The Wolverine

August 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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26 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2021 BY CLAYTON SAYFIE A look around at the word from local, national and even rival press after Har- baugh's appearance in In- dianapolis for Big Ten Media Days: BOB WOJNOWSKI THE DETROIT NEWS "JIM HARBAUGH IS WELL AWARE IT'S DO-OR-DIE TIME FOR THE WOLVERINES" Amid the football talk, Jim Har- baugh cheerfully volunteered a mountain-climbing story, which seemed appropriate. The Wolverines have been climbing and slipping, climbing and slipping, for much of his six seasons. You do it long enough without reaching the top, you might be inclined to surrender. Harbaugh has surrendered some things, including hubris and salary. He has altered his look — no omnipresent Block M cap at the podium at Big Ten Media Days. He completely altered his coaching staff, adding six new as- sistants. In some ways, Harbaugh has bowed to decorum, and with all the changes, admitted to faults. But don't misread it. He's still com- mitted to climbing, and invigorated to try again. He stood Thursday on the Lucas Oil Stadium field in Indianapo- lis, the figurative mountaintop, site of the Big Ten championship game, a place the Wolverines have never reached. If anyone expected a de- feated or defiant Harbaugh, not there. He was upbeat and engaging as he spoke to the assembled media, a posi- tive demeanor that doesn't guarantee success, but is far from surrender. "I'm here before you as enthusiastic and excited as I ever am, even more, to have at it, to win the championship, beat Ohio and our rival Michigan State, everybody," Harbaugh said. "That's what we want to do. And we're going to do it or die trying." This sounds like one more shot, all the chips pushed in. Adapt or die, right? AUSTIN MEEK THE ATHLETIC "JIM HARBAUGH, MICHIGAN AREN'T TURNING BACK DESPITE BEING CLOSER TO ROCK BOTTOM THAN THE MOUNTAINTOP" If you're grasping for optimism, here's one way to look at it: By bot- toming out in 2020, the Wolver- ines had no choice but to make the hard changes that might have been avoided with a more respectable fin- ish. Harbaugh fired defensive coor- dinator Don Brown, whose defenses were exposed the two previous years by Ohio State. Harbaugh's coaching staff got considerably younger, and Michigan's recruiting operation got a needed makeover. It's hard to say if any of that will work, but it's true beyond a doubt that the Wolverines weren't going to succeed by doing the same things they've done in the past. Of course, they still have the same person at the top. Harbaugh's return came with a fair dose of skepticism about his chances of pulling off a mid-career renaissance. True to char- acter, Harbaugh interprets the hot- seat chatter as a personal test of will. "It's almost like World War II pro- paganda machines: 'Stop. Quit. No INTRIGUED The Media Is Waiting To See The Impact Of Jim Harbaugh's Changes "Maybe we're the Rocky Balboa of college football … beat up and angry," Harbaugh said of his Wolverines at Big Ten Media Days in late July. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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