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Michigan’s cool-hand Harbaugh preaches practice

Jim Harbaugh is a rock star — but does that give Michigan an edge over upset machine Wisconsin? (AP/Tony Ding)

Where in the world is Jim Harbaugh?

He’s fresh off a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. That was preceded by an appearance in a video by Bay Area rapper Bailey, where the Michigan coach chanted his family’s mantra: “Who’s got it better than us? Nobody.’’

On Monday, Harbaugh was at the Hyatt McCormick Place for Big Ten media day, where he gave some takes on his exciting life as well as his highly regarded football team.

And he did it in that low-keyed, matter-of-fact style that either delights or irritates, but seldom leaves people neutral.

“The reaction has been very good,’’ Harbaugh said of the rap video. “I’ve gotten mutiple texts, phone calls, comments from people that really liked it. I think the cool people liked it.’’

That’s how he believes he’s perceived—when he thinks about that sort of thing.

“I think the cool people like me,’’ Harbaugh said. “I think the less uptight people like me.’’

Harbaugh, who likes to go casual, donned the Big Ten-required coat and tie, but added a Michigan ballcap to his ensemble.

“I just felt more comfortable with the hat,’’ he said. “And I like the M. The skinny M.’’

Next up is the big match at the Big House between Real Madrid and Chelsea. Two of Europe’s most iconic soccer teams will square off Saturday in Michigan Stadium. And Harbaugh will be a spectator in the stadium where he played and now coaches.

“I’ll be rooting for the team that plays the hardest to win,’’ he said.

The Wolverines are coming off a solid 10-3 start in Harbaugh’s first season that has expectations soaring for this season. Michigan and arch-rival Ohio State are a virtual pick-‘em to win the Big Ten and earn a berth in the College Football Playoff.

It’s no secret that Harbaugh doesn’t like to lose.

So it should come as no surprise that he wasn’t pleased with his weekend performance at the American Century Championship. He tied for 62nd in the field of 82 celebrity golfers.

“That experience, I wouldn’t call it fun,’’ he said. “My wife and my kids expected that I was going to win the tournament. I told them that I wasn’t, that if you don’t practice something, you don’t have a chance to win.’’

That idea of dedication to practice and improvement was big Harbaugh theme at the Hyatt, where the Big Ten will hold its annual kickoff luncheon on Tuesday.

For all the pots he stirs on Twitter, for all the unconventional ways in which he makes headlines, Harbaugh remains at heart a very talented and focused coach.

“Can we get one percent better each day?’’ he said. “If you do it day after day, a little bit better each day, that improvement is going to be there for the long run.’’

That’s really what Harbaugh is all about—dedication to improving and winning.

“I’ve known him for a long time,’’ said former Bears coach Dave Wannstedt, who’s now a broadcaster. “I coached him for a year with the Bears. I felt like he’d have success at Michigan, but do it his own way is really very unique. That’s what gets my attention. He’s encompassed the history of Bo [Schembechler] and Michigan. He was part of it. But at the same time, he was still his very own guy.’’

And that isn’t going to change—win or lose.

Follow me on Twitter @HerbGould.