It was hard to miss where Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was at Big Ten Media Day.
Whether it was the enormous media scrums surrounding him or the show he put on in the morning with his Mike Ditka jersey or even the cameras on tripods waiting at his podium way before he even arrived, Harbaugh has reached celebrity status even without his signature khakis.
But when asked about all the attention he’s getting from everyone since coming back to Ann Arbor, Harbaugh put up his blinders.
“I hadn’t seen any circus surrounding this,” he said with a smile.
Harbaugh’s jump back into the collegiate ranks has been the buzz of the Big Ten this offseason. And that’s especially impressive considering the national champion Ohio State Buckeyes haven’t gone anywhere.
Some of his players have certainly noticed the effects of Harbaugh’s rock star fame.
“When he first took the job and was here in January, I didn’t know how much of a celebrity he really was as far as, like, he was on ‘Saved by the Bell’ and things like that,” senior linebacker James Ross III said. “Now knowing him, I can expect that, but in the beginning I didn’t really know and it kind of overwhelmed me a bit. But once I got used it to, I know that he does that but he’s not a guy who thrives on it. He doesn’t have to have that. He’s a funny guy so people want to talk to it, and I understand that.”
To most around the country, there seems to be a new energy and excitement at Schembechler Hall. But to senior linebacker Joe Bolden, nothing has changed about the Wolverines since Harbaugh’s arrival.
“It’s the same place,” Bolden said. “It’s Michigan. Nothing will ever change and make it anything less. We got a new coach. We got a little bit new feeling. But other than that, when it comes down to it, you play football on a football field. The dimensions of that football field don’t change whether it’s Coach Hoke, Coach Harbaugh, Coach Carr, Coach Schembechler. They don’t change. At the end of the day it’s football.”
[MEDIA DAY: Check out CSN's complete coverage of B1G media day]
One of Harbaugh’s best qualities that Wolverine players have been raving about is his honesty and transparency. Guys like senior wide receiver Jehu Chesson have admired the ability to have man-to-man conversations with their new coach about their spot on the team.
“If you go up to him for the truth and where you stand in the program, he’s going to give it to you,” Chesson said. “He’s not going to shy back because at Michigan there’s an expectation and you need to know where you stand day in and day out.”
Harbaugh has been through everything coaching football has to offer from the Super Bowl to the Orange Bowl. Presently, he isn't ready to slap any kind of predictions on the 2015 Wolverines, especially when he doesn't even know who his starting quarterback is going to be just yet. Yet there's something different about the start of this season for Harbaugh compared to any other before. Maybe it's the return home to Ann Arbor or the veteran team he's coaching but expect the vibrant coach to be bouncing along the sidelines this fall.
"I’m excited as I’ve ever been for the start of a season," Harbaugh said. "This goes back now to the time when I was nine years old. 1972, 1973 was my first time playing football and starting a season. I’m more excited than I’ve ever been."