Day vs. Harbaugh: Off the Field Differences Abound As Rival Coaches Prepare for First Clash

By David Wertheim on August 4, 2019 at 7:45 am

Jim Harbaugh has been known for, uh, some quirky off the field incidents and customs during his time as the head coach at Michigan.

He slept over at a kicker's house during recruiting in order to land him. Said kicker, Quinn Nordin, did end up committing to Michigan, although he was benched as the starter last season after struggling. 

Harbaugh is also known for his well-publicized affair with Walmart slacks, and has said some pretty funny things in interviews after tough losses.

Recently, Harbaugh has been in the news once again for a negative reason (as most view it). After offensive lineman James Hudson transferred from Michigan to Cincinnati, Harbaugh blasted the move and mental health issues overall, saying that there is no way to tell whether players are faking it just so they can transfer to new schools and potentially be eligible to play right away.

Unfortunately for Hudson, the NCAA denied his waiver request and he will have to sit out the mandatory season. He will be eligible to play in 2020. 

This is a stark contrast from Day's position on mental health issues. Day's father committed suicide when Day was young, so it makes sense that he would be very passionate about these types of issues. In fact, Day and his wife have been very involved in the cause, creating the Ryan and Christina Day Fund for Pediatric and Adolescent Mental Health Awareness.  

The difference is striking, and there are multiple ways to look at it: one, it will make an impact on the recruiting trail away from the field: Ohio State's class is well ahead of Michigan's in the 2020 cycle, and the Buckeyes are looking to keep up the momentum that led them to seven straight victories over the Wolverines under Urban Meyer.

Day has kept the Michigan hatred strong off the field as well, despite having no direct Ohio ties unlike most previous Ohio State coaches. He has instilled strong hate in the rivalry, and most of the year-long preparation traditions have continued despite the (partially) new regime. 

Harbaugh, of course, still has work to do despite Meyer's departure. Day's offense hung 62 points on the at-times vaunted Michigan defense a year ago, and has re-tooled with major weapons all across the field and a shift in defensive philosophy accompanied by a mostly new coaching staff.

With Day's charm off the field evident through his (mostly) extremely successful recruiting results thus far, it appears that Harbaugh's competition has not decreased one bit despite the departure of a legendary coach. There will still be comparisons all the time, but now they will be different: instead of two of the premier coaches in the game facing off once each fall, for the first few years of Day's reign in Columbus, it will be the hotshot up-and-comer against the wily veteran both on and off the field.

It should be thrilling to watch. 

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