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December 28, 2017

Jim Harbaugh

St. Petersburg, Florida

JIM HARBAUGH: Nice to see everybody. Thanks for coming.

Q. Since the College Football Playoffs began, a large number of the media members have suggested that all of the bowl games are meaningless. I feel those people have forgotten that this is a reward for a successful season. Where are you on that opinion of non College Football Playoff bowl games and why?
JIM HARBAUGH: Can you restate that question?

Q. Where are you on the bowl games and their importance if they're not a playoff game?
JIM HARBAUGH: I'm for the bowls. I'm for postseason play. I don't think bowl games are meaningless, and I would like to see an expanded playoff to 16 teams.

Q. How much of an impact has Mason Cole made on this program here?
JIM HARBAUGH: Huge impact. He's started 50 plus games. Every game he's been here, captain, been a great player. Started out as a freshman, played left tackle and played left tackle as a sophomore, then played center as a junior, now back to left tackle. He's a fantastic guy, great player, Go Blue guy all the way, and great guy to coach. He'll be a great pro. He'll play for a long time, play at a very high level in the NFL. Looking forward to watching that. Mason Coles, they don't come around that often. It's great when they do, and he's been great for Michigan.

Q. What is your impression of Will Muschamp and a Will Muschamp team?
JIM HARBAUGH: Very impressed. The first thing that sticks out at me is when you watch the tape, the length and athleticism of the team, just length. Long arms, tall, athletic players, and they play athletic. They play fast. Next thing is defensively they really run to the football. They pursue the football. Tough schemes, multiple schemes. They'll play a four down front, they'll play a three down front. Linebackers in multiple gaps in their alignment. Defensive linemen standing up, moving around, man coverage in the secondary, zone coverage in the secondary, quarters coverage, three deep coverage, single high, man three coverage. They do a lot schematically, and they do it well.

The front seven they call it the front eight. They like to get an extra hat in the box. And the defensive linemen play very athletically, especially on 3rd down. A lot of movement up front and twist games. Just moves, you know, with the defensive line. I mean, a lot of their length shows up there, length, long arms, restrict gaps, because they're so long and athletic. Very impressed. That's just the defensive side of the ball.

Q. Coach, is Mike Onwenu healthy, and how does that affect the right guard position?
JIM HARBAUGH: Yeah, Mike is healthy, practicing.

Q. And will Caesar still go out there, or is that to be determined?
JIM HARBAUGH: Yeah, to be determined.

Q. How much does playing a New Year's Day bowl help your recruiting?
JIM HARBAUGH: Good. It helps, yeah. It helps winning helps. It would help more if we win, I'm sure.

Q. What do you remember about Marcus Lattimore from your days in San Francisco?
JIM HARBAUGH: Great guy, great guy. Just a good, genuine, down to earth good person, hard worker. He really gave it everything he had to come back from that brutal injury. But always positive, always upbeat, always finding good things. Never complained. Just some real virtues. I know that he'll be great after football.

Q. What was that conversation like with him in terms of he's going to retire?
JIM HARBAUGH: You know, just understood, really. I mean, honest. That's what stands out. There have been guys, many of the guys that string it out, blame it on somebody else or the doctors or not him. He's just forthright, honest, and appreciative, and we were, as well, that he gave it everything he had. And I think that's the great thing about Marcus Lattimore, is that he'll be able to look back on his football career and know he gave it everything he had, therefore he can feel good about what he accomplished, and also a history of just always doing the right thing. A great example of somebody that didn't get bored doing the right thing. Just speaks volumes about who he is as a person and his character.

Q. I know you've got Devin Bush, Sr., out there coaching you guys; are you considering him for long term or just for the bowl?
JIM HARBAUGH: Yeah, he's the interim safeties coach, and I know Don (Brown) likes Devin a lot. So do I. So this is a great opportunity for him to coach on the field. He hasn't done that, and it's kind of a job interview. He's doing a good job.

Q. Is your team taking these business trip approach like it did last year, and why is that mindset important for you in a bowl game?
JIM HARBAUGH: We're just approaching the game as our next game, you know, as a big game, as a great challenge and opportunity to compete. That's always the best part. Our guys are getting themselves prepared, doing the things that you do in a game week to get yourself prepared, meetings, film watching, practices, training.

Q. What would a great performance by Brandon Peters do in terms of his development for next year?
JIM HARBAUGH: It would be great for us, great for the team, great for him. He's locked in, laser like focus going into this ballgame and practicing well, preparing really well. Not going to let himself get beat in this game.

Q. What are your impressions of the South Carolina quarterback?
JIM HARBAUGH: He does a great job. He gives his receivers a chance to make plays. I think that's the thing that sticks out the most, and can get the ball to all different parts of the field and does a real nice job with the deep ball. You know, he's a composed guy. He doesn't rattle or get flinched. We're going to have to do our best to make things speed up for him because he's a cool customer. He does a good job.

Q. With South Carolina in transition at offensive coordinator and a new guy calling plays for the first time, does that leave you a little bit in the dark about what to expect from them on offense?
JIM HARBAUGH: A little bit, yeah.

Q. How does that affect your defensive preparation?
JIM HARBAUGH: You try to anticipate and be ready to resolve what might occur on game day.

Q. This is your first trip to the Outback Bowl; so far has the experience met your expectations?
JIM HARBAUGH: Oh, it's been fantastic. Really happy with the hotel we're at, the Grand Hyatt, and we're all just right there together. Our meals are right there, meetings are right there. Then we get on a bus and we go to practice. That's a real short drive away. Feels like you're on the bus for four or five minutes, a couple miles maybe. Great facility to practice at. They've done a great job with the green grass and the it's right there. When you walk out of the locker room, you're right there on the field. Everything is lined. It's really good. Everything is really A+ plus over there, and then we come back, we've had a few activities, been moving as a team, but everything is real close. Hey, we get to have all those it's just fun being together. That's what we like. We like being together as a football team and working on football and eating good food, staying at a great hotel, practicing great practice meals, weight room facilities are good, and we're like a pig in slop right now. Our families are going to start coming down over the next couple days, so that will increase the business of everything, and then got the ballgame we're looking forward to. Just steaming toward that. All good. It's all good, man.

Q. I remember last time, last year around this time you mentioned something about when people put your name out for other jobs?
JIM HARBAUGH: Let's move on to the next question. That's like warmed up oatmeal. Or anything else when it's rehashed or warmed up, it's not good anymore. Oatmeal is the first thing that comes to mind. Not a big fan of warmed up oatmeal.

Q. You've talked about Brandon's performance so far --
JIM HARBAUGH: Good. He's been really good. Locked in, performing well. That's about been throwing the ball good. Been sharp. Mechanics are getting better and better. Just naturally he's got a lot of talent, and just getting better with the mechanics every time he has an opportunity to go out on the practice field. Every rep is great for him because it's one of those positions that you can watch a play and it's always something that you can see to get better at or coach. You can really it's not nitpicking, it's just coaching. There's always something in a quarterback's play that you can coach or talk about and learn from. Every opportunity he has to go out on the field is great for him.

Q. I've got to ask you about ChadTough thing and how that's really taken off and what they've accomplished with that?
JIM HARBAUGH: Yeah, that's all everybody I think has just been blown away by that. It's just awesome. I know that the guys were hoping to raise a couple thousand dollars, and they were really excited that it was going to be up to $10,000, and seeing that it's up to $200,000, I think it's just phenomenal, and really proud of the whole Michigan family and community, the way they've rallied. Just awesome.

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