CHICAGO — The other Big Ten football coaches wore suits. Jim Harbaugh, the last of the 14 coaches to speak at the conference’s media days, wore a Michigan ball cap and his favored khakis.
Harbaugh marches to the beat of his own drummer, and Tuesday was no different. He zigs while others zag.
Take his response to a question about incumbent quarterback Wilton Speight.
“Wilton's in a good spot,” Harbaugh said.
But then instead of adding that Speight has strengthened his hold on the job, Harbaugh did the opposite.
“He comes in really tied for first with John O'Korn and Brandon Peters,” he said. “Legitimately, through competition, throughout all the spring, (we) went through 15 practices and was a dead heat. But the good news is they all did some things that really -- Brandon really shot up. John O'Korn really played consistently good. And Wilton really had some impressive moments as well.”
Harbaugh said the quarterback battle will probably last for eight to 15 practices of preseason camp, which starts Monday.
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Harbaugh also took an unconventional tack when asked about the overtime loss to Ohio State last year. In his postgame press conference, Harbaugh said he was bitter about the fourth-down spot on J.T. Barrett’s keeper that preceded the Buckeyes’ game-winning touchdown.
On Tuesday, he spoke as if it were a blessing.
“Now it’s good,” he said. “I’m glad that happened. Hopefully, that’ll motivate us to be better next year. We’re going to use that to come to an understanding that we have to put more into this.
We have to put more of more of our talent, more of our effort, more of our heart into coaching these guys, and the guys that are playing need to do the same thing.”
Asked if he’d done anything fun in Chicago, Harbaugh treated that like a four-letter word.
“I’m avoiding all fun stuff — concentrating on preparing ourselves for the season,” he said. “We lost three of our last four games last year, two by one point and the other in overtime. Didn’t like that feeling.”
Michigan returns only five starters (including Speight), the fewest in the country. But Harbaugh has recruited well. He dismissed the notion that the 2017 Wolverines are flying under the radar.
“I don’t know that we are,” he said. “I don’t know that it matters. It’s irrelevant. I don’t think we are. We’re just going to work on Monday with the license and the ability to be good and be tough to beat.”