Two simple words were all that had to come out of Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh’s mouth when he joined The Rich Eisen Show on Thursday and was asked if the competition was open at quarterback.
Harbaugh really likes the three guys that will compete for the starting gig this offseason. In fact, he expressed his admiration for all of his guys, but especially the most important position on the field.
“We’ve got some guys that we really love, and they have been chomping at the bit,” Harbaugh said. “There are guys who are excited to get back to working out with the team and practicing, but our quarterbacks, in particular, they’re chomping at the bit, which is better.”
“Chomping at the bit” is exactly the mindset that Dylan McCaffrey, Joe Milton, and Cade McNamara will all have to do persuade their head coach, especially with the lack of communication and practices due to the coronavirus outbreak. Harbaugh likened it to his first year as an NFL head coach with the San Francisco 49ers in 2011, a year where the league was shut down by a player lockout.
“There are some similarities (between this and the 2011 NFL lockout). You gotta really consider everything. Day by day. Week by week,” he said. “Plan for the different scenarios, and there is going to be a lot of them. Some you are going to learn more as you don’t know exactly when you are going to start. Also, try to be as creative and proactive, so you can be as productive as possible. Specifically with the quarterbacks.”
So how is Harbaugh keeping up with the most important position on the field? Thankfully, technology has played a huge role in prepping his guys for a strong position battle in the fall.
“We’ve been having Zoom meetings. We’ve been installing football and told the guys to learn the system the best (they) can,” Harbaugh said. “Be an expert at it when we get back to it, and also be in the best shape of your life, and throw the football. Get out and throw it every day. Each guy has done that and taken advantage of that and gotten guys to throw to.”
Then, Harbaugh went into detail of what each of the competitors for the starting role has been doing, starting with his backup for the 2020 season: “Dylan McCaffrey has been throwing to his brothers: Christian, Luke, and (Max).” I don’t think you get much of a better situation than McCaffrey has had. The familial ties with arguably the best running back in the NFL, another Big Ten quarterback in Nebraska’s Luke McCaffrey, and Max McCaffrey who has bounced around the NFL as a wide receiver. Oh, and don’t forget his dad Ed who played 13 NFL seasons and has certainly helped coach up his boys during the pandemic.
Next is the guy who sort of snuck into the conversation at first, but now has a bunch of fan support, Joe Milton. The difference for Milton is that he has actually traveled amid the pandemic and has gotten some work in according to Harbaugh: “Joe Milton has been in Orlando and then he came back to Ann Arbor. He has a bag of balls and has found a couple of guys to throw with.” One of those guys is former Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner who posted this video with Milton on Instagram at the start of the pandemic:
Joe Milton putting in more work with Devin Gardner on his instagram pic.twitter.com/yNWA9cSbo8— ᗩᑎT ᗯᖇIGᕼT (@itsAntWright) May 20, 2020
Michigan wideout Ronnie Bell was also at these workouts in Florida with Milton and Gardner according to reports.
Last but not least is the dark-horse candidate, Cade McNamara. Harbaugh told Eisen that like the others, McNamara is working hard and his brother is going to be an incoming freshman at wide receiver.” That brother is Kyle McNamara, a two-star prospect from Lipscomb Academy in Tennessee. But this is beneficial for both of these Wolverines as Cade gets to toss the ball around with a Division I wide receiver and Kyle gets to learn the ropes and some plays from a potential redshirt freshman starting quarterback.
The players are putting in the work despite uncertain times. Harbaugh knows that there are a lot of factors at play, but is optimistic we will get football this season.
“In college football, there are multiple commissioners, school presidents, boards of regents. I know players on our team all want to play. We’re hoping for better news as the weeks go on,” he said. “People are doing the right thing. The curve is flattened. That is what everyone set out to do. Let’s keep going. Let’s keep attacking this with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind! The engines are revved and we want somewhere to go!”
Harbaugh also spoke on the subject of George Floyd, the Minnesota man who was killed on video by a police officer during an arrest on Memorial Day. Harbaugh, like most, has condemned the situation and hopes that charges are filed against all four police officers involved.
“I’m very upset about the George Floyd stuff,” Harbaugh said. “It’s just very horrendous. I’m just watching right now and I’m looking forward to there being an investigation and waiting for charges. That’s completely outrageous.”
Of course, Harbaugh has worked with the man who was a staple of bringing police brutality to the forefront of the national stage when 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem of NFL games throughout his career.
Harbaugh told Eisen that he and his former quarterback still keep in touch.
“A few weeks ago we texted,” he said. “Every now and then I will get a text from Colin (Kaepernick). I saw a graphic that said ‘This is why he knelt.’ Was it LeBron James who tweeted that?
“If you didn’t know then, you know now. That spoke volumes I thought.”
- Michigan basketball offered their first 2023 recruit, Omaha Biliew from Hillcrest Prep in Arizona. The 2023 class has yet to be ranked by 247sports, but Biliew already boasts offers from Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Arkansas, and others.
- In a Zoom meeting with faculty and staff at Michigan, Michigan interim provost Susan Collins said, “We are very optimistic that the University of Michigan will have a public health-informed, in-residence academic year” according to The Michigan Insider.
- Rivals.com listed their top-10 coaching hires since 2008 and left a notable exception. Harbaugh was not named on the list, and they let everyone know why:
So wait. No Harbaugh? Harbaugh has a solid record of 47-18 since taking over at Michigan, but he still hasn’t won his division, much less the Big Ten overall. And let’s face it, Michigan is a much easier job to take over and rebuild than most, so Harbaugh barely misses the cut.
Ohio State’s Ryan Day, Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly, Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst and P.J. Fleck of Minnesota all made the cut.