In what can only be described as the most highly anticipated spring football season, maybe ever, Michigan officially kicked off practice No. 1 Monday down at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Despite all of the hoopla surrounding the Wolverines trek south for spring break, the Wolverines took to the field in the sunshine to begin preparation for year two of the Jim Harbaugh era.
"It was great," Harbaugh told several local and national reporters in attendance. "Great to be out here practicing.
"Always liked the first day of spring practice and first day of fall camp training practice. Those are my two favorite days of the year."
While plenty of talk this week will be spent on the battle for the starting quarterback position and the emergence of potential newcomers, part of Harbaugh's meeting with media inevitably turned to the loud backlash of Michigan's trip to the Sunshine State.
Harbaugh says he doesn't remember when he first thought of the idea but maintains the intention is a major positive for the student-athletes.
"I don’t know how many months it was (when I thought of it) to be honest with you," Harabaugh said, "but it just felt like it would be good for our football team."
With many critics unable to see or appreciate the neat opportunity it provides for the current members of the football team, most notably SEC commissioner Greg Sankey, Harbaugh shed light on the focus and the fun that'll take place all week long.
"They are going over to the beach today," Harbaugh said. "There is lunch over there today, but we want to be the team that has first spring break in a first class manner as well.
"That is a goal for us. That is what a goal was and one of the goals we want to do have a sober healthy productive spring break."
One fact Harbaugh continues to deny is the very obvious recruiting advantage Michigan's week long spring practice gives the Wolverines at one of the best high school football programs the nation has to offer.
While the SEC maintains the reason for the pushback is due to concerns over time requirements and limitations for student-athletes, the reality is recruiting is the main reason coaches within the conference are in a tizzy.
Despite the fact that practices are open for high school coaches to attend all week long, not to mention top recruits will also be permitted to watch during the open practice Friday, Harbaugh says he doesn't see a recruiting advantage for the Wolverines.
"I don’t know if there is one," he said.
First year Georgia coach Kirby Smart was one of the SEC coaches particularly outspoken about Harbaugh's spring practice venture. Asked if he understands why southern coaches are so critical of this idea, the answer was a stern, "no."
"I don't know why," Harbaugh said. "Our tennis team is going to be hitting balls here this week as a matter of fact."
Michigan's headman appears genuinely unfazed by the southern discontent. After addressing the media He quickly shifted his attention to shooting the breeze with Dick Vitale who had dropped by practice. The legendary college basketball analyst donned a new Michigan hat and even tool time to give Harbaugh advice on improving his jump shot.
Video by Sam Webb.