The secret to his success

I have no doubt that Jim Harbaugh’s early success at turning around a moribund Michigan program is going to have people scratching through what he does there to see how much of it can be emulated elsewhere.  The answer is probably not as much as those people hope, because a lot of what Harbaugh’s done is simply to get his players believing they can succeed, but I bet this is something that catches the eyes of some.

“A lot of people are trying to explain,” linebacker Joe Bolden said. “I would say finishing. Just being able to finish football games.”

Or even halves. Last season, seven Michigan opponents scored in the last two minutes of the first half. Four scored in the last four minutes of the second half. Bolden believes this year’s team began to learn to finish in the spring, when Harbaugh held four-hour practices.

A quarter-century ago, the NCAA instituted the four-hour rule: no football-related activity could last longer than four hours a day. That includes meetings, conditioning, practicing, you name it.

“His idea was, why spend any of that in the meeting room? We need to get better on the football field,” defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said.

Linebacker Desmond Morgan said he learned the first week that the key to surviving a four-hour practice is simple: Don’t look at the clock. He and the rest of the Wolverines learned something else. If you can finish a four-hour practice, if you can maintain focus and be as mentally sharp at the end as at the beginning, then a three-hour game should be no problem…

The next big thing.  There you have it.

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64 Comments

Filed under Big Ten Football

64 responses to “The secret to his success

  1. @gatriguy

    DJ gonna be a head coach soon enough.

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  2. TennesseeDawg

    Amazing what a new coach can do to excite a program

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  3. Dave

    That’s pretty awesome.

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  4. Granthams replacement

    It won’t work at UGA, too much injury risk according to the coaches. Pretty simple and effective idea, make practice as physical and as long/longer than a game to get better. There’s no doubt Michigan has a totally different mentality than last year driven by the head coach.

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    • WHB209

      When you are giving up 38 points a game, how can injuries matter?
      It ain’t going to make things more rotten.

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      • Dolly Llama

        Um, because these athletes are actual people who feel pain?

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        • anon

          oh…and MI players aren’t? I bet they aren’t feeling much pain in the locker room after all of these wins. Full speed ahead with the pussification at UGA.

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          • Dolly Llama

            Hell yeah! One gets hurt, drag his ass off and send in the next one! He was a weak, fragile pussy anyway! hurrhurrhurr

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          • gastr1

            If you think pussification is a thing, Hardbaugh is surely your coach. No, those aren’t actual humans in the uniforms as far as Harbag is concerned.
            Is anyone taking bets on whether he can actually last longer than three years in a job without pissing off everyone around him?

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        • Are you fuckin’ serious right now? Let me take you by Parris Island or Great Lakes. I’ll show you people feeling pain. And it’s longer than four hours a day.

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  5. Bulldog Joe

    The country club is closed in Ann Arbor.

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  6. Skeptic Dawg

    This is so depressing to read. Michigan, a public university with an excellent academic reputation and an ambition to have an excellent athletic department. While in Athens those in charge look to Virginia as the shining example. The good news is that Richt will be around for a while longer! 2 to 4 losses a year ain’t so bad. (Sarcastic face inserted).

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    • Actually it started with the AD being canned.

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      • Mayor

        Which is where it should start in Athens, too. Then a complete house-cleaning at B-M when the new AD shows up.

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        • Skeptic Dawg

          So, what will it take to get McGarity canned? I for one believe that the problems in Athens do not sit squarely upon the shoulders of B-M. Yes, B-M is partially to blame, but Richt carries more than his fair share of blame as well.

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          • Mayor

            I think Jere Morehead has linked McGarity’s future to the success of the football team. I believe (no inside knowledge here–just belief) that if CMR goes McCheap goes, too.

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    • PatinDC

      This is what it took for MI to get to Harbaugh.
      Lloyd Carr = Mark Richt. I will concur. Solid winner. No MNC’s.
      2008 RRod 3-9
      2009 RRod 5-7
      2010 RRod 7-6
      2011 BH 11-2
      2012 BH 8-5
      2013 BH 7-6
      2014 BH 5-7
      2015 Harbaugh

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      • PatinDC

        Dang. I wish we could edit. Carr’s best year was 1997, won the Rose Bowl , 12 – 0 and finished number 1. I compare to CMR’s best year 2002 went 13-1, won the Sugar Bowl and finished #3

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        • sUGArdaddy

          The problem with ANY comparison like this is that Hoke finished with 8-5, 7-6 and 5-7. Richt has had 1 terrible season (6-7 in 2010). Our BAD seasons with Richt have been 8-5 in 2009 and 2013, one of those the most injury plagued we’ve really ever seen.

