Harbaugh dreams of ‘spectacular’ project with Brady brand

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Jim Harbaugh greets Tom Brady at the "Signing of the Stars" event in Ann Arbor.

In the afterglow of a successful football Signing Day, during which Michigan signed Rashan Gary, the nation’s No 1 prospect, while earning the fifth-ranked class nationally, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh shared that he is at “peace” because of his current situation in Ann Arbor.

Harbaugh, who finished his first year coaching his alma mater with a 10-3 record, has said that 2015 was his favorite season in coaching.

During an appearance Wednesday night on the “Huge Show,” a statewide syndicated radio show, host Bill Simonson asked Harbaugh if he sees himself coaching anywhere except Michigan.

“No, and I’m happy and productive and I think the thing that gives you that peace, it’s not about me, it’s not about even our family, even though that’s a great responsibility to have to my own family,” Harbaugh said on the show.

“You feel good that you’re bringing these youngsters into an incredible opportunity -- and that’s all we can guarantee, really, is an incredible opportunity -- at an incredible university where they can come and have four years of higher education and do it in a healthy, productive manner where they’re going to have help. None of us have done anything on our own, including being born. There’s no place I’ve ever been around that supports and encourages like the University of Michigan does. I feel good about it. I’m at peace.”

Harbaugh feels very confident with the class he and his staff signed Wednesday.

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“My head’s going to hit the pillow tonight feeling like we are better than we were yesterday,” Harbaugh said, adding he won’t take a day off. “(I’m going to) try to figure out a good plan to see how we can be better tomorrow than we were today.”

Harbaugh touched on several other topics during his “Huge Show” interview:

The “Signing of the Stars” event at Hill Auditorium to benefit the ChadTough Foundation, with a number of celebrities, including Tom Brady and Derek Jeter, was a success, he said: “It felt great. Some people want to criticize that, marginalize it, diminish it. It wasn’t over the top. It was connecting with people, and that’s a good thing no matter what anybody says. If that offends people, then so be it. It was one of my best days of my life. I had more fun today than I can remember in a long, long time.”

He said Rashan Gary’s work ethic is impressive:  “When he was here on his last visit (last month). … He was headed back to New Jersey and they had to start finals. He went into a room and for three hours he studied. He wasn’t up, down out of his seat, going to get snacks or drinking Diet Cokes. He was studying for three solid hours because he knew he had those finals. That was really impressive to me. You look at his 3.7 grade point average, he works for things, he wants to excel. He wants to be the best in the classroom and he wants to excel at sports, and with that kind of work ethic …”

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Harbaugh spoke generally to reporters Wednesday about Michigan’s upcoming spring practice trip to Florida but offered more details on the radio show: “We booked flights. (We’re going to) fly our team commercial. We’re saving a lot of money going commercial. Will fly down there the last Sunday in February and will start our first practice at IMG Academy  Monday, practice Tuesday, day off Wednesday, and practices Thursday and Friday. Players will be off Wednesday and Saturday. I like it on a lot of levels. No. 1, everybody gets a spring break. Not everybody can afford a spring break, but this is an opportunity where everybody is going to have a spring break. The second thing is by having the practices over our spring break, when finals come, two solid weeks of finals they won’t have any football activities. There’s some trouble that can be had on spring breaks, the normal college way of going on spring breaks. So I look forward to not having those issues and putting our guys (away from) temptation that some spring breaks can have. We’ll have clean healthy fun.”

He mentioned he and Tom Brady might collaborate on a big project: “I had great conversation with Tom Brady before the (Signing Day) event, and he was talking about ways that he could share the knowledge that he has in terms of working. He said a really profound thing: ‘I love playing football, and I love working to be able to play football.’ And then I just started asking, ‘How do you do it? What do you do?’ And we’re talking about some big ideas that can be incorporated here at Schembechler Hall and the University of Michigan. That’s the next big one. I’d love to have a TB12 elite sports performance right here in Ann Arbor and have Derek Jeter involved, have Nike involved, Charles Woodson involved, Michael Jordan involved. It would be a spectacular thing.”

(Brady and his “body coach” developed the TB12 method to develop and sustain peak performance. According to the website, TB12’s focus is on “introducing our method and philosophy to active individuals and on making athletes better through a shared commitment to sustaining peak performance.”)