“Hi, my name is Jim Harbaugh. Thanks, Mr. Wahl [Ed. A-Orange Bowl communications director]. Uh, sorry I wasn’t able to get on the call earlier. I was on a plane. Thanks for coming back at this time. If you have any questions, I’d be glad to answer.”
Being at the ‘86 game against FSU in Ann Arbor—I believe that was your senior year—you won by two. I just remember it being probably one of the worst officiated games I ever saw. What do you remember about that ballgame?
“What was the final score? I don’t remember the final score.”
20-18, you won.
“Oh, it was two points? Okay. I just remember how great Deion Sanders was. That was what stood out in my mind. And Coach Bowden, he was really cool. I remember running and scrambling, I scrambled left and went back to the right toward their bench and ended up having—probably ran almost eighty or ninety yards one way to the one side then all the way back to the other side, and I got thrown out of bounds. I just remember him being cool and giving me a smile, a pat on the back, and he said something. But my coach that year, Bo, and Coach Bowden were coaches in the Hula Bowl, so I got to know him a little bit better at that point, too. Those are the two things that stick out most in my mind from that game.”
You would have been in the NFL, but did you watch that ‘91 game?
“Yeah, I remember not seeing the entire game. I do remember watching it. FSU won that one. Back-and-forth, intense game.”
It was 51-31, I think.
We just talked to a few of the players and they were bringing up the Christmas Camp you guys did last year and doing that again this year. Given the fact that you guys were aiming for the playoff spot and came up a little bit short, is there any concern making sure those guys are still motivated and still willing to put in the work here for a few more weeks?
“Um…well, I know I am. I know I’m motivated and ready to put in the work, and looking forward to it.”
[After THE JUMP: Florida State, one last statement on officiating, and great memories of coconuts]
You were here [the Orange Bowl] six years ago with Stanford. Aside from that, what are your memories of watching the Orange Bowl? It was always New Years night after the Rose in primetime. Got any great memories of it?
“Yeah, a bunch. A bunch. Vivid memories—our Stanford team was there in 2010. I remember being there as a youngster in 1975, playing against—Michigan played against Oklahoma. I was like 12 years old at that time, in that great Oklahoma game. Just great teams being in the game. Exciting atmosphere.
“We all really enjoyed our experience at the Orange Bowl the last time we were there. Eight day old, nine day old daughter Katie, who’s now, she’ll be turning six on December 17th; that was her first trip was to the Orange Bowl, and it was good. It was a lot of hard work in preparation, but like I just said, we look forward to that. A tremendous matchup; we’re very excited about that.”
Your dad was on the ‘75 staff, right?
“Yes, he was the defensive backs coach on the ‘75 staff.”
Do you remember anything specific about that game? I think it ended 14-6.
“Yeah, I remember…I think I remember Rick Leach—I think, did Rick Leach get hurt in that game? Mark Elzinga came in for that. Or maybe Rick was hurt before the game. Can’t remember if it was before or during the game that he got hurt. Just the Oklahoma players: Joe Washington, the Selmon brothers. Just an amazing team running the wishbone. It was cool.
“Watched—I was able to be on the sidelines for the game for that.
“I remember seeing coconuts for the first time. Coconut. This was 1975. Good memories.”
Did you got ahead and take the time to watch the tape of the Ohio State game?
Have you changed your opinion at all on the officiating? Is it the same or maybe worse, do you think?
“Well, I guess we can all just call it that we see it differently and leave it go at that. I still don’t accept it as a given that you can’t speak your mind and give your opinion on how you see things. If telling the truth is making things worse, then so be it.”
Did you have any conversations with Jim Delany at all?
“No. We just—we see it differently and leave it go at that.”
A couple of guys that we spoke to tonight mentioned that the seniors—Wormley and Glasgow, those kind of guys—that playing against a Florida State team for their last college game is an opportunity to show NFL scouts some things and put things on tape against a good opponent. Is that a factor for those guys as they get ready to move on from college ball at this point that you talk about with them?
“Yeah, I would think we all just look at it the same way. It’s an opportunity to play a football game against a great opponent on national television. I can always remember everybody watching the Orange Bowl. I think most of the country. People who like football, anyway, will be tuned in. That’s a tremendous field, tremendous place to play. Love the new renovations they’ve done on the stadium. Incredible what Mr. Ross has done down there.
“And yeah, I mean, we’ve all watched Florida State, too. We’ve seen them and what a fine team they always have. Great atmosphere for football, and their fanbase, the war pony and the spear, it’s all cool. Everything. Everything about it I think will be a great matchup. We’ll be excited to practice and get better and get prepared and get ready for a football fight at the Orange Bowl.”
With the fine that you got last week, will that make you rethink or change at all the way that you speak in postgame press conferences or talk to officials or anything like that?
“You know, you can just refer back to my earlier comment on it. I’ll refer you back to that. So, I don’t accept it as a given that you can’t speak your mind or tell the truth.”
Did you watch the Virginia Tech-Clemson game last night? Was that the game maybe you were holding out hope to get in the final four?
“I was just watching it, watching the game. Yeah, I was watching both games, the Wisconsin-Penn State game and the Virginia Tech and Clemson game.”
Do you have an opinion how it all turned out with Washington staying at the four spot?
“Yeah, I saw that game, too. They played real well as well. I was honestly watching the games as a fan.”
You’ve been in the Pac 10 and the Big Ten now. Is the Pac 10 being underrated across the country of is it getting its just due?
“Uh, is the Pac 10 being underrated?”
How do you see it? You’re one of the few coaches probably ever to coach in both of them. I can’t think of anybody else who’s coached in the Pac 10 and the Big Ten. You’ve got a unique perspective on it.
“I think there’s a lot. I think there’s a lot that have coached in the—”
As head coaches.
“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe not as many as head coaches. Yeah. What do you want me to say?”
“I respect the play in the Pac 12, yeah, a lot. Big 12, Big Ten, SEC, ACC, Mid-American. Wherever they play football.”
Some of the guys talked about making a statement in this game, that they felt like they belonged in that top four even though they put themselves in position to not be in the top four. Do you talk to these guys about that at all, about a chance to go prove that maybe you belonged?
“No, haven’t talked about that yet. The greatest share is we’re going to play it because we love it, we love to play. We love the game. Have great respect for the game of football and what a tremendous opportunity this is to play in the Orange Bowl against a great football team. I’m excited about it. Don’t have any statement to make on anything other than that. Great place to play and coach.”
I’m wondering if your NFL experience has come in handy for you personally in how you’re addressing your team since Ohio State simply because you reached a championship game, came back the next year and reached the Super Bowl, couldn’t win that game but came back the next year and won the championship game. Has there been a lesson for you there, a lesson you’ve been able to pass on to your team?
“Uh…I don’t know that the NFL experience has any bearing on it. Yeah, we love to compete. The opportunity to play the next game, win the next game; that’s been our mantra as a football team.”
Early prep here, but what do you know about Dalvin Cook and what type of things and challenges does he present to you guys on the defensive side?
“Just really been able to just look through the keyhole and seen Florida State just a few times on TV, so have not watched any of the coches’ tape yet. Just traveling back, just landed a bit ago, so that’s what I know. Not much at this point.”