New AD Manuel is fine with Harbaugh’s creativity

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Dayton, Ohio — New Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel has no complaints.

Football coach Jim Harbaugh and his unorthodox methods — sleepovers, shirtless football, spring practice in Florida — are A-OK with Manuel.

“I mean, I love it,” Manuel said Wednesday night, before Michigan’s NCAA Tournament game against Tulsa — whose athletic director is Derrick Gragg, the former Eastern Michigan AD and a good friend of Manuel’s.

“I love it. Jim’s perspective and his passion and his energy that he brings to the team and to college football. And, so, for me, there’s nothing that Jim has done that causes me any concern.”

The latest Harbaugh headlines have dealt with his decision to take the football team to Bradenton, Florida, for spring break.

The SEC commissioner voiced concern, followed by the ACC commissioner. And the NCAA president didn’t like it, either.

Too bad, Harbaugh has said over and over again.

Manuel envisions broad success at UM, basketball included

“I think he’s thinking about things, he’s bringing a passion and a set of ideas to the table that are good for us,” said Manuel, who came from Connecticut and officially started at Michigan on Monday.

“And based on what I’ve heard in the media, it sounds like some other people think it’s gonna be good for them.”

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio called the trip “creative,” and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said he would consider doing the same with Ohio State, so long as the rules don’t change.

Speaking of creative, that’s the word that best describes Harbaugh, Manuel said.

Asked if he’s met a coach as creative as Harbaugh, Manuel said, “I don’t think anybody has, have they? He’s probably one of the most creative coaches I’ve seen, in terms of thinking about things and bringing new ideas to fruition.

“There’s a lot of creative people in this business, but I think Jim and how he thinks about football and coaching and what our program has, he’s bringing new thoughts to the table. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Harbaugh, who was 10-3 with a bowl win in his first season as Michigan coach, may be about to sign a new contract that includes deferred compensation.

Interim athletic director Jim Hackett did the bulk of the work on the new deal, and Manuel expects it to become official in “the next two weeks.”