Michigan Wolverines head football coach Jim Harbaugh spoke to the media on Thursday after the program opened its spring football camp this week. This was the first time we have heard from Harbaugh in this forum since the end of the season and major offseason changes were made.
Below is a recap of what he had to say on his new contract, the assistant coaching hires, changes made to the program and more.
- Harbaugh says that new DC Mike Macdonald was hired due to how good the Baltimore Ravens defense has been and insights from John Harbaugh. Says they interviewed several candidates but liked feedback on MacDonald. He’s “really good and really smart.” Likes the progress of the defensive staff so far.
- Maurice Linguist’s role as co-defensive coordinator will see him overseeing the back end of the defense and putting those pieces in place and how it relates to the front seven.
- Harbaugh says that the biggest takeaway from last season was how proud he was about how the players handled it and how they worked together to keep everyone safe. Praises doctors and medical staff.
- Theme between quarterback transfers has been an opened-up situation for guys to move on and compete elsewhere. Said that has been what he has seen with players electing to leave.
- Brian Jean-Mary’s departure opened up a spot on the staff and Harbaugh decided to add the best assistant he could find and reconfigure from there. Decided to pursue Matt Weiss despite plans for himself to coach quarterbacks. “Swung for the fences there.”
- Ron Bellamy and George Helow both said through the reconfiguration that they wanted to move their roles to whatever is best for the team. Harbaugh said that was music to his ears and gives him confidence that he brought in the right guys to his new staff. “I feel really good about where the staff is.”
- Harbaugh said he wants to attack every single day of the offseason and wants players and coaches to have the same energy. “I believe I’m setting the example in that regard.”
- On what he was looking to fix the most with offseason changes, says he did what he felt was best for the team. He wouldn’t go into comparisons or give reasons why but said a lot of thought and energy was put into the decisions that were made moving forward.
- Harbaugh wanted to be strong in all areas. Did not feel there was a disconnect anywhere in the program with his old staff. He said he was just looking for great coaches during his search for assistants. “I feel they are already-accomplished coaches given their age and that they will do great things in this profession.”
- Called the rivalry trophy that has been created by Northwestern and Michigan to honor the first African-American football player in Big Ten history is a great thing. “I think it’s phenomenal. It’s a tremendous idea. The life of Dr. Jewitt is incredible. It was fascinating to me reading about his life reading about his grandson Coleman Jewitt.” Jewitt was an educator at his junior high school and discovered a personal connection to that.
- On how the philosophy on the recruiting trail, Harbaugh says he has been impressed with how coaches have come in and shown a love for “getting into the trenches and forming those relationships.” That’s what the philosophy is and that’s what we have seen.
- Macdonald was involved in a defensive overhaul with the Ravens and said he knew the recommendation he got from his brother was one that he knew he could really count on. Said he believes Macdonald was destined to be the Ravens’ next defensive coordinator after Wink Martindale.
- J.J. McCarthy is doing “extremely well” with the quarterbacks. Donovan Edwards, Junior Colson, Greg Crippen, others among mid-year players that have come in and hit the ground running and have put in good work. “Good job taking care of their business on and off the field.”
- Harbaugh says that goals of his that went public in January are things that have been things he has lived by over the last nine years or so.
- On returning players taking ownership of last season and moving on, Harbaugh says that the mentality has been good. “They have been doing a very good job of attacking each day and being accountable. Holding each other accountable, too.” Have a bounce in their step and are having fun. Josh Ross, Aidan Hutchinson, Andrew Vastardis, Hassan Haskins, Black Corum named as standouts from the top of his head. “It’s been going very well.”
- Harbaugh says that it is hard to say right now how different the defense will look. There is a different language, different fronts and coverages. Says it could wind up looking a lot different than what people have been used to seeing. “It’s in the making and we are starting in base fronts and base coverages.” Depends on how quickly players pick it up before moving to the next layer.