CHICAGO — Jim Harbaugh is well aware of his 1-5 record as Michigan coach vs. the Wolverines’ top two rivals, Ohio State (0-3) and Michigan State (1-2), and that his team has not finished higher than third in the Big Ten East in his first three years.
As for the secret to flipping that in his fourth year, he had a straightforward response Monday.
“We feel like we need to improve and that will lead to success, will lead to championships,” said Harbaugh, his team coming off an 8-5 (5-4 in Big Ten) season last year. “That simple.”
>> Video: Jim Harbaugh looks forward, not back
He was the last of the first seven coaches to appear in the formal interview session of the annual Big Ten media days here Monday afternoon, with Ohio State coach Urban Meyer of the league-favorite Buckeyes headlining the other seven to come Tuesday.
Harbaugh hit the same notes when later asked in a different way what he was going to do about that record against his rivals.
“The improvement will lead to success will lead to championships,” he reiterated.
Whether quarterback Shea Patterson, an undergraduate transfer from Ole Miss who has been granted immediate playing eligibility with the Wolverines, will be a major part of the possible improvement this season, he wouldn’t say. Though most media and fans expect Patterson to be the starter over Brandon Peters and others, Harbaugh has not.
“I don’t have any announcement to make about that,” Harbaugh said.
But he did say he has been impressed by the “collaboration” of his revamped offensive staff which feature three new coaches. They include line coach Ed Warinner, hired away from Minnesota where he spent last season after moving there following four seasons under Meyer at Ohio State where he was line coach to begin with and then offensive coordinator.
Warinner brings a “wealth of knowledge” to the group, Harbaugh said, adding, “He’s a good dude, really good to work with ... I enjoy watching tape with him, talking football with him."
Meanwhile, with wagering on college football about to become a nationwide right in the wake of a recent Supreme Court ruling, Harbaugh said he, like other coaches, is cautioning his players to be wary of those seeking inside information and the like.
“Don’t’ walk away — run!” he said.
Yet an offshoot of the new situation could be mandatory injury reports from teams, something Harbaugh dealt with routinely as head coach of the NFL San Francsico 49ers in his previous job.
"I'd be fine with that,” he said.
And like first-year Nebraska coach Scott Frost said earlier in the day, he also would be fine with seeing the College Football Playoff, headed into its fifth year, expand past four teams.
“Let’s go to eight, and eventually get to 16,” Haubaugh said.