Excerpts from Jim Harbaugh’s press conference at Big Ten Media Days on Monday:
Question: I think you would agree that one of the great things about football is the continuous change, the continuous evolution each year, each game. With that said, this is a new year, a new Michigan football team. When you wake up in the morning and go to work, what gets you excited about the 2018 version of your Michigan Wolverines?
Jim Harbaugh: First of all, what gets me the most excited is having a season to gear up for. And that's pretty consistent with most of the people I talked to, whether it's high school players, coaches, college players, coaches, pro players. It's very exciting at this point and thankful to have a season to gear up for. I've also talked to some other players or coaches that don't have a season to gear up for this year. And it's sad. But also feel very good that I have a season to gear up for. So chomping at the bit, ready to go.
Q: A lot of turnover I guess in the offensive coaching. You've had Jedd (Fisch) in there, Ed Warinner this year, (Greg) Frey, run game coordinators, tight end coordinators. How close are you guys continuity-wise to really nailing down the offensive side, the defensive side? How close are you to just nailing down the offensive side coaching-wise?
Harbaugh: Great collaboration. I think that's what we were striving for with our offensive coaching staff and great additions. Jim McElwain has been a great addition. Ed Warinner has been a great addition. Sherrone Moore has been a great addition. Jay Harbaugh back is doing a very good job. Pep Hamilton doing a great job. We feel like we've got a lot of good football minds, guys that are passionate about ball, and also collaborating and working very well together.
Q: I've been asking other Big Ten coaches about their overall thoughts on the effectiveness of the playoff system. Now that we've had four years to sort of digest this, just what are your thoughts on just the effectiveness that you've seen?
Harbaugh: I guess the first thing that comes to mind is more would be more. More would be better in the playoffs. Four right now, go to eight and eventually get to 16.
Q: Michigan hasn't beaten Ohio State in six seasons. How much do you hear about that, and how much pressure do you feel to change that this year?
Harbaugh: We need to improve. And that will lead to success. It will lead to championships. It's that simple.
Q: You came into Ann Arbor with perhaps the most hype of any coach in the history of the Big Ten. Maybe in all of college football. A few years later you've got a third place, a third place and fourth place finish. And you're 1-5 against Michigan State and Ohio State. What do you have to do this year to demonstrate to the Michigan community that you are on the path to achieving what they hired you to achieve?
Harbaugh: The improvement will lead to success, will lead to championships.
Q: What has Ed Warinner specifically brought to the program from your vantage point? And another question I'd like to ask, from a quarterback situation, is that an open book right now for you? Is Shea Patterson a leader as some people seem to assume? Where do you stand in that situation?
Harbaugh: Ed has done a tremendous job. He's really brought a lot of enthusiasm, wealth of knowledge, tremendous experience with coaching in the Big Ten, and just a good dude. Really was good to work with. Has been fantastic. We enjoy watching tape with him. Enjoy talking football with him. Enjoy watching him coach, and I think that's been a really good thing for us. Quarterbacks position, don't have any announcements to make today about that.
Q: Any concerns with if you went to eight- or 16-team playoff, it would water down the regular season? And is there a limit to how many games college football players should play in one season?
Harbaugh: Well, I mean, the I-AA teams have been very successful at that model. I think, if my math is right, right now, if you play all the way through to a championship game, that would be 15 games. And through a 16-team playoff, that would be 16 games, right, under the current model. Probably take away the championship, the league championship game. It would eliminate that one, and then so it could be 16 games. But only the two teams playing in the national championship would play that many games. That's kind of my thought about the amount of games you would play. Most teams would still play 13.
Q: I was talking to Brady Quinn a little bit ago. He thinks the quarterback Shea Patterson could become one of the pure passers in college football. I know there's a meritocracy, there's a competition that needs to unfold in August, you got Dylan McCaffrey, Joe Milton, some other guys. Just curious what that quarterback room's like and what you're thinking of it as we sit here in July.
Harbaugh: So it's very valuable. Shea Patterson went through all of spring practice with our team and got great work in there. Played really well. Brandon Peters was also improved this spring. Dylan McCaffrey probably made the most improvement of any quarterback. And on our roster Joe Milton came in and was a mid-year, so participated in spring practices as well and did very well. I think he's got a very bright future.
Q: Your thoughts on with Karan Higdon being on the Doak Walker Watch List? What are your thoughts not only on Karan's improvement but the overall complexion of running backs in the Big Ten?
Harbaugh: Always been a great tradition of great running backs in the Big Ten. Always has and probably always will be. Karan Higdon is an outstanding football player. I always think of Karan and Chris Evans. They're both great. They're both really good players and that bodes really well for our football team. Both have really come into leadership roles on our team is the way it's developed over the last nine months. And that's also a really good team thing because they've embraced those roles. It's important to them and it's important to each of them how they play but it's also you see them working with the younger backs. And we've got some talented younger backs. And it's nice to see that those guys, Chris Evans in particular, grabs guys, goes over pass protections with them, always see Karan putting his arm around a younger back or player and talking to them, motivating them, teaching them. So can't say enough good things about Karan Higdon or Chris Evans.
Q: For the injury report, you've obviously dealt with that at the pro level, which not a lot of college coaches have dealt with.
Harbaugh: Yeah, I would be fine with that. Want to do an injury report, we can do an injury report.