WATCH or READ: Michigan football national championship morning after press conference

HOUSTON — You can officially hang that mission accomplished banner because, after all of the consternation, trials and tribulations this season, Michigan football won the college football national championship.

After achieving a program-best 15-0 record, the Wolverines finally earned what they thought they would get when they hired Jim Harbaugh on Dec. 30, 2014. Nine seasons later, the maize and blue are on the mountaintop.

On little sleep, head coach Jim Harbaugh, running back Blake Corum and cornerback Will Johnson met with the media to discuss the perfect season. You can watch the entire thing below or read everything they said below that.

Scroll down to read more!

Opening statement

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

JIM HARBAUGH: Just really happy, excited. I want to thank the CFP. The entire week this week, last week, everything conducive to getting our team ready to play.

I want to congratulate Washington. Kalen DeBoer, fantastic coach, and their staff, all their players. They competed so hard. Played so well. And our guys, too.

Just a real credit to the game of football, and proud of our guys for coming out on top.

On Donovan Edwards' performance

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

BLAKE CORUM: He kicked it off nice and early, with two — I think it’s the first time ever in the CFP era that someone had two 40-yard touchdowns. And Donovan deserved it. Donovan deserved it. ‘The Don’ is back. I loved seeing it. Shout-out to Don. I love him a lot.

On Jim Harbaugh proclaiming the team's innocence

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

JIM HARBAUGH: People asked how we dealt with the distractions, and that was one of the ways we dealt with it. We knew we were innocent. We stood tall, upright and innocent.

Can Michigan football run it back in 2024?

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

WILL JOHNSON: Yeah, definitely. I mean, we had a great group of guys that will be back next year that are super talented in my class, and other guys that will come back, too. So I’m just ready to keep enjoying this while I can and get back to work whenever we get started again.

BLAKE CORUM: Yeah, I definitely think the guys will run it back. They know what it takes. They know what it’s like. And something coach Harbaugh always says is don’t get a big head. And none of the guys on the team will have a big head after this win.

Obviously we’ll enjoy the moment right now, but the guys will be ready to go back to work with coach Herb and with their coaches. And I definitely believe the Wolverines will be back.

What Jim Harbaugh would change about college football?

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

JIM HARBAUGH: The thing I would change about college football is to let the talent share in the ever-increasing revenues. We’re all robbing the same train. And the ones that are in the position to do the heavy lifting, the ones that risk life and limb out there on the football field are the players.

And not just football players, student-athletes. The organizations are fighting hard to keep all the money — the universities, the NCAA, the conferences. And it’s long past time to let the student-athletes share in the ever-increasing revenues.

I mean, it’s billions. I keep reading facts about how much money is being made. I mean, product placement. I can’t have a can of a different kind of soda up here. I have to put it into a cup here. (Laughter).

I mean, everybody, they’re maximizing every single revenue source there is, but they’re not sharing it with the talent. There’s no business that that would ever fly. I mean, the Supreme Court has said the same thing. So, yeah, that’s a big one. I would change that one.

And there needs to be a voice for the young people, the student-athletes. Right now there is no voice. I mean, there are armies of attorneys, and I’ve seen them at the NCAA, I’ve seen them at the universities, the conferences.

And then if they don’t have enough firepower legally, they go out, hire the tall-building law firms and they get more firepower.

But there’s no voice for the student-athletes right now, and it just needs to change. That’s a wrong that needs to be righted. Starting to compile a list of just the excuses that people give for not — it’s complicated. What about this? What about that?

All I know is there’s plenty there. There’s some — I have simple math. Anybody that’s profiting off the student-athletes, me included; anybody who is drawing a salary, making a livelihood, a lot of people sitting here robbing the same train as well that it could take 5 to 10 percent less of what they’re getting.

Every organization, universities, a lot of them are collecting money tax-free. At least if you give it to these guys and it will go back to the economy through taxes.

The NCAA, conference commissioner, Big Ten office, all the conferences, 5 to 10 percent into a pool, that’s one way.

And things happened fast this year. You saw it. People say it’s complicated or it takes time. We saw a lot of change in one year, just this year. A whole conference went into the portal overnight.

These things could happen. Hopefully there will be some real — I mean, for a long time people say that unionizing would be bad. If people aren’t going to do it — if they’re not going to do it out of their own goodwill and do what’s right, that’s probably the next step.

I have nothing against unions. That’s the next step, fellas. I think that’s the way you’ve gotta go. That’s what I’d like to see change in college athletics.

Does Harbaugh remember what Biff Poggi (then Blake Corum's high school coach) told him about Corum at that time?

2020 Baltimore (<a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Maryland;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Maryland</a>) St. Frances Academy four-star RB Blake Corum. Photo: Isaiah Hole
2020 Baltimore (Maryland) St. Frances Academy four-star RB Blake Corum. Photo: Isaiah Hole

JIM HARBAUGH: There wasn’t one person who didn’t have something great to say about Blake Corum during the recruiting process. Everybody he came in contact with, teachers at the school — you could go back to the grade school coaches. Biff loved him like a son. Coach Desai (phonetic), everybody. And counselors, everybody.

