Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh talks to campers at Grand Valley about doing the right thing, relationships, and giving your best effort. Angelique S. Chengelis, Detroit News
Allendale — Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer shared a field on Sunday, five months before they will coach against each other in Ohio Stadium in the annual rendition of The Game.
Harbaugh was the final speaker at the Best of the Midwest Camp at Grand Valley State, following Meyer.
The camp was attended by a number of coaching staffs. Eastern Michigan coach Chris Creighton, Central Michigan coach John Bonamego and Western Michigan’s Tim Lester also spoke to the campers.
With Harbaugh watching, Meyer spoke to the players about what he looks for — players who are good teammates and those who can play big in the “big one.”
"We're very fortunate at Ohio State," Meyer said to open his remarks. “The last six years, really, we've had more players drafted in the country. I've been around and been able to coach Zeke Elliotts to Bosas to J.T. Barretts, etc. etc. We go out and recruit the best kids in the country."
Meyer repeatedly stressed the importance of playing their top football in big games. The Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is often referred to as “The Game” and a book about the game is called “The Big One.”
Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, speaking at the Grand Valley camp, describes the most important traits in a football player. Angelique S. Chengelis, Detroit News
The Buckeyes have won six straight against Michigan and 13 of the last 14.
“I have no desire to watch a game when you beat the hell out of someone 40-0," Meyer said. "I quit watching. I don't want to see that. I want to see you in a rivalry game. I want to see you on fourth down, when you perform on fourth down when the team needs you.”
Harbaugh used his time to tell the campers to always listen to their coaches and play hard. He used an Adam and Eve analogy to caution them to avoid temptations like drugs.
After his remarks, Harbaugh met with a group of reporters and covered a wide-range of topics. He was referred back to comments made last month by Michigan Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson, who in 1997 helped lead the Wolverines to an unbeaten season and national title.
Woodson said that he has been disappointed with how it appears Michigan has approached the Ohio State game.
“To be quite honest I really feel like over the years, in recent years, there hasn’t been the emphasis that I’m used to being put on that game,” Woodson said.
“Every game has been put on the same level of that game and that’s not the way we were brought up, that’s not the way we were raised around here. And we had no shame in saying it.”
Woodson spoke to Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s team before the Ohio State game last year, and said his message was received although the Buckeyes went on to win again.
“They got it. They got it,” Woodson said. “The time is now. We ain’t waiting no more.”
He does not like the approach that all games are equal for Michigan.
“It feels like every time I’m watching our teams in the recent years, it’s, ‘Aw, you know, it’s another game,’” Woodson said. “Nah, it’s not, and it should never be that way to any of the players who come in here. That’s really my message to the guys, the freshmen who will come in to the guys who have already been here and been a part of the game — that is the game. We would love to win them all, but we’ve got to have that one. That’s what it is.”
Wolverines coach says annual rivalry game with Buckeyes has been "emphasized." Angelique S. Chengelis
Harbaugh was asked if he was aware of Woodson’s remarks.
“It's been emphasized," Harbaugh said.
He was then asked if he took exception to the comments.
“It’s been emphasized,” he said.
Harbaugh then returned to the subject to make a final comment.
“And that’s coming from somebody who’s been there for every single day,” he said.