May 30, 2024

Is it shocking that Jim Harbaugh was suspended? And how did Michigan react? Big Ten journalists offer their opinions

The Big Ten suspended Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh from the sidelines for games until the end of the regular season as punishment for Michigan’s in-person scouting and sign-stealing scandal, in one of college football’s most memorable Friday news dumps ever. The university verified that Harbaugh is not in attendance and that his attempt to obtain a temporary restraining order prior to Saturday’s Michigan-Penn State kickoff was unsuccessful.

Reporters Audrey Snyder, Scott Dochterman, Mitch Sherman, Cameron Teague Robinson, and Jesse Temple of The Athletic’s Big Ten beat team offer their perspectives from across the conference.


Jim Harbaugh will be suspended and won’t play for Michigan against PSU.

How did Friday feel in State College?

Beat reporter Audrey Snyder of Penn State:Happy Valley was a memorable scene. Prior to the arrival of Michigan’s aircraft at State College Regional Airport on Friday afternoon, hotel staff in the State College area made efforts to dissuade spectators from entering the Wolverines’ hotel. This was around the same time that the Big Ten approved Jim Harbaugh’s suspension.

Signage warning guests and golfers on the nearby golf course to stay away was posted all over the hotel that is acting as Michigan’s headquarters on the road. The players’ and employees’ room keys were arranged, and blue and maize banners were hung all over the hotel to indicate theteam’s different conference spaces. There was a temporary training room set up off the lobby, and it was obvious that Michigan was going to take over the entire hotel.

Before Harbaugh and his players arrived, everyone else was asked to vacate the area and keep their distance.

There’s a big telescope in the lobby and beautiful views of Happy Valley in the area where Harbaugh is probably going to be spending a little more time this weekend. It’s conveniently close to Beaver Stadium and one of the better options in the neighbourhood. As the Michigan players boarded buses at the airport, a number of reporters were waiting for them to arrive, bringing a lot of extra attention to Happy Valley.

As they rode from the airport, past Beaver Stadium, and in the direction of the hotel, a lot of people stopped to stare. Everyone was stuck in traffic, trying to get a glimpse of the head coach, who was

on one of the numerous buses that are emblazoned with the University of Michigan name and have tinted windows.

Before kickoff on Saturday morning, we’ll see how things go. In light of Harbaugh’s suspension, a Michigan coach told our Bruce Feldman that the team is “Laser focused.”

According to our poll, 94% of CFB coaches believe Michigan should be punished. What else did it disclose?

What response did Big Ten universities give the news?

Mitch Sherman, beat reporter for Nebraska:When questioned early this week about events at Michigan, Nebraska coach Matt Rhule felt compelled to stand up for his players. In Lincoln on September 30, Michigan defeated the Huskers 45-7; the humiliating loss prompted an uncommon full-contact Sunday practise on October 1.

When his players step onto the pitch, Rhule stated, he is searching for equity. According to Rhule, the players in Lincoln heard Ryan Walters, the Purdue coach, mention video evidence that went viral online last week, proving the Wolverines’ cheating, and they turned to the rookie Nebraska coach for answers.

his reply.

Rhule answered thus. “I really feel like I should speak up for them,” Without addressing the Michigan coach, Rhule offered a meekly veiled refutation of the notion that Harbaugh could have been working behind closed doors on a signal-stealing plot.

“We travel with every coaching analyst on our staff, and they all work,” Rhule stated. “I’m making a lot of effort here. I can only speak for our group here. I want to never belittle other people or their teams. I’ve been that person when everyone else is making fun of you.

Nebraska owns its loss versus Michigan, according to Rhule. He made no indication that the game’s outcome was altered by tampered signals.

The coach refuted those claims. I simply want the game to last for 60 minutes, that’s all. Additionally, if we play a big game and recruits from across the nation show up, the game gets

ugly rapidly… those children glance at me.

Michigan’s lead over Nebraska at the half was 28-0.

Reporter Scott Dochterman, covering Iowa beat:Iowa, which would have suffered twice as a result of Michigan’s alleged signal-stealing scheme, is one of the most resentful institutions. The Big Ten championship game in 2021 marked the first occasion. A Big Ten head coach reportedly told an assistant, “Michigan has got all of your signals,” at 3:30 p.m. on the day of the championship game, according to an Iowa source.

The Iowa assistant had only learned about it that day, and the Big Ten head coach expressed regret for not telling her sooner. Iowa might not have cared in a 42-3 Michigan victory, but it was too late to alter its signals.

It would matter a great deal in 2022. At Kinnick Stadium, Michigan hadn’t triumphed since 2005. In a closely contested match, the Wolverines won 27–14. It was not unusual that the Hawkeyes struggled to generate much offensive against the Michigan defence. However, it’s possible that the Wolverines scored a point or two on each drive. Michigan, in any case, was the superior team that day.

Nevertheless, throughout this whole situation, Iowa officials have said very little. In private discussions, Iowa coaches were aware of it.

but doubted their ability to put an end to it. Yes, it was well known, one assistant wrote in a text. There won’t be any events. The lowly guy will be the one to fall.

Kirk Ferentz, the Iowa coach, dismissed it this week. A week ago, Ferentz skipped the Big Ten conference calls to get ready for a game against Northwestern, and interim athletics director Beth Goetz was attending a meeting of the Presidential Committee on Athletics.

