Ohio week is “very exciting” Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday, even though he’ll be watching it from somewhere other than the U-M sideline. He’ll miss his third game in a row and sixth overall, suspended as part of former analyst Connor Stalion’s on-site scouting operation.
Though the NCAA has acknowledged there’s no evidence of direct Harbaugh involvement, it decided the best way to punish Michigan was to go after its head coach. And while the NCAA has also said there is “no known connection” between Ohio State and the private investigation firm that gave damaging information to the press, Michigan strongly believes otherwise and is working to prove it.
It was no surprise, then, that Harbaugh dodged the question when asked about his relationship with Ohio State coach Ryan Day.
“It’s all about our preparation for Ohio,” Harbaugh said. “The days, the minutes, the hours … everything leading up to this game. That’s where our focus is. Preparing ourselves and planning, practice, and then executing. Anything else is irrelevant when you get into this kind of big game week.”
Harbaugh watched the team beat Maryland, 31-24, at his brother John’s house in Baltimore (John Harbaugh, of course, is the NFL Ravens’ head coach). Harbaugh said he was impressed with what his players have been able to accomplish while trying to block out the outside noise.
“It was great to watch it with him,” Harbaugh continued. “What I saw was a great, glorious win. I’m really happy with the team. It’s good to be around his football mind, too … but we accomplished what we went there to do and got the mission done.
“It’s really a battle tested team, and empowering people. It’s really that. Empowering our coaches, empowering our players, and just an amazing job they’ve done. Amazing effort, the way our players have gone about things … coaches, players.
“I just think back over the last five, six weeks especially. It’s just kind of like a high-pitched siren, like deafening ear piercing noise, and just after a while you just start to tolerate it. Then before you know it, you just block it out. So, stay on course — that’s what our team has done. Just keep the priorities right and straight, which is faith, family, and football.”
He left the media laughing with one more quote from the Ted Lasso show.
“I go back to that … like the Ted Lasso show. Believe,” Harbaugh said. “What comes out of that is “believe.” I’m just so proud of our team. Despite that noise, our locker room is in one piece. Like Ted, for me, locker rooms are a lot like my mom’s bathing suits. I like to see them in one piece.
“We’ve got that, and it’s amazing. There are so many life lessons to be learned that our young guys are learning at this age. It’s how the world works. Keeping those priorities straight — faith, family, and football. Battle tested and ready to go, and now it’s just all Ohio. The week’s all about Ohio. We’re working really hard to get ready for this game using the hours, the minutes, the days to hone our focus, get prepared, plan, practice, and then go execute the game.”