And get to see it for your own eyes. Man, they don’t come any better. This is as good as they come. The same with Will. They’re just stalwarts.

BLAKE CORUM: Thank you, Coach.

JIM HARBAUGH: And really everything that their parents, both of these parents poured into Will, poured into Blake, poured in a great work ethic, discipline.

And there’s an empathy side to both of these young men that’s very rare when it comes to a stalwart, a competitor, but also they care about other things than just themselves.

Two great ones. People talk about the younger generation and what’s the next generation going to be like, and it’s going to be the demise of the culture. But we’re in really good hands. We’re in really good hands with guys like Will Johnson and Blake Corum and all the players, all the youngsters that I come in contact with on a daily basis.

Has Harbaugh accomplished his overall mission?

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

JIM HARBAUGH: It’s been a team effort all the way. Nothing fancy. No surprises. Just good old-fashioned, roll-up-your-sleeve hard work and teamwork, and it’s been a beautiful thing. So often the goal is to, you’re chasing perfection, and it’s hard to be perfect.

And it rarely comes around. You hope to achieve excellence along the way. But, gosh, it’s perfect. It was a perfect 15-0.

Congratulations. It wasn’t just resolution, guys just talking about it, it was repetition, daily repetition. Good, old-fashioned hard work and teamwork.

Will Houston always hold a special place in their hearts?

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

BLAKE CORUM: 100%. 100%. This is the best game — I’ve been playing ball since 6, and this is the most fun season, first of all. Team 144 is a very special team. And when we talk about brotherhood, Team 144 is the definition of brotherhood.

But that game yesterday, that goes down as the greatest game I’ve ever played in because of who I played in it with. And definitely Houston will be remembered forever.

WILL JOHNSON: Definitely. It’s my first time being out here. But like Blake said, just having these memories with my teammates, just enjoying these last days we had with this team 144, it’s meant a lot, meant everything. And that game, I’m still trying to grasp everything that happened yesterday. But it’s a great feeling.

JIM HARBAUGH: Likewise, we had a great time here January of ’21 with the family, Sarah and the kids. We were here for the Bear Bryant Award, and our little guy Johnny, he wants to be an astronaut now because of that experience and going to NASA.

Yeah, this definitely takes it to an even other level. Hospitality was tremendous. Just great. Just great. And I know all of our family and our parents, extended family and the Michigan football family, we were all treated top-notch. Everybody was real good to us and it was great down here in Houston.

And we had a great time. Loved it. Definitely have a special place in our hearts going forward, me personally.

And Nico, great to see Nico. We were here watching the game. Congratulations to the Texans, to coach DeMeco. We watched that game.

And it was cool to watch Nico go crazy in that game. Every time he threw the ball he caught it, every target, every catch, those touchdowns. Cool to see him wearing the letter jacket after the game, all of it.

And so many guys, so many former players, Michigan football players. I know Mazi was here. Hassan and Jabrill.


JIM HARBAUGH: Olu. And Michael Onwenu.


JIM HARBAUGH: Jared Wangler.


JIM HARBAUGH: Warms the cockles of your heart for them to come back and share that, and all the contributions, too. There’s so many guys that made so many contributions — players, coaches, staff. We went through a lot of things.

Getting to the CFP and not winning that kind of thing, some of those games. 2016, coming up, we thought that measurement was short, the fourth down, we thought.

But sometimes you’ve got to go through those things. You’ve got to go through things to get where you are. Meant to be. Just lean on the counsel of God and the holy spirit. And there’s a time, a time and a place.

Our guys have never flinched, though, and never rejected the moment. There’s a time to live. There’s a time to die. But there’s never a time to reject the moment. That’s one thing you can say about every single Michigan football team that I’ve coached since I’ve been here. The guys have always given it their best and had at it. And this team, Team 144, you know how I feel about them, I think. They are “the team.” Great.

Would Harbaugh talk with the NCAA, Charlie Baker about his ideas for changes?

NCAA president Charlie Baker speaks during College Athlete Day at the White House.
NCAA president Charlie Baker speaks during College Athlete Day at the White House.

JIM HARBAUGH: Yeah, anybody. I think they know my number. (Laughter).

But definitely, Debbie Dingell, talking to many. Fred Upton has had a lot of interest in it. And just friends, just trying to form people to talk about this and really just get on the side of the players. Coaches, hopefully they’ll use their voice. More people. Just more. It’s one thing we know. We need more for this cause.

What does Corum want his Michigan football legacy to be?

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

BLAKE CORUM: The way I want to be remembered is I just want to be remembered as a Michigan man, someone who did good on the field but also did good in the community, did good in the classroom and laid a foundation for the next generation.

When I pass away, I honestly don’t want to be remembered for a touchdown record or anything like that, but more so just a kind human being that brought smiles to people’s faces and just made a difference, made an impact on and off the field. That’s honestly how I want to be remembered.

