont have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all approach.

Templeton Peck…

November 29th, 2015 at 3:04 PM ^

To provide some specificity when I call them "lazily posited." What I mean are questions like, "give us your thoughts on passing today and throughout the season," or "just your thoughts on the progress of the passing this season," or "your thoughts about the penalty on the attempt to block the punt in the first half" or "what kind of ground is left to cover for this team?" or "what were your thoughts on his (Ezekiel Elliott's) game today?" Those types of questions are lazily posited. Questions about "your thoughts" are lazy questions. They give the person answering the opportunity to do what JH did. "It's been good," "I don't have any thoughts about it," "He played really good," etc... The question by MGoQuestion was again a good one. "Especially early in the game, you went with three down linemen. What did you see on film from them that led to that decision?" That question demonstrates a depth of understanding from a technical perspective and it gives Harbaugh the opportunity to go into detail without talking about his emotions after a tough loss. As far as "not answering schematic questions," that isn't really true. He has demonstrated a willingness to do so in the past. After this game, not so much.



True Blue Grit

November 29th, 2015 at 4:10 PM ^

Almost all of these press people (at least the ones who have been to more than one JH press conference) should have figured out by now that he despises questions that ask him for his "thoughts" or "feelings".   Maybe if you catch him in the right mood during the off-season he might give an answer to one of those on occasion.  But certainly NOT after a football game and especially one where we lost.  


November 29th, 2015 at 6:56 PM ^

Absolutely nothing wrong with "Your thoughts on~" questions. It is the least confrontational way to implore him to give some kind of answer. If more direct questions are asked, he is often as not likely to respond with hostile answers.

Reminds me of dealing with a tempermental teenager, or a sulking spouse. How do you deal with those situations?

I know it is fashionable to pick on the media, but they are trying to do their job. They are more intelligent than you are making them out to be. Like it or not, for the most part, the media are the ones who stand between the tax-paying public and a very secretive football program, to help find us out what happens and why. Add to that the fact that they have bosses and deadlines and a public that is curious, and are only given limited access to find that out.

Contrary to what some people around here think, JH's job is "not just to win football games". Like it or not, he represents the university, and media obligations are an important part of that.

Bo and Lloyd and JH may have treated the media like the enemy, but that is no reason for us to. [see how well it worked for Richard Nixon]. Frankly, I don't think it is very smart- if you don't at least play ball, they will find something about the program to talk about, and it may not be good.  Be hard on them, and they will be happy to be very hard on you.

Templeton Peck…

November 29th, 2015 at 7:19 PM ^

And did you just compare Bo Schembechler, Lloyd Carr, and Jim Harbaugh to Richard Nixon? - False analogy. Your argument that they (media) are the ones who stand between the tax-paying public and a very secretive football program is a straw man argument. It has nothing to do with asking lazy questions. "Contrary to what some people around here think" - Appeal to the people. "Like it or not, he represents the university, and media obligations are an important part of that." - Wishful thinking. "Be hard on them, and they will be happy to be very hard on you." - Appeal to fear. That's all I've got right off the bat, but I'm sure that someone around here is smarter than me and could continue...


November 29th, 2015 at 8:23 PM ^

His response to the Mgoquestion, the only good one he was asked, was especially salty. He said something like - "I've never gotten into schematics with you and I won't start now" which......where do you go from there? That was brutal. Understandably he would be salty after this game and how we played but what do you do after that? Pretty much get up and leave because it's obvious he isn't going to answer ANY question, good or bad, at that point.


November 30th, 2015 at 9:18 AM ^

short answers to questions aimed at generating a story, then let's also understand the media's job in filtering commentary available to tell that story. Part of the game story was how elements of the offense and defense performed, part of the story is the emotional impact of a blowout loss to your rival, and part of it is the overall assessment of what happened in the game, ie, the turning point play, a near blocked punt that led to a penalty and then a huge run that opened the floodgates to a Buckeye win.

A reporter on this watch ought to be accustomed by now to the personality of this coach and how he would respond to questions that fail to intrigue him or in this case matter to him in the light of a difficult day for him and his team.

Regardless of how he responds, these are legitimate questions, and as our proxies, the media has both the opportunity, and what's more the obligation to ask questions that tell us more than what we witnessed. That is the primary  job of football beat writers. You can spin a question any way you want, you can ask it again in a different way or you can put it in context of circumstances that you hope would find empathy with your subject to draw out a more detailed comment. Sometimes, none of that works. In this case, that was true.

But don't blame the press for asking or how they phrased certain questions you know you would prefer getting better answers to, if only the questioner was more creative in how he asked. The context of the questions mattered not as to whether anyone would get answers. They got what they got, and now so do we as a result, with no special or greater insight as a result. I find it sort of silly to blame the press for doing its job when the coach is actually contracted to meet with them following a game regardless of outcome or his mood about that outcome.


November 29th, 2015 at 6:13 PM ^

Jim's contract includes media obligations. Otherwise, he wouldn't be there fielding questions - he's made that clear. So, that is part of his job. Also, the writers/journalists are largely familiar to the program and throw Jim those soft balls to allow him to drive whatever points he wants. It's a platform for Jim to push narratives...not a hard hitting expose piece. None of those media folk wanted to torch Jim and make a bad day worse. Obviously, Jim was even more short than usual due the rough day. But the journalists were doing their job and affording Jim to state his perspective of what happened for many curious and disappointed fans. The schtick is better following a victory.


November 29th, 2015 at 3:14 PM ^

What the hell is the matter with people? JH is a living version of Bo's speech. He will NEVER talk bad of the TEAM! And we should not expect or want him too!! He nor we should be pointing fingers or crying in our beer. We should be encouraging each other! This program made a GIANT leap this year. We were in the hunt for a BIG Championship and wispers of possible playoff appearance engulfed this program with a team largely unchanged from last years players.....

We lost to our rival. It sucks!! But we ARE on the mend. Even my OSU counterparts acknowlege this.


November 29th, 2015 at 12:18 PM ^

Harbaugh was not happy, that's for sure.

And for all those who think lack of focus by any of the coaches is something that will get a pass ... I would wager the coaches got the worst of it from Harbaugh after that loss. 

Going forward ... player attrition, a big signing class and some more transfers, and likely some coaching changes as well.


November 29th, 2015 at 4:49 PM ^

First, let me be clear: it's not me calling for a coaching change.  I simply mean that if Harbaugh determines a coaching changes is needed, then a coaching change will be made.  This is different from Hoke, who held tenaciously to "loyalty."

Agree -- some coaching changes will be due to coaches leaving for their own reasons:  promotions to HC, or Jedd Fisch moving on to something in the NFL perhaps.  Fisch's role as "passing game coordinator" seemed like a stop-gap thing. 

As others have cited, perhaps a new dedicated LB coach to fill the spot of a departed Fisch.

Also, I would not be surprised if Mattison retires after this year.  I am not advocating that, but it would not surprise me given his role in 2015 was to provide continuity.  Would love for him to stay, but his retiring would not be a shock.


Brown Bear

November 29th, 2015 at 2:31 PM ^

I love reading this. Bolden has been the biggest liability for 2-3 years now. Maybe he just isn't that good. Coaching isn't the problem. Durkin is a fine coach and can coordinate while coaching the Lb's. Who do you suggest they get rid of to get this "dedicated" LB coach?

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