OT: Harbaugh Q&A

Submitted by tomhagan on November 18th, 2009 at 12:50 AM


Sounds like you had a special place for Stanford. Why did you end playing a Michigan

I grew up there third grade through 10th grade. Like a lot of kids in Ohio and Michigan, Ohio State vs. Michigan was the best day of the year. It was better than Christmas. I was on the sidelines as a ball boy and spotter, things like that. It was a wonderful way to grow up.

Why did you speak out about your academic experience at Michigan earlier this year, condemning them for steering athletes into general studies?

The whole thrust of that was basically I’d like to see more schools do it like Stanford does it. I wasn’t singling Michigan out. I wish more schools would have the kind of character that Stanford does as an institution. They won’t significantly cut corners for athletes here. They have a sincere desire for athletes to improve academically. They’re not just interested in how fast you run and how high you jump. There’s a standard to get into Stanford, to graduate from Stanford and a character that they will not cut corners.

Is not getting that history degree at Michigan something that you regret?

I’ve said this before. I had a tremendous experience at Michigan.



November 18th, 2009 at 1:16 AM ^

"They won’t significantly cut corners..."

emphasis on significantly ;)

Well, looks like he's patched up that burned bridge. Time to hire.

EDIT: it was a joke


November 18th, 2009 at 1:07 AM ^

That was from 2 years ago. I have Bo's book "Michigan Memories" and there is a page with young Harbaugh on the sidelines in the 70s as a ball boy working the game...with a section on Harbaugh in which Bo Writes:

"Thats Jim Harbaugh when he was one of our ball boys! I must have kicked him out of a hundred practices"

"And that's Jim Harbaugh (pictured under center) leader of men!"

"(The Ohio State Game) was better than Christmas" - Jim Harbaugh.

"There's absolutely nothing on earth like a football Saturday in Ann Arbor. That's what I lived for. On Friday Nights, I never slept. I got so keyed up for the games. I listened to a Bob Ufer record over and over so much that I actually wore it out. I memorized all the words.

I could never repay Michigan for everything that its done for me and my family. Not just for the opportunity to play football, but for everything that its done for me in my life." - Jim Harbaugh.

He gets it.

aMAIZEN slot ninja

November 18th, 2009 at 1:11 AM ^

Jim Harbaugh said things to get attention on him and his program. Does he really think this? i find it hard to believe. I would love to see hit facts to back his claim because i honestly dont think he can. Its just he said, she said BS. Jim was marketing his school and has done a hell of a job at it. Jim is a Michigan man, end of discussion.


November 18th, 2009 at 1:17 AM ^

I was at this game. It was so loud in my end zone seats with my dad when Kolesar scored.

PS: Imagine that...a Michigan defense that had only yielded 3 TDs all season long going in to the Buckeye game!!!


November 18th, 2009 at 12:50 PM ^

... this video almost brings a tear to my eye. I know it's long ago and far away, but something about watching Michigan manhandle tOSU is too good. Harbaugh wasn't reading defenses. If you look when he rolls out, each time he was looking for the primary receiver, and everyone just made the play work.

I know the slot ninjas are great when everything clicks, but when it doesn't, it's like watching a high school scrimmage.

Go Blue!


November 18th, 2009 at 2:20 AM ^

This isn't the first place I've posted this, but I feel that it's pertinent.

Michigan should hire Jim Harbaugh and hire him now.

Contention One is Inherency:

1. Rich Rodriguez is not a good coach. If you still aren't convinced, my words probably won't help. Nevertheless, Rodriguez's second half collapses this year and last are proof of his ineptitude. That I know of, there are only a few ways to explain collapses-- bad conditioning, schemes so easily solved that a few halftime tweaks render them useless, a failure to adjust at halftime, and psychological/mental breakdowns. All of those are the coaches' faults. I'm sure you've heard, every week Rodriguez breaks a new record and shatters a steak (the two consecutive losses to MSU, the loss to a MAC team, the home loss to Purdue, the biggest deficit to Ohio State ever, the first losing season since 1967, the first bowlless season since 1974, the worst record in Michigan football history). I'm sorry. You can't explain that away.

2. Michigan will be no better next year with Rich Rodriguez as its head coach, and may actually be worse.If any one can give me a reason to believe next years defense will be any better with the loss of Brandon Graham, Steve Brown, and quite possibly Donavon Warren with Rich Rodriguez (who always seemed to let up lots of points to mediocre opponents) at the helm, I'd like to hear it. The offense will get better, but not good enough to solve for our dismal defense.

