INDIANAPOLIS – Jim Harbaugh, eschewing his typical khakis in favor of a blue suit, strolled up to the podium at Big Ten Media Days on Thursday afternoon and began talking to the assorted reporters in attendance with his typical positivity.
“I know I'm here to have a really good day,” he said inside the cavernous Lucas Oil Stadium.
And then 15 minutes later, just before leaving the podium, Harbaugh decided to up the ante a bit in response to the final question.
The Michigan head coach, fresh off agreeing to a contract extension and reworking his coaching staff earlier this year, was asked about not yet being able to beat Ohio State, failing to win a Big Ten championship thus far and whether the new coaches helped rejuvenate him.
“I'm as enthusiastic and excited as I ever am, always am, even more to have at it, to win the championship, to beat Ohio, our rivals Michigan State, everybody. That's what we want to do. And we're going to do it or die trying.”– Jim Harbaugh
“Well, I'm here before you,” Harbaugh said. “I'm as enthusiastic and excited as I ever am, always am, even more to have at it, to win the championship, to beat Ohio, our rivals Michigan State, everybody. That's what we want to do.
“And we're going to do it or die trying.”
Harbaugh, since Michigan lured him back to Ann Arbor by making him one of college football’s highest-paid coaches, has coached against Ohio State five times and lost all five of those games by a combined score of 221-126. Thus, he has never coached in the Big Ten championship game. His Wolverine teams have gone 3-3 versus in-state rival Michigan State, too, including a shocking loss to the Spartans last fall in Year 1 of Mel Tucker’s tenure.
Nevertheless, Harbaugh goes on, seemingly undeterred.
“My daughter this summer, we were climbing, Sarah, Addi and I were going up this mountain,” Harbaugh said. “It was like a mountain climb. I don't know how high it was. It was pretty high. We probably did 15,000 steps to get up there. She was counting it on her phone. We were getting up close to the top and she said, 'We've got to apex, Dad. We're got to get to the top.' You're darn right we do. We've got to get there. That's what we've got to do. We've got to apex this and we've got to get to the top. She's got that gene in her, and I was darn glad to see it.
“I can tell you I've got that gene in me, and some of the guys we've talked about here already – Aidan Hutchison, Hassan (Haskins), Josh Ross and a lot of others – we've got that gene in us. We've got to get to the top.”