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December 8, 2019

Jim Harbaugh

Orlando, Florida

MATT REPCHAK: Thank you for joining us, Coach Harbaugh.

We'll take an opening statement from coach, then take questions.

JIM HARBAUGH: Hello, everybody. Very excited in the announcement that we will be playing in the January bowl game, the Vrbo Citrus Bowl, January 1st, versus Alabama.

MATT REPCHAK: Steve, would you like to say anything at this point.

STEVE HOGAN: Congratulations, coach. Looking forward to working with you again. Had the pleasure of hosting the University of Michigan and coach here a number of years ago.

The 74th Vrbo Citrus Bowl now, kind of cool to be one of the seven oldest games in the country. We're going to get to host number 13 and 14, two of the winningest programs in the history of the sport. These kids work hard all season long, they deserve this opportunity. I think we're going to give them historically one of the best stages to play on available in the post-season.

Over the last two decades, when you look at the BCS era, CFP era, there was only one year where the Vrbo Citrus Bowl didn't at least outrate one of the BCS games or New Year's Six. We are proud of that. We're excited, coach, to bring your deserving team down here to face Alabama.

JIM HARBAUGH: Thank you. We're excited, too.

MATT REPCHAK: We'll take some questions.

Q. A couple years ago when you were in a similar situation, coming off the Ohio State game, came down here and handed one pretty good to an SEC team. Do you take anything from that experience with this team facing Alabama? Are there some similarities in your mind?
JIM HARBAUGH: Well, like I said, we played in the Citrus Bowl back in 2015, that season, I guess a very good Florida team. The Alabama team is a great team. I have the utmost respect for them. They've set the bar for college football over the last many years. They're a model of success. Credit to Nick Saban, his coaches.

High-powered offense. A great defense. I've already started to look at them. They really, really lead on offense. I think they're averaging somewhere around 48 points a game. Their two offensive tackles look to be guys that could be top 20 picks in the draft. A lot of good receivers. This could be the best group of receivers I've seen in maybe ever. Three top picks, probably three first-round picks in that group. Two really talented runningbacks. Very impressed with Matt Jones.

Defense, the special teams is dynamic. Punt return, kick return. We'll need to have a great plan in regard to all three phases of the game.

Excited for the opportunity.

Q. Alabama obviously is used to playing in the Playoff the last several years. Do you think there's any benefit for your team kind of facing a program like that, that's not necessarily used to not being in the Playoff, not having a national championship to play for?
JIM HARBAUGH: The team, as I said, this is the model of success football program. '14, '15, '16, '17, '18, all Playoff. The team, as you look at it, is a great defensive unit. They have really, really outstanding players. Great freshmen group, too. The freshmen linebackers, the defensive line, experienced secondary. Fabulous team. A very, very elite team.

As I said, credit to Nick Saban and the coaching staff.

Our preparation will have to be at its highest level. We're looking forward to it. Good to know who you're playing. Good to get started, preparing for the ballgame. It will be a big-time matchup. We're very much looking forward to it.

Q. What do you remember about the recruiting process with Najee Harris? What have you seen on film from him so far from this season?
JIM HARBAUGH: He's been really, really effective. Big, powerful back with outstanding balance. I've always admired his feet and his balance and his vision, the physicality with which he runs.

Q. What is your relationship with Nick Saban? You had some tension a few years ago about the satellite camps. What do you remember about that?
JIM HARBAUGH: Good, professional. Very cordial every time I've been around him, which has been a few of the Heisman ceremonies, basketball game a pretty long time ago. Just been a coach who I've admired the career and job that he's done.

Q. Nick Saban spoke earlier about players making individual decisions about whether they're going to play in this game, given their futures, potential draft stock. What is your message and expectation for your players along those lines?
JIM HARBAUGH: Those are individual conversations. Finish what you started has always been kind of the general rule that I've personally thought of it as.

Q. Coach Saban also spoke about more generally how the Playoff has changed how players view bowl games, especially the non-New Year's Six bowl games. How do you think over the past six years of having a Playoff the perception of bowl games has changed?
JIM HARBAUGH: I don't know. I'll kind of let you answer that one. You've thought about it more than I have, I'm pretty sure about that. I'm just coaching the team.

MATT REPCHAK: Coach Harbaugh, thank you for your time. We look forward to getting you down here to Orlando at the end of the month.

JIM HARBAUGH: Thank you very much.

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