Tuesday February 24th, 2015

With the Brady Hoke era firmly in the past, Michigan began practicing for the first time of the new year on Tuesday. That meant Jim Harbaugh got to get to work, and man, was he excited.

Following a bitter end to his tenure with the San Francisco 49ers, Harbaugh has shown glimpses of a more... endearing personality since returning to coach his alma mater. His Twitter thoughts of the day have been incredible, his lamenting the lack of Cracker Barrel restaurants in California was entertaining and his story of eating cereal with Gatorade because he was out of milk was, well, gross. But still entertaining.

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Speaking to Michigan's website on Monday, one day before practice, that weirdness kicked into high gear.

Q. Tomorrow's the first day of practice. You're going to have a whistle around your neck and a team to coach here for the first time at the place where you played. What are your thoughts and emotions?

A. It's like Thanksgiving. It's like New Year's Day. It's like a family reunion. And having it all rolled into one. Most people think of January 1st as the start of a new year. To people who espouse to Catholicism and Christianity, they might correlate that with the birth of Christ. Us in football, the start of spring practice and the first day of summer training camp are what you look at as the New Year with fireworks going off, it's your birthday. It's being born back into football, it's a happening.

Q. So it's the birth of a new team?

A. Yeah, it's like coming out of the mother's womb. You're in a nice, warm, cozy environment -- safe. And now you are out into the chaos and bright lights. It's a happening. It's all those things rolled into one.

And it's also like the first day of school. You're so excited for that first day of school, and the night before you set out your clothes, you stuff your lunch into a lunch box, and off you go. It's the start. It's laying down a benchmark. Now we have a place to start from. We have a place to improve from. We have a place to go forward from, and you hope to lay that benchmark halfway up the mountain -- and not way down on the flat land.

Now that's excitement. We're just waiting to see how Harbaugh can top it.

Michigan will hold spring practices through April 4, the day of its spring game.

Mike Fiammetta

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