Jay Harbaugh eager for first game at Big House

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — While the focus is on Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh coaching his alma mater for the first time at Michigan Stadium on Saturday against Oregon State, his son, Jay, also will mark a first.

"I've never been to a game at Michigan, which surprises everybody," Jay Harbaugh, Michigan's tight ends coach, said Wednesday before practice.

He said he's looking forward to walking out of the tunnel and onto the field for the home opener and taking in the Big House.

"I'm really excited for it," Harbaugh said. "I tell all these recruits about it, and I haven't even experienced it. It's one of a kind from what I hear and I'm really excited to experience it first-hand."

Jim Harbaugh shied away this week from answering questions regarding the emotions he might feel leading the team onto the field where he once played. Jay Harbaugh said preparing the players has been the only concern of the head coach and his staff.

"There's a time and a place for nostalgia," Jay Harbaugh said. "When you're in the thick of it week to week you don't think about that stuff. I don't know if that's hard to believe, but it really is true. I don't find myself thinking about it. If you ask me if I'm excited, I'm excited about it, but it's not the kind of thing where you're, 'Man, I can't wait to get in there in the Big House.' Just really want to play well."

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Greg Jackson, Michigan's secondary coach, downplayed coaching in the stadium for the first time, but said it is a special venue for players.

"This is one place I wish I would have played," Jackson said. "It's exciting for the young guys to see 110,000 people come into the stadium."

There was considerable hype heading into Jim Harbaugh's first game as Michigan coach last Thursday at Utah, and there is still plenty of interest as he approaches his first game at Michigan.

Jay Harbaugh said he hasn't been at all surprised how his father dominated headlines locally and nationally the last nine months.

"I guess because I'm somewhat used to it and could see it coming," he said. "I guess it's kind of funny at times, kind of annoying at times. If you expect it, it is what it is. It doesn't get on my nerves. Other teams, it probably irritates them. Utah was clearly irritated by it from what I heard people saying, which I get."

Giving recruiting a jolt?

With Michigan moving to Nike next year and the football uniforms including the Jordan Brand "jumpman" log, Jay Harbaugh, well-versed in the Wolverines' recruiting, said it's been a positive in terms of recruiting efforts.

Michigan is wearing adidas this season, fulfilling the contract.

"I'd say that's true," he said. "There's a lot of guys who like adidas, too. Any direction you go, you're going to make some people really happy and other guys will be disappointed. We've gotten some good feedback."

That includes regarding the Jordan jumpman basketball log.

"Some people are thrilled about that, some guys just don't care, which is interesting, but overall it's been pretty good feedback," Harbaugh said.

Using the move to Nike hasn't been the big focus when he's recruiting, though.

"If it's something that appeals to somebody you might," Harbaugh said. "You cover everything (in recruiting). It's not the thing you want to press right way. If you think big picture about Michigan and what we have to offer, it's a nice icing on the cake at a place like this. At some places (the apparel brand) might be the big sell. I think that says a lot about what we have to offer at the university."

ESPN in Ann Arbor

While ESPN's GameDay will be up the road from Ann Arbor in East Lansing for Michigan State-Oregon, the network's "SportsCenter on the Road" will preview Harbaugh's first game as Michigan head coach with a two-hour show Saturday. The hosts are Matt Barrie and Sara Walsh and will originate from the campus beginning at 7 a.m.