Orlando, Fla. – A question was posed to Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and Alabama coach Nick Saban on Tuesday at a joint Citrus Bowl news conference.
Harbaugh and Saban were asked: If they had the opportunity, what would each coach ask the other other about coaching philosophy or career.
The two men, among the most recognizable figures in college football, looked at each other and smiled.
“That would be a real treat,” Harbaugh said. “There's really nobody better. Tremendous respect for Coach Saban.”
Saban then spoke of the mentors he’s had during his coaching career, including former Michigan State coach George Perles, for whom he worked as an assistant.
“But I've always had a tremendous respect for Jim and his family as coaches,” Saban said of the Harbaugh coaches that include his father Jack, brother John, and brother-in-law Tom Crean. “You know, his dad Jack kind of came up with me. I was a little younger. He was one of the most respected secondary coaches. That's what I coached. I used to try to visit with him as much as I could and had a tremendous amount of respect for him.
"Tom Crean was an assistant basketball coach at Michigan State for Tom Izzo. So we've had a tremendous amount of respect for the whole family as coaches and Jim has obviously had a fabulous career in the NFL as well as college.”
And with that, he turned the conversation back to the Michigan coach.
“I never, ever stop trying to learn, and I would certainly cherish and have tremendous gratitude for the opportunity to be able to sit down with Jim and talk to him about how he does things and how that can improve our organization,” Saban said.
Partridge an Ole Miss candidate?
Chris Partridge, Michigan’s safeties coach and special teams coordinator, reportedly has caught the eye of new Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin. ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren reported that Kiffin wants to hire Partridge as defensive coordinator.
This is not the first time Partridge has generated interest from an SEC school. Alabama offered him a job coaching linebackers, but he turned that down in January 2018.
Partridge, 39, who has long been considered a top recruiter, was head coach at Paramus Catholic in New Jersey before Harbaugh hired him as director of player personnel in 2015. By the 2016 season, he was coaching linebackers and special teams.
Partridge got a salary bump to $500,000 from Michigan after the Alabama interest. He said it was “easy” for him to stay at Michigan.
“It would have been harder to leave no matter what the job was,” Partridge said in April 2018. “I appreciate Jim. I’ve got to be loyal to him. He gave me a shot. Not a lot of people would have gave a high school coach a shot.”
The difference this time, however, is the potential to coordinate a defense in the SEC.
MICHIGAN VS. ALABAMA
Kickoff: Wednesday, 1 p.m. Camping World Stadium, Orlando
TV/radio: ABC/950 AM
Records: Michigan 9-3, Alabama 10-2
Line: Alabama by 7