Jim Harbaugh says he'd pick Michigan football to win the Big Ten

Nick Baumgardner
Detroit Free Press

CHICAGO — Jim Harbaugh liked his team this spring. He likes his team in July, too. 

Earlier this week, Michigan football was picked by a panel of Big Ten media members as the favorite to win the league this season. Asked for his thoughts on being the preseason championship pick during Big Ten media days in Chicago, Harbaugh gave his response. 

"That's where I'd pick us," he said. 

[ Everything Harbaugh said at the podium on Friday ]

Michigan, of course, hasn't won a Big Ten title since the 2004 team won a share of the championship. The Wolverines have never been to a Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis (something that's existed since 2011. 

Still, Harbaugh's on board with speaking confidently about the group Michigan will have this season. Asked specifically why he'd pick Michigan to win the league, Harbaugh got a bit more detailed with his answer. 

More from media days:

Harbaugh: U-M will play a game on 'foreign soil'

Harbaugh: Urban Meyer comment wasn't anything new

"I feel like, as I said earlier, I feel like our team is in a really good place," he said. "A young, enthusiastic team with good players and I feel good about our coaching staff.

"I feel like it's good, it's tight and we're preceding on a daily basis to make it tighter and better." 

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh responds to a question during the Big Ten media days on Friday, July 19, 2019, in Chicago.

Questioning Harbaugh about when Michigan will get over the hump and finally beat Ohio State (he's 0-4 against the Buckeyes) and win the league title has become common practice at Big Ten media days. 

Harbaugh is now 26-5 against every other Big Ten team during his four years with the Wolverines. And he's 0-4 against the Buckeyes. Michigan's won double digit games in three of Harbaugh's four years and has advanced to a pair of New Year's Six bowl games. 

But the Wolverines still haven't won the Big Ten. Still haven't made the College Football Playoff. Still haven't beaten Ohio State. 

It's safe to say, all of the above is on Harbaugh's to-do list this season. Whether or not it'll happen, though, is anyone's guess at this point. 

"It starts with our goals. .... To win the Big Ten championship, qualify for the playoffs, win the national championship. Those are our goals," Harbaugh said. "Then you put those to the back of the mind and focus on how you can achieve those. That's what we're trying to do better. Trying to do more. Focus on that day to day. I think it's good right now. I think it's tight.

"But like an anaconda, you want to keep squeezing it better and make it tighter. That's where I think our team is." 

Michigan has gone through plenty of changes this offseason. And returns plenty of talent. 

Harbaugh reshuffled his staff once again, bringing in former Alabama co-offensive coordinator Josh Gattis to run Michigan's new "pro-spread" offense — a no-huddle, more up-tempo system. The Wolverines do bring back a senior quarterback in Shea Patterson, four starters on the offensive line and a trio of wide receivers (Nico Collins, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black) who boast plenty of talent. 

But, ultimately, will this be the year? 

"(Winning the league is) what drives you. That's what starts you off. That's what gets you moving. Where you go from there is, focused," Harbaugh said. "The process of realizing those goals and making those goals happen. Do that. Better disciplined thinkers, better focus on the task day by day.

"That's how we're going about it." 

Contact Nick Baumgardner at nbaumgardn@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickbaumgardner. Read more on the Michigan Wolverines and sign up for our Wolverines newsletter.