Harbaugh pay tribute to Moeller as Big Ten media days open

Published 2:33 am Thursday, July 28, 2022

By Jim Naveau



INDIANAPOLIS – Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh recalled Gary Moeller as not just a former coach but also a good friend of his father, Jack Harbaugh, at the Big Ten football media days on Tuesday.

Moeller, a Lima native, was an assistant coach at Michigan all five years Jim Harbaugh played for the Wolverines and Moeller and Jack Harbaugh coached together for four years while they were assistant coaches at Michigan.

“He was just a great man. When I was coming here (Michigan) to play, Coach Mo was the offensive coordinator. But then right after signing day, Bill McCartney went to Colorado and Coach Moeller got moved to defense and was defensive coordinator,” Harbaugh said.

“Andy Moeller (Gary and Ann Moeller’s son) was in my class. Coach Moeller was one of the all-time great ones. Great, great coach. They don’t quite make them like that now, it seems. Time for guys like us to start standing up and being great football guys. He will be missed.

“There are so many great things he would say. I told the guys on the Big Ten Network he had one, that my dad would always say, too. He’d say, ‘We’re in a pear tree now.’ You knew that was a good thing, that we were in a good spot because we were in a pear tree.

“I don’t know why being in a pear tree was being in a good spot. Maybe it was a partridge in a pear tree from the song. I thought it was my dad’s saying but my dad told me two weeks ago when Coach Mo passed that it was a Coach Moeller saying.

“They were great friends and coaches together on the Michigan staff and my heart goes out to the Moeller family. Gary Moeller is a great man.”

Coaches and players from Michigan, Nebraska, Minnesota, Maryland, Indiana, Iowa and Northwestern attended Tuesday’s media day. Wednesday, Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Purdue, Penn State, Illinois and Rutgers will take their turn at answering question.

Some observations from the seven coaches at Tuesday’s first day of the Big Ten Football Media Days:

– Harbaugh on his relationship with Ohio State coach Ryan Day and his attitude toward him:

“Professional. At the Heisman, cordial. When we’re playing each other he’s doing everything to have his team win, I’m doing everything I can to have my team win.”

When asked if he was referring to Day when he said, “Some people standing on third base think they hit a triple but they didn’t,” after Michigan’s 42-27 win over Ohio State last November he said, “I have no comment about that at this time.”

– Harbaugh on adding USC and UCLA to the Big Ten: “Great (football) programs, great academic programs. They’re a great fit, I think. Personally, I’m an old school guy. I kind of like a strong West Coast conference, a strong Southeast conference, a strong Midwest conference, a strong East coast conference.

“But things are different now. Things have changed. It’s probably not the last, either. But we’ll see.”

– Nebraska coach Scott Frost on name, image and likeness and what it can do for the Cornhuskers:

“Nebraska is going to be one of the best places in the country for NIL. There’s so much fan support.

There’s so much interest. There’s so much passion around it. A lot of businesses and people in Nebraska have really given our current players a ton of opportunities already.

“The attraction of NIL has certainly helped us add some pieces to our team and I think will going forward,” he said.

– Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck on the added travel that will come with adding USC and UCLA to the Big Ten: “I was part of MAC-tion. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday nights on nine-hour bus rides. I think there’s people way smarter than me that will figure all that out in terms of how we’re going to make that all work.”

– Fleck on standout running back Mohamed Ibrahim, who suffered a torn ACL against Ohio State in last year’s opener: “He’s a full strength and ready to roll.”

– Maryland coach Mike Locksley on the Terrapins quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa: “I don’t think there’s a more underrated player in the country than Taulia Tagovailoa, and I’ll continue to say it.”

– Locksley on Maryland’s best wide receiver Dontay Demus, who is coming back from a torn ACL:

“Dontay is ahead of schedule. Really, really impressed with how he’s returned. The expectation is that we’ll see Dontay Demus playing in the first game.”

– Indiana coach Tom Allen made the understatement of the day about winning two games last season after being ranked No. 12 in the final AP poll in 2020: “Things didn’t go the way we wanted them to go in 2021.”

– Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz on tight end Luke Lachey, the back-up to Sam LaPorta who led the Big Ten tight ends with 53 catches last season: “We feel good about Sam LaPorta and and Luke Lachey is a really good football player as well.”

Lachey is the son of former Ohio State and NFL offensive lineman Jim Lachey.

– Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald on long trips when USC and UCLA start playing in the Big Ten in 2024: “Will there be a travel component to it? There is, but we’re going to Dublin in the opener (to play Nebraska) this year, so it won’t be that big of a deal.”