With fall camp wrapped up and the Michigan Wolverines football team’s attention now focused squarely on Colorado State, head coach Jim Harbaugh stepped to the podium Monday for his first press conference of the new season.
As was expected, much of the questions were in reaction to the stunning quarterback announcement this past Saturday in which Harbaugh — appearing on Jon Jansen’s Inside the Huddle podcast — announced Cade McNamara would start against the Rams, while J.J. McCarthy would start next week against the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors.
“Both have been tremendous quarterbacks,” Harbaugh said on Monday. “We think both can win us a championship, so we’re gonna keep cultivating that.”
The decision to extend the quarterback competition into the season was met with surprise, given Harbaugh’s propensity in the past both to have a starter settled and to keep the depth chart in relative obscurity until the season is in full swing.
When asked why he’s changing his approach for this year, the seventh-year head coach gave a classic Harbaugh answer.
“That’s biblical,” Harbaugh said. “No person knows what the future holds.”
Other noteworthy comments at Monday’s presser
On how the quarterbacks shaped up during fall camp — “Cade’s arguably the most improved player on the team and is playing some of his best football, J.J. did not have spring practice but he’s ascended to where he is based on his performance. It’s not a demotion for Cade, but it is a promotion for J.J.”
On Eyabi Anoma’s off-field behavior — “I’m not aware of the vague off-field issues you’re referring to, but as of right now he’s a college graduate and really vouched for by his teammates.”
On how he’ll judge each quarterback’s performance — “There’s not one criteria you can really plug in and say ‘this’ll be the factor, that’ll be the factor’ — I want both of the quarterbacks to keep playing their game.”
On the external reactions to the quarterback announcement — “I see the things written, the adage ‘if you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have any’. Is that true? Is that a fact? I don’t think that’s a proven fact.”
On Mason Graham’s ascension to the top of the depth chart — “He wasn’t a starter going into fall camp, Kris Jenkins really was. Now Jenkins has moved from tackle to end, so in the base front, that’s who we think our starters are.”
On if the transfer portal played a role in the quarterback announcement — “To answer the question on if it played a factor that one might transfer — no. They are both the kind of guys that don’t fold or quit at the slightest whiff of adversity.”
On if there’s a set timetable to decide a starting quarterback — “If it’s exactly how it is right now, it’ll be up to us as coaches to utilize both players for the best of the football team”