Jim Harbaugh walked out of an interview. CBS Sports’ Jim Rome laid into him on radio for it, asserting he is as miserable as he was in San Francisco and suggesting his honeymoon probably wouldn’t last in Ann Arbor.
“If anybody thought this was going to be a kinder, gentler Harbaugh since he went home to Ann Arbor to rescue the football program, make no mistake, it’s the same exact guy,” Rome said. “Nothing’s changed. Same guy. Same insanely intense dude that got run from Frisco, because he was miserable. He runs way too hot and he was wearing people out. Don’t get it twisted now. Great coach. Unbelievable coach. I’m sure he’ll do a great job there. But when you have a coach who wins as he wins and nobody is ever sorry to see him leave, that tells you a little something about that guy.”
Harbaugh is, indeed, miserable with the media. Media members found him among the worst coaches to work with, along with Nick Saban, James Franklin, and Bobby Petrino. It’s unfortunate. It also doesn’t matter, at all.
Paul Finebaum termed Harbaugh the “Donald Trump” of College Football for the way he has dominated the news cycle. But, here’s the thing, Trump has to give interviews to get attention. Harbaugh doesn’t. He has resurrected Michigan’s football brand with “enthusiasm unknown to mankind” and a Twitter account.
Harbaugh has spent two years playing the pied piper and dropping the occasional crumb on social media. Every media member is talking about him. Every major college football coach is answering questions about him. He’s been forced to reveal nothing. He doesn’t demand media members go along with it. He knows they will.
Everyone is talking about Michigan. Harbaugh has kept everyone’s attention deflected away from Michigan’s quarterback battle, from Jabrill Peppers being poised for a breakout year, and from Rashan Gary arriving on campus as the No. 1 overall recruit.
Harbaugh has been “handling” the media, masterfully, since he arrived in Ann Arbor. The implication is that “the media” are going to turn on Harbaugh and somehow this fact will have some grave karmic implications for him. Spoiler: it won’t.
Harbaugh making Michigan great again is tremendous for college football. The boring, irrelevant Big Ten tripled its first-tier rights revenue. Michigan went from sad, outmoded wreck to Jordan brand spearhead. He has been phenomenal for national media, who need college football to be interesting and competitive. He has been phenomenal for local media, who thrive when people are excited about Michigan football.
Jim Harbaugh does not need the media. The media needs him. He has known it all along. Like Nick Saban or Bill Belichick, Harbaugh doesn’t bother with pretenses. Like Alabama or New England fans, Michigan fans do not care.