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Harbaugh Downplays Ohio State Rivalry

During Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh's weekly press conference, he referenced the 1969 Michigan football team, Bo Schembechler and the indelible mark quarterback Jake Rudock has made on the Wolverines.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Jim Harbaugh looked out the Crisler Center windows at the snow and referenced the 1969 Michigan football team. That year, a new coach took over Ann Arbor and began the most famed era of Michigan football.

"Today, I’m most reminded of a time I wasn’t even here," Harbaugh said on Monday during his weekly press conference. "I just read about it and heard players from the 1969 team talk about the practice the week before The Game. There was snow. The snow was falling up on the banks. They came in on Monday, and as the story goes, Bo (Schembechler) assembled the entire team on Monday morning at 8 o’clock, called everyone down to the facility for a team meeting, and gave them all shovels. They went out to the practice field, and shoveled off the practice field and had banks of snow on the sidelines.

"Today, as the snow continues to fall, we’ve got about nine to 10 inches on the ground, I’m most reminded of that atmosphere and I wasn’t even here."

Though Harbaugh said that his players likely wouldn’t be shoveling snow anytime soon, that doesn’t mean his team doesn’t know the importance of preparation this week.

Harbaugh downplayed the importance of the rivalry to the media, however, with the most important detail being to "play better today than yesterday." He did say (without going into specifics) that there are numerous things that make this rivalry special though.

Otherwise, Harbaugh wouldn’t bite on much. When asked about Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, he implied that he found the coach vs. coach storyline silly.

"My reaction to the coach vs. coach buildup is he’s not going to be blocking anybody, he’s not going to be tacking anybody," Harbaugh said. "I’m going to be standing over on those sidelines, blocking and tackling nobody."

Harbaugh also didn’t lessen Ohio State’s achievements.

"They’re a tremendous football team," Harbaugh said. "I’m not going out on a limb by saying that. This is a remarkable team and what they’ve accomplished, the rate at which they’ve won, with numbing repetition. Tremendous coaching, tremendous program."

Quarterback Jake Rudock and safety Jabrill Peppers have wowed Harbaugh and Michigan fans this season. The pair will lead the Wolverines this week against the Buckeyes, with Peppers taking on multiple roles.

"Is (Peppers) a good running back? Yeah, yeah. I think so," Harbaugh said. "He’s a darn good running back. Year two might get a little crazy, it may be one of the things we look at."

Saturday in the Big House, Rudock will quarterback the Wolverines in his only game against the Buckeyes. In Rudock’s short tenure at Michigan, he made quite the impact on his coach.

"(Rudock has) left some marks on the record book, without a doubt, and he’s a fantastic player at a very high level," Harbaugh said. "In terms of respect and appreciation, he left a deep, indelible warmth in our heart for him. He’s so tough. … He’s been a godsend for our team."

NOTES: When Harbaugh was asked about the status of wide receiver Jehu Chesson’s injury, he said, "He’s been working through something. Yeah, I would (expect him to play)."