CHICAGO — Jim Harbaugh raised his arms, as if celebrating a touchdown, when he headed toward the exit of the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place on Friday evening. He had just completed an entire day as the center of attention at Big Ten Media Days. 

Harbaugh’s afternoon press scrums consisted of dozens of media members, rivaled only by those of Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, months removed from winning the national championship. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald fielded two questions about Harbaugh in his press conference before he was asked about his team’s quarterback competition.

And while conference media days are often known to be haphazard affairs, Harbaugh was in seemingly unchartered territory with the interest media members took in every facet of his life and career. 

Throughout the day, Harbaugh was asked about events relating to the 2000 San Diego Chargers, the 1986 Michigan Wolverines and the 2015 South Florida Bulls, coached by his close friend Willie Taggart. 

At one point, he even paused, for a moment, to look up at the ceiling while envisioning a hypothetical Twitter conversation between Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes.

He explained how his Twitter account has helped his spelling and grammar, and whether or not he was able to blend in with the crowd during his recent vacation to France, even during an offseason in which he has dominated the discussion surrounding college football.

“I was a Frenchman,” Harbaugh said.

When Harbaugh wasn’t meeting with the media, other Big Ten coaches and players were being asked about him in their own sessions.

Michigan senior linebacker Joe Bolden estimated that he had been asked questions about his coach’s personality in 5,000 different ways, noting that he never gets tired of answering them.

“I frequently wonder why you guys are so obsessed with our head coach,” Bolden said. “And you look at the guy and he’s very interesting. But you look at what else is going on in the world, and you’ve got to think, there’s a lot. I know it’s specific to your reporting, (but) there’s a lot going on. Why Coach Harbaugh? Why not (Texas A&M coach Mike Sumlin)? Why not Coach Meyer? Why not one of the coaches in the Pac 12? 

“You guys love it, and I love that you guys love it. It’s awesome.”

Last season, Bolden and other team leaders frequently shouldered the burden and pressure from the media and fans after losses during the Wolverines’ 5-7 season. Now, the focus is squarely on Harbaugh, even when the players walk around campus going about their days.

“That’s like the number one question,” Ross III said. “If they find out you play for football, it’s like ‘How’s Harbaugh? How’s Coach Harbaugh? How is he?’ ”

Two tables over, a crowd of reporters had already begun to wait for Harbaugh’s arrival to his final media session of the day. He answered questions for 36 minutes, some about this year’s Michigan football team, even more about himself. 

He was amused by the spectacle at times, reflecting at length on his Twitter account and expressing surprise that the time he removed his shirt at Michigan’s satellite camp in Alabama was such a big deal.

“Shirts and skins,” he said, interrupting a reporter. “It was shirts and skins! How does not everybody understand that?”

Toward the end of the session, Harbaugh’s three players in attendance stood up on chairs behind the media and asked their coach a burning question, about who was the best-looking player on the team. They laughed, disappointed by Harbaugh’s answer that he only finds beauty in his wife, Sarah.

Later, when Harbaugh straightened his tie and left his seat at the table, Fitzgerald was the only remaining coach still talking to the media, sitting two tables away. He had answered questions about Harbaugh throughout the day. From his perspective, Harbaugh’s situation is ideal. Because everyone asks about the coach, the players are spared difficult questions.

“I’d rather have them go to class, Snapchat away and play ball,” Fitzgerald said. “Have fun, it’s college.”

The chairs around Fitzgerald’s table were filled, but he did not command the standing-room only crowd that Harbaugh did. He joked about different ways to create Twitter buzz, including creating a hashtag that would encourage fans to blame him for losses. 

Harbaugh claims his Twitter account consists of his thoughts, that nothing has been contrived by advisors or for marketing purposes, but it has fed the attention surrounding him all the same. To others in the conference, it seems like everything has.

“As a peer and as a colleague, I would say I think he’s handled it really well,” Fitzgerald said. “I think he’s embraced it and had fun with it. I think he goes home — I’m speaking me, my opinion — I think he probably goes home at night and laughs his ass off.”

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