Thus the plan: The University of Michigan Athletic Department should fire Richard Rodriguez and hire Jim Harbaugh as its Head Football Coach.

Contention two is solvency:

3. Harbaugh is a FANTASTIC coach. Don't believe me? He took an 1-11 team and turned them into a Rose Bowl contender, not the way around like some coaches with alliterative initials. He is the only coach to beat Pete Carroll twice in recent memory, and he did it without a two-deep composed entirely of former five star recruits. He also beat Oregon, who two weeks ago seemed to be the best time West of the Appalachians (or the Rockies, depending on how good you think the Big 12 is). Harbaugh has succeeded epically in a conference that is ostensibly mediocre, but that went undefeated in bowl games last year, dismantling highly touted Big 12, Big Ten, and SEC teams.

4. Harbaugh is a Michigan man. Harbaugh played at Michigan in a legendary, distant era of Michigan football where 5-7 was NEVER an improvement, and when bowl games and wins over Illinois, Wisconsin, and Purdue were rights not miracles, where no one ever questioned Michigan's morals, when the prospect of losing to a MAC team was hilarious, consecutive losses to Michigan State was unthinkable, and bowl games, Big Ten Titles, and top five finishes were abundant. Harbaugh is the last great hope to restore this era and our impenetrable defense and ram the ball down your throat offense(though I'd take less Miles too).

5. If we don't get him, someone else will. How painful, cruel, and ironic will it be to watch Jim Harbaugh, arguably the greatest quarterback in Michigan history, dismantle the Wolverine defense from Notre Dame's sidelines? Harbaugh seems to be the favorite of many Domers and armor-clad Raiders fans. So we need to pull up our socks and get going.

6. If we do ultimately get Harbaugh, the sooner the better. Any longer, and Harbaugh needs to rebuild us as he built Stanford, finding replacements for mediocre, undersized players who only function in temperatures over 75 degrees. Harbaugh needs to coach Michigan before the Carr talent has all graduated.

So, on Saturday, I will sit down and watch the Michigan vs. Ohio State game. And for the first time in six years, the results will not pain me. I will sigh and force a smile as our defense turns Terrelle Pryor into a deadly accurate machine reading our defenses as effortlessly as Stephen Hawking reads Dr. Seuss, knowing that at a painful era of our lives is coming to a close.


November 18th, 2009 at 9:37 AM ^

What's wrong with shattering steaks? Let RR do what he wants, if a man wants to smash a frozen steak once a week let him do what he wants for christ sake

Seriously though, in your point 1: "You can't explain that away" there are a ton of explanations including: Losing 11 starters on offense that included multiple NFL draft picks (and the number 1 overall draft pick), over 20 players leaving the team, extremely young team, blah blah I could go on but this been discussed thoroughly over the past couple weeks


November 18th, 2009 at 6:20 PM ^

Rodriguez's teams won two BCS bowl games at a school that had never won a major bowl game in over 100 years of football. I don't know many inept coaches who could pull that off.

Jim Harbaugh is 7-3 after two losing seasons at Stanford. His defense gives up 5.9 yards per play (Michigan's only gives up 5.7). If Pete Carroll had realized that you shouldn't try to move the leading rusher in the history of California HS football (Toby Gerhart) to linebacker or fullback, Harbaugh would be looking at another losing or .500 season.

I actually think Harbaugh is a good coach, but you my friend are just plain dumb.


November 19th, 2009 at 9:01 PM ^

Because I don't know a single person out in the real world who makes an argument using the format for high school policy debate. I haven't seen or used it in almost a decade until you posted.

Your #1 is bullshit. It's your opinion, so it's naturally bullshit, but it's also bullshit because RR's track record at every other school where he was the head coach indicates otherwise, and his performance at Michigan thus far is inconclusive, considering he has had only one full recruiting class to his name (I don't count 2007, since Lloyd recruited most of those guys).

Your #2 is bullshit. Your conjecture is not evidence, and it's certainly not actionable. Two players do not make a defense. They certainly are standouts. But there are 11 guys on defense - Campbell, Roh, Martin and VB will all likely improve, and if GERG is back, there will be consistency. Unlike you, I don't claim to know the future, but the signs point to a better defense. Time will tell.

Your #3 is laughable bullshit. Not because Harbaugh is a good or bad coach - the jury is still out on that one. But you completely ignore his first two seasons (4 wins and 5 wins, respectively) to further your own asinine agenda. Your hypocrisy is laughable - RR has had two bad years, but so did Harbaugh in his first two years at Stanford. FAIL.

