I need good students, tough guys- Jim Harbaugh
ALL IT TAKES IS ALL YA GOT- JOHN DUERR
John Duerr’s childhood was in Southern California, but he graduated from St. Alphonsus High School in Dearborn, Mich., before walking on at Michigan. Duerr lives in Auburn Hills and works for Chappell Steel Co. in Detroit.
Hardly a day goes by that somebody—a customer of mine, a friend, whoever—doesn’t ask, “Well, is Harbaugh going to do it? Is he going to get that place turned around?” The answer is yes, not because he coached in the NFL or because he coached at Stanford. It’s because of what he learned at Michigan. One thing I know for a fact is you’re going to see effort, tenacity. You’re not going to see guys mail in a block. Just like we learned from Bo, you’re not going to see guys start game in and game out if they aren’t performing. That has happened a little bit too much for our liking. I’m sure that Jim learned it from his dad, and all of the coaches that he was around, and his older brother, John—everything that he absorbed when he was a kid.
I was there with Jim three years, and under Bo for four. I went on to coach high school football. Everything that I know about football, I learned from those guys, the same teachers that Jim had. Now, he is 1,000 times more advanced than I am, but I don’t care what level you’re at—you’ve got to be tough. You’ve got to bust your butt. You can’t mail in a block. You can’t sulk. Those are the things that Jim learned. That’s why
Michigan football is going to be good, because they’re going to do it the right way. There is no alternative.
We had seven-on-sevens in the summer of ‘86, and we had off-season workouts. There wasn’t a lot of talking. It was just go do it. You were expected to do it. Go do it. Guys like Harbaugh and Jim Scarcelli, they held people accountable. You didn’t even need the coaches around. Those guys would make sure that you were living up to the standard, and if you weren’t, they were going to call you out. That was the thing that made all of these guys who played at Michigan successful in winning titles like they did.
My junior year, we played in Hawaii after the Ohio State game. Scarcelli and Harbaugh and I were at a place, and he asked these girls at the bar, “You know who that guy looks like? Who does that look like?” He says I look like Huey Lewis, so he liked to introduce me as Huey Lewis’ cousin.
Jim’s senior year—it would have been the ’86 season— right around the time when we started camp. At that time, we voted on captains. We’re at dinner in South Quad. We’re at dinner with all of the guys—you just gravitate to the guys that you hang out with, whether it’s your roommate or guys who play the same position as you. I always ate with the same guys, the Stites brothers, Don Lessner, Scott Harrala, Kyle Anderson, this group of walk-ons. We’re sitting at our same dinner table that we sat at all of the time. Lo and behold, Harbaugh pulls up a chair to eat with us. Well, we both were captains a few days after that. We all thought that was peculiar, that he would choose that day to sit down with a bunch of walk-ons. The Stites boys called him out and he swore he was just looking for a place to sit.
When Harbaugh was coaching at San Diego, there was a guy I worked with whose grandson was a good football player. I emailed Jim and said, “Hey, I got a guy here that might be the guy you’re looking for.” Jim emailed back, “I need tough guys. I need good students, tough guys.” The kid ended up playing lacrosse for Penn State.
I teach my kids things Bo taught me and things I learned playing football as part of a team—the whole team concept. I preach to my kids that you have to remember that the world doesn’t revolve around you. At some point, you’re going to be part of a company or a team, and you’re going to be responsible for a certain aspect that the whole team’s success is based on you doing your job. It doesn’t matter what job you have. It doesn’t matter what company you work for. It doesn’t matter what you do. You have a responsibility for the betterment of the team, and if you don’t do your job, the team is not going to succeed. I’m glad that I got that experience around those people, in that stadium, on that campus. Michigan runs through my blood, and I try to pass it onto my kids.
I still hang out with those guys, those walk-ons that I told you about, that sat at the table where Harbaugh came. Those guys, we all still hang out. If I’m up in Ann Arbor, I’ll call and we’ll go to lunch. One of the guys lives in Cincinatti, and when I’m down there on business, I stay at his place. The other guy is here locally and we go and hunt together. On November 15, all of us get together over by Grand Rapids and have hunt camp. I bring my son and he gets to enjoy these guys that I played football with 30 years ago. I wouldn’t trade a second of what we had to do to make it. These guys mean that much to me. The experience that we went through together means that much. I love them.
The greatest play I ever saw Harbaugh make was that 77-yard TD pass to John Kolesar in ‘85 against Ohio State. He stood there in the pocket and took a shot right in the head as he released the ball. Kolesar was running toward the north end zone and caught that ball. That’s the loudest I have ever heard Michigan Stadium. That was beautiful, man. That play was just phenomenal. What a great pass, under pressure, in a big game like that. Man.
My old teammate, Mike Reinhold, was moved from linebacker to nose guard. He said, “You know the difference between linebacker and nose guard? Nose guard is you’re at a party every day that you ain’t invited to.” I never forgot that line. I used to tell that to every kid I had who played nose guard: “You’re going to a party and you ain’t invited.” He was a good guy. Reiny was a good guy.
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