"We know we're not the biggest guy on the block – Michigan State's bigger than us on the block," Harbaugh said, at the Heratio Williams clinic in Detroit, with rest of his Michigan staff and former players in attendance.That announcement was met by a presumed Spartan fan clapping in the background.
"Rightfully so," Harbaugh agreed.
"[MSU] have done a tremendous job. We respect the job they've done, but we want that."
Michigan State, of course, has won six of the last seven the rivalry, adding a Big Ten Championship (2013) and two BCS Bowl wins (Rose, Cotton) these past two seasons.
And that success is where Harbaugh wants his program to be.
"It's winning and where their program is, give them credit -- it's been earned," Harbaugh said. "We respect the job that they've done. We want people to know what our ambitions are and how we're going to go about things and what kind of program we're developing and has been developed for many years. This is still Michigan."
Former Michigan player, Detroit Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher has seen his top two players Damon Webb and Mike Weber these past two seasons both choose rival Ohio State, after years of being a U-M recruiting hot bed. He also acknowledged that Harbaugh recognizes that MSU is a school he will have to continue to contend with moving forward.
"The most important thing I saw Jim do today was he recognized, that this is Michigan but right now, Michigan State is on the big block," Wilcher said. "I think that gives you an opportunity to say hey, we've got to get back on that block -- we got to get on top. He gave respect to (MSU coach Mark) Dantonio. I think the most important thing is he took that and he can build upon that. He's going to fight his way up there. That's the most important thing. He understands where he is at. And he understands where he needs to go."