Your #4 is bullshit, and irrelevant. Who gives a shit? Rich Rodriguez is the head coach of the University of Michigan. He's a Michigan Man now, like him or not. His pedigree is irrelevant, only competence matters. And he deserves a chance to prove that, for another season at the very least, and two in my opinion.

Your #5 is bullshit dressed up in urgency. "Somebody" already has him, and that "somebody" is Stanford University. Your conjecture about his future plans is not evidence for his efficacy.

Your #6 is "if-then" bullshit. Too bad MGoBoard doesn't throw exceptions for faulty logic...

Your closing statement indicates to me that you're either a troll or an idiot, and possibly both. A true Michigan fan roots for the team regardless of circumstance, especially against an Ohio Sate University.

Bill in Birmingham

November 18th, 2009 at 8:48 AM ^

I graduated in 1981. I have lived and died with Michigan football since I began following it in 1973. Jim Harbaugh is one of my three favorite players of all time. As I followed his coaching career as an NFL assistant then at San Diego, I hoped that if he grew as a coach as I expected he would, someday I would love for him to be our coach.

However, Jim Harbaugh is the coach at Stanford. Rich Rodriguez is our coach. I do not like Carr bashing, but RR did not inherit the normal "cupboard is full" Michigan roster. All we could hope to see this year is improvement, which we have on offense. We need defensive players in order to see real improvement which has been repeated around here ad nauseam. To not give the man a chance would be beneath this program.

I was extremely pissed with the infamous Harbaugh comments about academics. I was there before Harbaugh, but I saw Bo personally checking to make sure the players were studying in West Quad. I think his comments were self serving BS. However, I can't forget the promise Harbaugh made they would beat OSU the week after a major upset in 1986. Then he went out and delivered. He is getting a free pass from me for now. If the pattern continues, I will think again. However, because I loved the teams he led, I will continue to root for Harbaugh and Stanford.

However, Rich Rodriguez is MY team's coach. He has my support and will continue to have my support unless he proves he is not up to the job. He has not been given that chance and I do not expect that to happen once he has.


November 18th, 2009 at 10:35 AM ^

It was crappy to throw UM under the bus for academics. There was really no reason to do it and he could have communicated the same thought without bringing UM into the situation at all. Nevertheless, that stunt does not erode the years of incredible play he had at UM.

As far as the issue though, Harbaugh was absolutely right. When he called out UM, the academics of the football team were a complete joke. Only 20% of the team had declared majors - and of that 20%, more than 60% had majors in "General Studies." Moreover, in LLC's last year, 1 Junior declared a major - ONE!!! That is an absolute embarrassment.

The reality is that Harbaugh was more than right and - though he chose a crappy method of expressing that disdain - UM fans shouldn't vilify him for being right. He had an incredible career here and exposed something about the program that the bulk of fans were blissfully ignorant to.

In my e-pinion, Hart's comments were a total joke: "He's not a Michigan Man...I wish he never came here." Ummm...F - U!!! (a bit harsh!). Though you may be the golden child of the late LLC years and the star in most fan's most recent memories of UM football, but you didn't win a bowl game, you didn't beat OSU, and you were a key component of the two worst games I've seen in UM history: the HORROR and Oregon (albeit, injured for the two - but certainly vocal!). To me, Mike Hart has zero right to call out Jim Harbaugh - a Rose Bowl winner, Bo's adopted son, first-round draft pick, and victor over OSU. I don't want to say Mike Hart sucks and is the worst person ever b/c I am not. I am saying that a true Michigan Man wins on and off the field...and gets some of those on-the-field wins against OSU and Bowl Teams.

That being said, I like RR. I think he's a total stud and will deliver UM to the prominence we haven't really had - or earned - the last 6 years or so. He's a genius of the game and once he gets his players, he'll start destroying the Big 10. It's scary how good UM could be in 3 years if we stay the course. It's scary how bad UM could be if we fire RR right now.

Tim Waymen

November 18th, 2009 at 12:38 PM ^

So because Jim Harbaugh did a great job as QB at Michigan and beat Ohio State, he is more deserving of the Michigan Man title after throwing his own alma mater under the bus just to impress a bunch of high schoolers? Oh well, at least he beat Ohio State!

