Michigan Football: Key takeaways from Big Ten Media days

Jim Harbaugh and Michigan football players spoke at Big Ten Media Days and here are some key takeaways. 

It’s always noteworthy when Michigan football head coach Jim Harbaugh takes the stage to meet with reporters and he did so Thursday at Big Ten Media Days.

Harbaugh spoke for 15 minutes and took five questions on topics that varied from his starting quarterback to what his program needs to do to beat Ohio State.

Overall, Harbaugh didn’t say anything unexpected but he and some of the Michigan football players in attendance offered some interesting nuggets especially about the Buckeyes.

A greater emphasis on Ohio State

The most quotable statement from Harbaugh came when he was asked about beating Ohio State and said that Michigan football was going to do it or die trying.

He also talked about winning the Big Ten championship and beating Michigan State. He said all the right things but did we expect anything different?

However, it’s clear from what Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Ross said at the podium that the Wolverines are treating this rivalry differently.

Mike Hart and Ron Bellamy — two former Wolverines — joined the staff and while there weren’t a lot of specifics, it’s clear that Michigan football is making “The Game” an even bigger priority.

New assistants get strong reviews

Jim Harbaugh talked glowingly about his assistant coaches when asked about them. Mike Macdonald was arguably the most important hire he made, entrusting the former Ravens assistant to run the defense, something he said was made easier thanks to his brother John.

Hutchinson also said good things about Macdonald, telling reporters that the defense would be less predictable and that also, Macdonald has helped address the culture.

Outside of bringing in more elite talent, having an elite coaching staff is the next-best way to close the gap on Ohio State and if Harbaugh hit on these hires — Macdonald specifically — it could really help turn things around.

The quarterback situation

As far as the QB battle, Harbaugh didn’t say anything new on Thursday. Cade McNamara was the No. 1 quarterback throughout the spring and Jim said he would be the No. 1 entering camp.

Harbaugh also said Alan Bowman and J.J. McCarthy were battling for the job, although he mentioned McCarthy much earlier than Bowman.

Bowman has been projected by a few national experts to win the job and Harbaugh did talk up his experience Thursday, which is why I liked his addition so much. It at least gives the Wolverines someone who has a bunch of starts under his belt instead of the one that McNamara has.

McNamara has a rep as being a gamer and it’s my belief that he will start the opener. But McCarthy is the future. He needs to play this season and even if he doesn’t start right away unless McNamara is better than expected, it seems like only a matter of time.