Warde Manuel sees the attention his football coach garners on a daily basis. He just doesn’t mind it.
Between the summer production of a rap video, his well-publicized satellite camp tour and various Twitter beefs, Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh remains a fixture in the public eye. Regardless of whether it is intentional, Harbaugh simply draws attention to himself and to Michigan.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Manuel said that while he feels the media often creates that attention, it doesn’t bother him.
“In my mind it has a lot of positives,” Manuel said. “You look at, when I look at the coverage and I look at what he’s doing and what’s out there about him and the program, it has a great deal of (positivity) to it, from my perspective.”
Asked about the freedom Harbaugh holds in the athletic department, Manuel was resolute in saying he does not manage his coaches by telling them what they can and can’t do. He said everyone has freedom, including himself, and that when issues do come up, they are usually handled with a conversation.
On subjects like alternate uniforms, Manuel also noted that he would not force teams to wear any specific alternate uniforms if they did not want to, just one example of the ways coaches are trusted to handle their programs.
He also spoke to Harbaugh’s sound understanding of NCAA rules and Michigan’s culture, while also saying it was his own job to make sure all coaches were aware of both.
But as for Harbaugh’s relative power within the department, Manuel stayed away from making any hierarchies.
“Jim Harbaugh is a great colleague in this department. That’s what I’ll say,” Manuel said. “You guys can determine who’s more powerful, and who’s all-seeing and all-knowing. That’s not for me. Jim is a great colleague, he’s a great head coach of our football program. He’s a powerful figure in the university and a powerful person in intercollegiate athletics in football because he is the head coach at Michigan, he’s had a tremendous career, he is very bright.”
Manuel called Harbaugh “tremendous” to deal with and also spoke highly of his value to the school. Multiple outlets recently reported the details of an addendum to Harbaugh’s contract stipulating an additional $2 million in compensation be paid in the form of a life insurance policy.
And while that contract was negotiated under former interim athletic director Jim Hackett, Manuel said he had no problem with it.
“I think Jim has proven that he brings tremendous benefit to our football program, to this department and to this university,” Manuel said. “I don’t have any problems. (I) think he’s worth every penny that he makes.”