And talking about the journey, it was a great journey, just from where we started freshman year during COVID to where we are now, it was truly a great process, a great learning experience.

And for me, going down last year, and in my mind I just felt like I was helpless during the TCU game. It was a great journey.

I grew as a man and football player, and most importantly I grew as a leader, which I think has helped Team 144 get to where we are today, along with the rest of the leaders on the team.

So I’ve embraced every part of this, and I just want to thank coach Harbaugh for everything he’s done. Best coach in the nation. I’m so glad I’ve been coached by him for the last four years.

What's the atmosphere waiting back home in Ann Arbor?

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

BLAKE CORUM: Electric.

JIM HARBAUGH: Yeah, pretty excited about that. Hearing some good things. Parade, I think everybody wants a parade. Talking to the players, what do you guys want? What do you want to do to celebrate this? Have a parade. Who doesn’t love a parade?

BLAKE CORUM: Who doesn’t?

How do players handle the Harbaugh to the NFL rumors?

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

WILL JOHNSON: There’s a reason they’re so interested in him. He’s a great coach. He deserves to be looked at in that light. But I’m not too worried about it. I trust whatever decision he makes is best for him and best for the team, and I’m just trying to enjoy where we are right now and worry about anything like that when the time comes.

BLAKE CORUM: Yeah, you know.

JIM HARBAUGH: They’re not asking you, Blake. They’re asking you, Will.

BLAKE CORUM: Like Will said, coach Harbaugh is such a phenomenal coach, and if you look up just his legacy as a player and as a coach, he’s won everywhere he’s gone. And maybe it took a couple years, but Coach at the end of the day is a winning coach. And he’s won every single place he’s been to.

And so who wouldn’t want him? Who has it better than coach Harbaugh? Nobody. When things come up like that, we’re like, hey, Coach, you’ve got to do what’s best for you.

But we stick to the task at hand. When have you a great coach like that, everyone wants a piece of you. I’m just glad the University of Michigan has coach Harbaugh.

What would Bo Schembechler's reaction in heaven be?

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

JIM HARBAUGH: So much. I think about that, I think about Bo Schembechler in heaven him looking down. I think there’s some things he’d be talking about coming off the ball with lower pad level. (Laughter).

But I think he would be really pleased. Rushed the ball for, like, 300 yards. He’d really love Blake Corum. He would love him like we do. Makes you feel good.

Other things, I mean to get to a thousand wins this year, that was such a thing. We were just for a couple years now we’ve been counting that down. To do it this year, do it in this fashion, now have 1,004 wins — no team’s won more.

It’s in the video that we — my dad Jack and I wrote back in like 2015, that James Earl Jones narrated. No team has won more. No high school team has got to a thousand wins. No pro football team, no college team.

That’s something that 144 years of players, coaches, staff, we feel that — we know contributed to that, and we’re very proud of that. To get there first, it was a race. It was a challenge.

And our guys stepped up to it with aplomb. Many things. Just happy and proud. And Go Blue. The guys did a job, and did it great.

What's the next challenge in Jim Harbaugh's career?

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

JIM HARBAUGH: Back to it’s always — it’s either people want to look at the past or look at the future. Definitely going to just enjoy this, as Blake said. This is one of those moments where it was a great feeling last night.

And as good is the one waking up this morning. This wasn’t a dream. That was real. We’re national champs. And we’re going to look forward to the happy flight back to Ann Arbor today, and the parade. Haven’t been in too many parades. That will be fun. Going to enjoy that. Really looking forward to it.

Reflecting on the day Jim Harbaugh was announced as Michigan football head coach

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

JIM HARBAUGH: It was the best. It felt the best. It was great to see all our families down there shoulder to shoulder. Hugged my dad and he hugged me so hard. His head like cut the bridge of my nose, my glasses — I should have took my glasses off. But it felt great.

Mom, brother, sister, brother-in-law, sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews, just everybody, all the families together was beautiful, a beautiful thing. Felt great.

I remember it well. It was a very cold, wintry day. Temperatures in the minuses. But what a day. We loved the changes of the seasons in Ann Arbor. Love these guys. Love the way they rise to the challenge.

They never get bitter; they get better. Just a great time. A lot of things you’re thinking about, nostalgia and things, and just a really good feeling. Thank you for the question.

How hard were the first six seasons being the Michigan football coach and not winning as he is now?

Photo: Isaiah Hole
Photo: Isaiah Hole

JIM HARBAUGH: I don’t know. I don’t know how hard they were. I never really looked at it as hard. They were joyful days. I wouldn’t have changed a thing. I have a few regrets, but just a few. And just some of the best times. Some of the best times.

Like I said last night, what an exclamation point our guys put on this season. Took on all comers. We were the last ones standing. Feels great to be the champs, and I get — in my own family, to be — my dad won a national championship. My brother’s won a Super Bowl. And it’s really cool. I feel like I can hold my head up high now. At least be at their same level, not sit at the kids’ table anymore, get to join the big person’s table.

You feel like you’re the only guy. Not anymore. So, yeah, it feels great, too.

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire