Jim Harbaugh and David Turnley discuss their book, "Enthusiasm Unknown to Mankind." Angelique S. Chengelis, Detroit News
Ann Arbor – For most of last year, David Turnley, the Pulitzer Prize-winning war photographer, was behind the scenes with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and his football team, documenting his first season.
Turnley, like Harbaugh, is a Michigan alum, and he has always loved football. Harbaugh gave him complete access to the program, and Turnley, an associate professor of documentary photography at Michigan, shot 70,000 images with his trusty old Leica.
Harbaugh and Turnley have co-authored “Enthusiasm Unknown to Mankind,” a coffee-table book that features more than 300 black-and-white photographs and also Harbaugh’s work as a writer. Harbaugh said he found writing a challenge and devoted a lengthy section to the “15 principles” on which the Michigan football program is built.
The collector’s edition (17 x 14) is $150, and the fanatic edition (12 x 9.5) is $75. All online orders (fosterpark.net) will be shipped later this month. The book will be available locally at the M Den at the end of the month, as well.
Harbaugh’s portion of the book as co-author will be used to help pay for a new weight room.
Turnley, who began shooting photographs of the football program beginning with spring practice, selected the cover photograph featuring the players and Harbaugh in the locker room, their hands on the shoulder of the person in front of them, because it represented team.
“The privilege of being in the locker room before the game, the middle of the game and after the game is really something,” Turnley said Friday at a news conference introducing the book. “It is a bonding (experience), it is incredibly special. Maybe the photograph speaks to it in a way I could never really do with words. But it’s profoundly special and very touching and something you don’t get to experience very often in life.
“The sense of community, the sense of family. You can’t overstate how special it is with this team and how important it is for the coach and his coaching staff. It was an image that spoke to that, I think. You take really strong warrior men and see them on their knees with their hands on each other’s shoulders together as a family. It’s a really touching moment.”
Harbaugh has several photographs he particularly likes, including one of the goal line stand at Minnesota and the final deflection at Indiana, both win-preserving plays, but one stands out.
It is a stark image of Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Tim Drevno, who sat alone on the bleachers after a practice, their frustration clear. Harbaugh’s head is in his left hand, and Drevno’s head is down and facing the opposite direction.
“It was early in training camp and we had had one of those kinds of practices,” Harbaugh said Friday, starting to smile at the memory. “I remember that distinctly like it was yesterday, (thinking), ‘We’re never going to win a game. We’ll be lucky if we win one game,’ and (Drevno) was saying the same thing. We couldn’t get stuff picked up, protected. Don’t let me climb the stairs of the Bell Tower, I might jump off.”
Turnley, who has been taking pictures since he was 17, has photographed wars and many of the world’s most celebrated individuals.
“I’ve shot Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali, General Norman Schwarzkopf, Obama, and you see the same – stars in the eyes with Coach Harbaugh,” Turnley said.
“Stop it,” Harbaugh said, chuckling. “Don’t put me on that dance floor.”
He did not use a long lens to take the photographs, instead opting to put himself as close to the action as possible.
“One of the things I’ve always been interested in as a photographer is you feel whatever it is you’re a part of, that you’re just not standing on the sideline observing from a place of safety,” Turnley said. “But you have to smell it, you have to touch it, you have to feel it. I’m always interested in the grit.”
Turnley, who graduated from Michigan in 1977, was on the UM football team for two weeks as a walk-on. He quickly realized he had to focus on school and that there was not future for him as a player.
In a sense, he said, this experience allowed him to fully understand the notion of team.
“I can’t really say enough how special this experience is for me on so many different levels that in an interesting way have brought my life in a kind of full circle,” he said. “And just really a special group of men, and Coach Harbaugh is an extraordinarily special person. It’s all pretty great.”