          But the bigger point is that Harbaugh was an absolute slam dunk. He was coming off back to back Pac-12 titles and 3-straight NFC championship game appearances, including one Super Bowl.

          This mythological person does not exist for us. Now, if we could get Chip Kelley, maybe we should talk. But we’d hire the Memphis coach or Kirby Smart or someone like that. And there’s absolutely little evidence at any program that those kinds of hires are producing better results than we’re getting.

          If Bobo takes Colorado St. goes to two NY6 bowls in the next 4 years, then we’d have a candidate.

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          • Skeptic Dawg

            So we are left to live with 2-4 losses every season under Richt and we should like? The possibility of missing on a new head coach are real and not fun for anyone to live through. However, the possibility of hiring an great head coach is just as real. Dropping 2-4 games a season, especially when 1 or 2 of those are complete faceplants, is not a fun world to live in. The real argument is where you (you as in global) believe Richt is capable of winning SEC or national championships. In todays shocking news, I do not believe Richt is capable of winning a title of any sort at this point in his career. I believe that his better days are far behind him. But that is just my opinion.

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            • Mayor

              Why did this happen? My theory is that coaching match-ups is the cause here. When CMR came along in 2001 the HCs in the SEC East were : FU–Ron Zook; South Carolina–Granny Holtz; UT–Phil Fulmer; UK (who cares?); Vanderbilt (who cares redux?). CMR was a better coach than all those guys, Fulmer excepted, and he was at least equal to Fulmer. In the past few years all the coaches at these schools turned over. FU got Urban Meyer who, like him or hate him (I hate him), is a hell of a coach. SC got Spurrier who, like him or hate him (I hate him) is a damn fine coach. UK got Rich Brooks for several years (also a lot better than what the Cats had) and now has Mark Stoops who is a good coach. Vandy got James Franklin who, like him or hate him (I hate him) is a much better coach than what they had before. Then add Pickle of Mizzou who is an excellent coach. The only team in the East that got a worse coach was UT that had SOD for 3 years and now has Booch. The same thing happened on the West side, too. Bama got rid of a series of mediocre coaches but now has Saban. Ole Miss–Freeze. Missy State–Dan Mullen. LSU–Les Miles (he’s a step down from Saban but only a slight one and still is good). Even Arky is improved on paper with a 3 time B1G Champ in Bert. Auburn has been all over the place and the jury is still out on Gus, but they managed to win a nattie ’cause of Cammy. What am I saying? The opposition has changed. CMR was a young hungry innovative HC when he started at Georgia. Now he looks a lot like Fulmer did at the end to me–the game has passed him by. We used to have a coaching edge on almost everybody else in the SEC. Now everybody else has the coaching edge on us.

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              • adam

                Florida’s coach in 2001 was Steve Spurrier.

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              • Skeptic Dawg

                I agree 100% Mayor. The question is how much longer do we have endure the Richt Experience? He should have been shown the door after the 2010 season, but he remains.

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                • Mayor

                  I picked the coaches for opposing schools that were there the longest (sort of) in my analysis above. UK had Joker Phillips for a while but I don’t count him because he was just a place holder after Rich Brooks. Same with Vandy–I didn’t count Mason because he’s a filler who will only be there another year or so. And the hires/fires of these other schools don’t exactly match up to CMR’s tenure at Georgia. Spurrier was HC at FU for 1 year while CMR was HC at UGA (and won that game) then became HC at SC and a thorn in CMR’s side at a later date. Not scientific, just a by the seat of my pants analysis.

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          • dawgman3000

            Chip Kelly! I’d rather keep Richt if he was the only choice.

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      • They quit too early on RRod. He ran an entirely different system than what Carr ran. They gave him three years, then, once the roster was in place, switched back to a Carr-like system. Plus, Hoke was out of his league. That was the terrible hire.

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        • @gatriguy

          Agreed. RichRod marches to his own drum and his WV roots and style aren’t for everyone, but I’ve always thought he was a good coach.

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  7. baitstand

    “Or even halves. Last season, seven Michigan opponents scored in the last two minutes of the first half. Four scored in the last four minutes of the second half. Bolden believes this year’s team began to learn to finish in the spring, when Harbaugh held four-hour practices.”

    I believe we all thought there was a high probability Tennessee would score at the end of the first half and change the dynamic of the game. We just didn’t expect them to score twice. I suppose we should have.

