Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh stepped up to the stage to welcome in a new year of football at Big Ten Media Days in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium, the venue in which they won a Big Ten Championship last December.
Here’s everything Harbaugh said, courtesy of ASAP Sports.
Harbaugh press conference transcript
JIM HARBAUGH: Hello. Good afternoon. Pleasure to be here. More like football in a stadium.
What can I tell you? It’s been a tremendous off-season for the Michigan Wolverine football program. Our guys from literally days after our final game last year have been at work, attacking everything they do. There’s been zero entitlement the entire off-season and now and none really in the foreseeable future. So life is good.
Biological clock is ticking, and we’re ready to start and get the training camp under way. If there’s any questions, I’d be happy to take them.
Q. In this day where quarterbacks come and go quickly and the transfer portal, how have you made it work with Cade and J.J. last year, and how do you foresee that continuing as they go into this year?
JIM HARBAUGH: Last year made it work. Both had phenomenal seasons, J.J. in his true freshman year, Cade in his junior year. Both played outstanding winning football every time they went out there.
The really cool stat on Cade McNamara is over 50 percent of his drives end in points. I don’t know exactly what the number is for J.J., but it seems like every time he got in there and led a drive, it ended in points as well.
Both really good. They ask sometimes at other positions who’s going to play? I mean, the best player is going to play. We’re going to know who the best player is by who plays the best. Cade McNamara is going to be really tough to beat out for the starting quarterback job. J.J. McCarthy is going to be really tough to beat out for the starting quarterback job.
Q. Looking back at the success of last year, you guys knocked off Ohio State for the first time in your tenure. I wanted to ask how was this off-season for you, first off? Do you feel like you had a little bit of relief to have this monkey off your back in a way? And how you guys plan to carry that momentum into keeping this — that appearance in the Big Ten Championship, going and beating Ohio State consistently?
JIM HARBAUGH: It’s been a really good continuation from last year’s team. I think some of it, players that were on the team, they put in that work, they know what it was like, that good feeling of taking care of your business and having that success and being rewarded for it.
They also saw other players on the team, guys like Aidan Hutchinson, Hassan Haskins, David Ojabo, who put in that work, got that work in, and how much it paid off for them. Using your head, using your noodle, pretty easy to think, yeah, I want to do it just like they did it, I want to be where they are now. It’s been a continuation of that this entire off-season. Just been tremendous.
Q. How are you planning to carry the momentum from last year to continue to get to the championship?
JIM HARBAUGH: Yeah, we’re just going to continue to attack. That’s what I really love about this team. They really literally attack everything that’s put in front of them.
Q. Obviously this is your second year in a row now with a new defensive coordinator and you’ve got a new OF COURSE coming in as well. What is the transition process like with getting them up to speed with the team, and will there be any new concepts, new schemes installed based on the new personnel there?
JIM HARBAUGH: Defensively, there is a new defensive coordinator that wasn’t on our staff last year, Jesse Minter. I’d have to go back to before the 2021 season when I was looking for a defensive coordinator, my brother John recommended two coaches to me. He said you can have Mike MacDonald or Jesse Minter, really take your pick, they’re both great. One’s in the secondary, one’s a linebacker coach.
I talked to Mike MacDonald first, really liked him, and I talked to Jesse some but went down the road with Mike MacDonald. He did a fantastic job. Now he’s returning to the Baltimore Ravens as their defensive coordinator.
So I went back and talked to Jesse Minter right when Mike left, and just felt it was the absolute best thing for our team. Both Jesse and Mike MacDonald, along with my brother and Wink, had really devised that Ravens defensive system. They were in on the ground floor. And an added bonus that Jesse Minter got a year of defensive play calling under his belt as the defensive coordinator at Vanderbilt.
So outstanding on offense. Both our co-coordinators were on the staff last year, both Sherrone Moore and both Matt Weiss were on the staff.
Matt Weiss is incredibly smart. He is one of those persons that, when you’re doing a project, so detailed, thinks about it from every angle, plans everything out. I’ve never met a play I don’t like and always feel that our players can execute anything, just give them the chance. Let’s just get started and get the project going. Damn the torpedos. I’ve never screwed up anything so bad that I couldn’t change it or throw it away. So we make the perfect, perfect blend really between Matt and myself.
Then Sherrone is really kind of — he is the living embodiment of both Matt Weiss and myself. He’s right there. And the most important, because he’s coaching the offensive line. So it’s an incredible group that way.
Also, Mike Hart does a great job in the run game, in the blitz protections. Ron Bellamy is another person like Matt Weiss, very detailed, very organized, very analytical about plays and projects. And Grant Newsome, who’s also on the staff as a graduate assistant as our tight ends coach, is tremendous and will be a great coach and already is.
It’s a tremendous group. We have some really great analysts as well. So I feel great about the offensive staff. I feel great about the defensive staff.
Q. You won the Big Ten Championship and made it to the playoffs. Both are huge accomplishments. What do you hope to achieve this season?
JIM HARBAUGH: So our goals would be to beat Ohio State and Michigan State in the same year, win the Big Ten Championship, and win the National Championship. Those are our four goals.
Q. Schedule-wise nonconference, group of five are the only opponents this year, I believe next year as well, and then Oklahoma and Texas come on board. Is there going to be more of a surge to get any more Power Five conference teams in the future for schedule for home games as opposed to the group of five?
JIM HARBAUGH: I don’t know.
Q. What goes into the decision-making on that?
JIM HARBAUGH: We played Power Five in the nonconference. We played Notre Dame, Washington. We played group of five in the nonconference. I’m answering your question. I don’t know if there will be more of a — how did you put it?
Q. Power Five. Where you get a Texas and Oklahoma coming to Ann Arbor. I’m getting feedback from Michigan fans that they wish there was more of those teams coming to Ann Arbor as opposed to the Colorado States, the Hawaiis, and the UConns.
JIM HARBAUGH: Well, you can share that feedback with some point with Warde Manuel, and you guys can discuss it.