At times I act like it's more than a game. Well, it is. But I know that UM is a world-class institution that is defined more by its academics and research accomplishments than by intercollegiate football. Just because Harbaugh beat Ohio State while receiving a free education and mentoring by Bo and his staff, that doesn't give him a free pass to trash his university once he's out. It is completely wrong to say that his on-field accomplishments will always redeem if even if his off-field behavior is embarrassing and self-serving. Athletic accomplishment is one thing, but how you act as a person is way more important. The fact that he waited until after Bo died only makes it look more suspicious and reprehensible. Yes it sucks that Henne and Hart never beat Ohio State and I will never be able to forget that, but while at UM they represented their university with class in addition to winning, and they continue to do so today. That's far more than I can say for Mr. Harbaugh.

By the way, even though Harbaugh beat Ohio State 25 years ago, you do realize that he is only hurting Michigan's efforts today by making statements that undermine our recruiting.


November 18th, 2009 at 11:18 AM ^

Harbaugh's comments were probably true. However, he could have generalized and made the statement concerning most universities. There was no reason to single out Michigan in this matter. I hope he apologizes/already has in private because if things with RR don't work out, I would want him as our head coach. Despite his comments, I believe he is extremely passionate about Michigan and would jump at the opportunity to come here.

As for now, I've disagreed with much of what RR has done. However, he deserves one more year AT LEAST. It's only fair for every newly hired coach. We made this hire and we will live and die by it. That's just how it is. Hopefully, RR gets this turned around.


November 18th, 2009 at 12:01 PM ^

I agree with Bacon, what Harbaugh said was true, hell it is true that almost every big time college program steers its players into certain majors...I seem to remember a lot of criminal justice majors at various SEC programs. Why did he single out Michigan...don't know, maybe he f***ed up and didn't mean to single them out. But the truth hurts and it hurts us to not be able to say that our athletes are different, a fact many of us blindly believed. It hurt more coming on the heals of Carty's expose. At the time, I thought he would have been a great hire because of what he said...along the lines of, fine you think its broken, then you come in and fix it.

If he were to come here, I think he would be a great coach, for as long as he stays...I think he probably has NFL aspirations.

He would also get the rivalry. However, although I was never a supporter of the RR hire, you need to give the guy time, but only if you think he can get the team to improve...I don't have an answer for that. While the offense looks better, the defense does not and I don't call one Big Ten victory, given to us by the hands of poor officiating and blind replay booth guys an improvement over last year.

Either way with Billy Boy retiring, RR is her for another year...I hope he can get it done. Go Blue!


November 18th, 2009 at 12:41 PM ^

ESPN's Pac Ten blog quotes Tom Hagen of all people in this Harbaugh blurb:

Harbaugh: 2-point play 'wasn't personal'
November, 17, 2009
Nov 17
Comment Email Share
By Ted Miller
Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh was asked twice during the Pac-10 coaches teleconference Tuesday about his decision to go for two when Stanford took a 48-21 lead over USC with 6:47 left in the game.

The first time, he was asked if he was trying to send a message. Replied Harbaugh: "We were just trying to win a football game. ... The only reason we went for two was we really thought we could get it."


The second time, he was asked to clarify: So it was a strategic decision?

Said Harbaugh: "Yeah, exactly. ... I've been reading some people's opinion that somehow this is something personal with coach [Pete] Carroll. That couldn't be further from the truth. There was nothing personal. I'm not trying to make any enemies. Life's too short for that. The way our relationship has been is it's been very competitive. And I really enjoy especially pregame with Pete Carroll. He's very loose. He's funny. We kind of yuck it up before the game. We kind of always end it with 'time to go to war.' And then you go out and try to gouge each other's eyes out. You do the same thing in recruiting. It's great competition. But these games are decided on the field by the players. We enjoy watching it. We enjoy being a part of it. From my end, and I'm pretty sure from Coach Carroll's end ... from my end, it's nothing but respect for him and his program. Certainly there's nothing personal involved in this."


Harbaugh concluded by pointing out that his neighbor is a USC graduate: "She's been very defiant since the game and assures me that next year will be different."


What is the subtext here?

Feel free to reach your own conclusion, but know that the cheat sheet that all coaches use to figure out when to go for two doesn't say, "Go for two when you're up 27 with 6:47 left." In terms of logical strategy, in fact, both the point differential and the odds say the PAT is the correct choice.

We will leave you with three quotes that seem appropriate.

"This is business, not personal," Tom Hagen, "The Godfather."

"If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him," Sun Tzu, "The Art of War."

"Always compete," Pete Carroll.