He’s not exactly exchanging his trademark cleats and whistle for a smile and a hug, but there’s no doubt Jim Harbaugh has made a few adjustments this off-season.
Devin Bush summed it up with one example at media availability on Monday:
“He’s doing some things different than my freshman year. We get music. We didn’t get music my freshman and sophomore year.”
It seems like a small change, but it’s certainly impacted the players.
It was almost the first thing to roll off Tyree Kinnel’s tongue when asked how the head-man has evolved.
“With us, music gets us going,” Kinnel said. “Now he’s playing music in practice for the first part of warmups and that gets us going mentally knowing we can vibe off the music a little bit before we start practice.”
Loosening up on the practice tunes seems to be part of a larger trend signaling Harbaugh is trying to be more attentive to his players as people and not just cogs in a football machine.
Bush and Kinnel mentioned that he’s always been a player’s coach, but now their teammates are more comfortable around him, to mutual benefit.
“We feed off him as he feeds off us,” Kinnel said. “If there’s something we want to go to him about, we feel comfortable going to him and talking about it. It’s been working well both ways. He’s definitely welcoming.”
Many have noticed that Harbaugh’s making fewer waves on Twitter lately, and while the intensity will always be there, especially in front of the media, it sounds like he’s relaxing a little more around his athletes.
“He’s trying to let us know that he’s here for us,” Kinnel said. “Everyone in the locker room feels comfortable going into the office to talk to him. He’s a player’s coach so he’s always asking us what we want and what we need. He seems better to me.”
If you’re a Michigan fan that doesn’t like the idea of a kinder, gentler Harbaugh, don’t worry. His leeway has a limit.
“No, he’s not dancing,” Kinnel said. “We try not to dance in front of him, either, or else the music will be gone.”