Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has a head start in his preparation for the Wolverines’ New Year’s Day bowl matchup with Florida.
While the No. 19 Gators (10-3) were busy with the SEC Championship game, which they lost 29-15 to Alabama, Harbaugh spent the off week watching film of his anticipated postseason opponent.
By the time Florida and Michigan were officially paired in the Citrus Bowl on Sunday, Harbaugh had already seen half of Florida’s games from the 2015 season.
“Fantastic season they’ve had,” Harbaugh said. “They play with great intensity. Much respect for what they’ve done. Heck of a year for them.”
Prep for No. 14 Michigan (9-3) hadn’t begun for Gators coach Jim McElwain as of Sunday. However, he’s familiar with Harbaugh from his last coaching stint.
“I haven’t had much of a chance (to watch Michigan),” McElwain said. “Studying what they did prior when he was at Stanford, I was able to see some of that. I know their quarterback is doing a great job taking care of the football and throwing to the right guys.
“I don’t know Coach Harbaugh personally or anything like that, but obviously, I’ve seen from afar what that guy has done. A fantastic job he’s done there at his alma mater.”
Harbaugh returned the praise from McElwain, whom he has mutual acquaintances with, including his offensive coordinator Tim Drevno. McElwain and Drevno were on staff together at Montana State for three seasons (1995-1997).
Former Florida and Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin, now head coach at Maryland, served as the Gators’ interim coach during the program’s coaching change in 2014.
“He has an incredible reputation in the profession,” Harbaugh said of McElwain. “I think we all know that. From people that I respect and know very well, he has a fine reputation as a great coach.”
Both Harbaugh and McElwain are candidates for Coach of the Year this season.