As a Michigan football player, there are two teams, two games, two rivals that standout on the schedule above the rest: Michigan State and Ohio State.
Like most players on the team, senior linebacker James Ross III has yet to taste the spoils of victory against his rivals, but only the misery of defeat. And during Big Ten media days, he didn’t shy away from his feelings on potentially earning his first victory in one of those red-letter games.
“Every game is important,” Ross III said. “But I look at the guys, I look at the greats – Charles Woodson, Larry Foote – those types of guys and seeing what they done against those teams. I remember Larry Foote commented back at Kenny Demons about Notre Dame or whatever, he said, ‘a real Michigan man doesn’t judge how many times he beats Notre Dame. He judges himself how many times he beat those two teams.’ I definitely want to leave my stamp in Michigan history and go out with a bang my senior year.”
In his first three years at Michigan, Ross III is 1-5 against MSU and OSU, and admits he’s not happy about his lack of success against his rivals.
“Yeah, that hurts,” he said. “I can’t sugar coat it enough. Especially with them being very successful these past couple years every since I have been here. It’s been tough. All we are doing is working to get better.”
By getting better, Ross says it all starts with his coach – Jim Harbaugh – and his mindset he brings to the team.
“I feel like we are on the right path right now,” Ross said. “I feel like we are headed in the right direction. We’re going to go ahead and see where that takes us. But I know the mindset of the team. You guys try to interview coach Harbaugh all the time, and you see his mindset. You see the way he looks at things. We’re definitely adapting that mindset.”
What is Harbaugh’s mindset exactly? Well, Ross III says it has to deal with Harbaugh’s will to be the best.
“He’s intense, he’s serious about what he does,” Ross said of Harbaugh. “One of things he said, ‘anything worth doing is worth doing well.’ And that’s the way he looks at it. No matter, I don’t know, if he’s cutting grass, he’s going to be the best grass cutter or lawnmower cutter there is. He just takes things seriously. He’s very meticulous about everything he does. That’s the way we are starting to apply ourselves.”
Now we’ll have to see if Ross and his teammates can apply Harbaugh’s mantra in those rivalry games. In the meantime, Michigan opens up its season at Utah on Sept. 3.