Jim Harbaugh 'just striving to coach the football team'

ByDan Murphy ESPN logo
Friday, July 31, 2015

CHICAGO -- Michigancoach Jim Harbaugh said he doesn't want to be popular while speaking to a room full of reporters, many of whom were there to chronicle his return to the Big Ten.

Speaking at the conference's media day Friday morning, Harbaugh wasn't having much success.

Harbaugh has created a consistent swirl of media attention since returning to Michigan to coach his alma mater in December. In a conference with two top-five programs, three new head coaches and a defending national champion, Harbaugh has dominated the offseason headlines.

"I'm not striving to be creating any buzz, just striving to coach the football team," he said. "Anyone who is popular is bound to be disliked, so just coaching football."

Less than a minute later, the formerChicago Bearsquarterback pulled a Mike Ditka Bears jersey out from under the dais and said he'd be proud to wear it. Harbaugh visited Ditka's restaurant in Chicago on Thursday night to eat and catch up with his former coach. Harbaugh played for Ditka from 1987 until the elder coach was fired in 1992.

Harbaugh listed Ditka -- along with his father, Jack Harbaugh, former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler and formerOakland Raidersowner Al Davis -- as one of his greatest influences in football.

From his interactions with celebrities on Twitter to trips to Peru and Paris, Harbaugh has drawn plenty of attention for his actions away from the football field during his first seven months as Michigan's coach. The coach also created waves in June with a weeklong tour of satellite camps for high school prospects around the country, which drew the ire of many college football coaches from other conferences.

Harbaugh said apart from time with his family, those camps were the most fun he can remember having, but he again tried to downplay the commotion they caused around college football.

"I didn't know that we made waves actually. People made more of a big deal out of that than it was," he said. "Those days, those weeks, that's as much fun as I've had since I don't remember when."

Michigan and Harbaugh return to the football field Aug. 7 for training camp before he makes his debut as the Wolverines' coach on Sept. 3 at Utah.

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