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  8. Nate Dawg

    I gotta sneaky feeling Harbaugh is a bit of a realist and looked at the schedule and said something like “hey, this ain’t the SEC (tough) or the Pac12 (fast-paced, basketball on grass) so if I put these guys through 4 hour practices now…imagine what they might can do to this league…”. But what the hell do I know – let’s just keep rehashing how much the Dawgs suck this year.
    That being said I still feel Mich is a bit over-rated and took Mich St +7.5 this weekend. But as I stated earlier, what the hell do I know.

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    • Biggus Rickus

      Michigan State has barely managed to beat bad teams by 7.5. I would take Michigan straight up, but even if they don’t win, they won’t lose by more than a touchdown.

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      • Nate Dawg

        Um, I think you may be confused here – or I am…but Mich St +7.5 means Mich is favored by 7.5. So I don’t think Mich wins by more than 7.5, and I kinda think Mich St wins out right. Thus me having taken Mich St +7.5.

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        • Biggus Rickus

          Oh, my bad. You’re right. I misread that. Okay, you’re not an idiot. I am.

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          • Nate Dawg

            eggh..idiot’s a bit harsh there…I have to reteach myself that lesson every week so don’t feel too bad…a gambler I am not but me and a buddy pick 3 games a week between each other so…

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            • Biggus Rickus

              I picked every SEC and Big East game against the spread with a buddy of mine (WVU fan, so that’s why the Big East) for a few years, so I get the whole +/- thing. I just had a brain fart.

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  9. Russ

    Well, the obvious flaw is when was the last time you saw a 3 hour game? 😉

    So, I’m to assume any meetings needed to install a game plan or develop new schemes is just hashed out on the field? Sounds simple but are they really not having meetings, or are they just “voluntary” now?

    Amazing turnaround nonetheless. I’m hoping to see Harbaugh give Irvin another fake heart attack this year. Harbaugh is an ass, too, but not nearly the ass Corch is.

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  10. pumblechook014

    Harbaugh brings exactly what Richt lacks: an intense mental and emotional edge. Seriously, the dude is borderline insane. He goes flat out all the time, so it’s no surprise that his team has followed suit.

    You don’t have to have a Harbaugh-type personality to coach a team to a championship, but it sure helps.

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  11. But, CBS games last longer than four hours…

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  12. JAX

    Someone name the last laid-back, chilled out, all-around good dude coach who won a national title in CFB?

    *Hint — they don’t exist.

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    • Biggus Rickus

      Pete Carroll. Though he was cheating.

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    • Bobby Bowden Syndrome

      Les Miles

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    • JAX

      So we have a Pete Carroll, Tom Osborne, and Bobby Bowden. I will tell you right here and now that Pete Carroll is not “laid back”. Don’t mistake his jovial tone with laid back or calm — he is neither. He is intense as hell but just isn’t an asshole like the usual intense guy (Meyer). Plus he was a cheater USC but what the heck, the guy can coach.

      Osborne was not laid back, just an old school Tom Landry sort of guy but he was pensive, intense, and really pushed his teams.

      A younger Bowden would tell people “We’ll play anyone, anywhere, anytime”. Does anyone actually believe, for one second, that Mark Richt has that type of moxie. No fucking way.

      Georgia needs an intelligent coach that brings a mental edge and understands how to rip the oppositions heart out. I’ve seen enough of Mark Richt to know that he isn’t that kind of guy.

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  13. 69Dawg

    Let’s look at the big picture with Mich. They actually have alumni that coach at a high level. Who’s the best coach ever produced by the University of Georgia as an alumnus? Maybe Johnny Rauch 100 years ago. We don’t have a white knight out there waiting to come home and save mama. If Mike Bobo does a great job at CSU he might get the job but he would start off with at least 50% of the fan base having an irrational hate of him. My son, a graduate of UGA as am I, hates him and I can’t convince him that Bobo was not the devil. Kirby Smart, not going to happen, too many bridges burned. Likewise Muschamp dynamited his bridges. I guess we can become GT and hire Brian Bohanon from Kennesaw State. He seems to know what he is doing. The problem comes back to what the Senator has always said “do you trust B_M to get it right?” I don’t. I just wish the coaches would have given us a hint that the team was not what all the hype made it out to be. If our coaches couldn’t see this sh*t storm coming then they all should be fired. Let’s just give them all participation trophies and call it a season.

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  14. El Dawgo

    A 4 hour practice in Ann Arbor is a little different weather-wise than a 4 hour sweaty scorcher in GA.

    Yet, another need to hurry up with the IPF.

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  15. Or maybe he’s only half a season into his first year and everyone should wait a minute before naming him the Great Resurrector.

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