Jim Harbaugh answered over an hour worth of questions at Big Ten Media Day on Monday, and narratives about his demeanor followed suit.
“What does a quieter Jim Harbaugh say about Michigan in 2018?” asked USA Today.
“Understated Harbaugh turns focus to winning” said the Toledo Blade.
“A muted, drab Jim Harbaugh is simply no fun” proclaimed the Chicago Tribune, who went on to say “I want Harbaugh to be JIM HARBAUGH.”
Might as well have said “DANCE MONKEY, DANCE!” there Trib’.
Hate to break it to these folks, but Harbaugh wasn’t all that quiet, understated, and Jim Harbaugh was still being Jim Harbaugh.
Implying you want Jim Harbaugh to be Jim Harbaugh classifies as a perceived image of the man in your head, not who he is as a whole.
I was at Big Ten Media Day, Harbaugh was engaging at times, with long answers about the offensive line, Winovich, Higdon, Evans, Patterson. He cracked a few jokes, the funniest was a reference to the comedy classic ‘This Is Spinal Tap’.
Jim Harbaugh just made this Spinal Tap reference and just won Big Ten Media Day pic.twitter.com/eaGTOWNaaZ— Maize n Brew (@MaizenBrew) July 23, 2018
It’s come to the point where if Harbaugh doesn’t do something that generates a ton of viral hits, some want to paint a picture that there’s something wrong. Harbaugh was asked if he made an effort to have a low-key off-season, he said no.
What it boils down to is the tough losses fuel Harbaugh’s fire to win even more. His demeanor was like any press conference you see him make on a Monday afternoon, he’s at the podium because he has to be, but in the back of his head he’s thinking about the next task at hand, the next thing he has to do that can improve Michigan’s chances of winning.
He had an obligation to be there, but he was ready to go back to work. I think that’s understandable enough considering he gave writers plenty of material, more often than not his answers were paragraphs long, not a sentence long.
So to counter the Chicago Tribune, Jim Harbaugh was definitely being Jim Harbaugh at Big Ten Media Day. He seemed to be in a better mood than his 2017 appearance and has high expectations for Michigan in 2018, but after answering the same questions repeatedly and being in Chicago for a few days, he’s beyond ready to get back to mission control and grind away for the year ahead. Harbaugh realizes how big of a year this is for himself and his team. Time goes by quick, Sept. 1 will come in a hurry, loads of coaching and planning will occur between now and then.
What I mean is, Harbaugh doesn’t have time to talk about Michigan’s record against rivals during his tenure, he doesn’t have time to talk about old days of glory, how he got his bike back from a bully when he was 10, he’s preparing for tomorrow and the tasks at hand, and anything that gets in the way of that is not productive enough for him.
While Harbaugh may not be considered the best coach in the Big Ten, he is definitely the most philosophical. He’s always thinking of ways to improve, differentiate instead of stagnate, and make changes to his coaching style and daily habits if he thinks it can help him win more football games.
If people perceive that train of thought as being “quiet” and “muted”, I’m sure Jim would say “so be it” and get right back on to plotting ways to beat his rivals, and everyone else on the schedule.
Whether you love him or hate him, Jim Harbaugh is still Jim Harbaugh, don’t buy narratives that say otherwise.