“I don’t have much to say,” Ferentz stated on Tuesday. “I perused a single article. Every now and then I glance at the headlines. The other night, I read something about how they were obsessed with figuring out who might have reported whom, which, in my opinion, pretty much sums up where we are at the moment. Like, it makes no difference who reported whom. If there is a problem, it is the problem and not anything else. That kind of piqued my interest.

Snyder: James Franklin avoided answering questions for the entire week. Even on Thursday night, when a listener questioned him about it, Franklin promised to do everything within his power to steer the conversation in a different direction. With a playful question, he

how the individual consumes coffee.

Franklin did, however, note that Penn State has more than 700 signals on offence and that, at this stage of the season, he would be concerned about players confusing signals and leading to missed assignments if they changed them. When signal stealing was first brought up last month, Franklin stated that the staff constantly assesses how they’re hiding their signals. He wouldn’t place the blame squarely on Michigan at the time, but he did admit that Penn State had “made some changes” to the offensive and defensive signals.

On October 24, Franklin stated, “For us, that’s something that we always are looking at.” “But it’s obvious that it’s magnified by some of the current events.”

In a video the team uploaded on X following practise this week, Penn State’s defensive coordinator Manny Diaz even seemed to be having a little fun with it. He tapped his wrist, ear and held up three fingers before saying, “Those are the signals for get there early, be loud — especially on third down.”

The word choice was undoubtedly deliberate.


When questioned on Monday at his news conference about Harbaugh and whether or not he expected him to coach on Saturday, even Franklin may have taken a subtle jab: “I’m concentrating on allThe things I watch on films. Their plots, plays, and everything. Please refer to the coaches’ copy of the film when I say “see on film.” We are concentrating on the activities occurring between the 53 and a third.

Yes, the coaches’ copy.

Wisconsin beat reporter Jesse Temple:Wisconsin hasn’t discussed Michigan’s situation much because the Badgers are playing without the Wolverines this season and are led by a new coaching staff. When the two teams last faced off in 2021, Michigan prevailed 38-17 thanks to 25 straight points in the second half. Wisconsin had prevailed 84-25 overall in the two prior meetings between the two teams in 2019 and 2020.

Phil Longo, the offensive coordinator for Wisconsin in his first season, said that his signals have a built-in defensive mechanism to handle possible steal attempts. He calls plays from the sideline alone.

“We’re not worried about it now because we’ve never had a problem with it before,” Longo stated. “WeAny week that we feel like the matter comes up, we talk about it. Naturally, we won’t take any action that we believe will negatively impact our football team. Thus, you take whatever necessary action.

Beat reporter for Ohio State Cameron Teague Robinson:At least when it comes to the public, Ohio State has been radio silent.

The extent of Ryan Day’s involvement in the investigation has been discussed extensively. He has, of course, fielded a plethora of questions about everything and has almost always declined to comment.

On Wednesday, however, he made a statement. Day denied knowing any specifics when asked if he or anyone else on the staff had discussed Michigan’s signs with Purdue during the Big Ten Championship Game the previous year, a decision that would have had a direct effect on Ohio State.

“As of right now, none of the people here have done any of that. We went over everything and made sure to get our compliance personnel and ask all the questions.involved, and absolutely none of that was recovered,” he remarked. “I can say with absolute certainty that that did not occur.”

When questioned further about when Ohio State investigated the allegations, Day responded, “I’m not going to comment anymore on it.” That’s all Ohio State has to say.

It took the Buckeyes eight straight victories over Michigan before they suffered defeats in 2021 and 2022. We’re not sure if sign-stealing was significant enough to account for a 15-point or 22-point difference in 2021 and 2022. However, Ohio State will not comment at this time on any Michigan-related matters. By all accounts, its main goal is to defeat Minnesota and Michigan State in order to go to Michigan unbeaten. Ultimately, regardless of whether Michigan has pilfered signs in the previous two years, nothing they say will matter if Ohio State defeats them this season.

regarding the subject matters.

Do you find the Big Ten’s punishment surprising?

Sherman: Oh, not at all. Commissioner Tony Petitti of the Big Ten had sufficient evidence to take action. It was not necessary for the league to directly accuse Harbaugh in order to penalise the football programme. It’s not hard to understand. Since Harbaugh is in command, he bears the loss. I think Michigan is lucky that the Big Ten will let Harbaugh coach in both the College Football Playoff and, if the Wolverines win in Indianapolis, the conference championship game.

The penalty could have been worse, in actuality. I anticipate that the upcoming games won’t be significantly affected by his suspension. It includes three significant days. He can lead the Wolverines from Sunday to Friday, getting them ready for the upcoming big games. The Friday decision will invigorate Michigan.

participants. They will be able to let go of the uncertainty that has pervaded them for the past few weeks.

Had Harbaugh been told to avoid his players while they were getting ready for Maryland and Ohio State, this penalty would have been far more severe.

Dochterman:It has surprised me a little. In his six months with the Big Ten, Petitti has handled a number of significant situations, but this one might have the most long-term effects. You’re speaking about the league’s two-time defending champion, who has a fantastic chance to qualify for the playoffs for the third time in a row. The Big Ten has not won the CFP since the inaugural 2014 season, but Michigan has a good chance of doing so. Making this choice the day before a top-10 matchup with Penn State requires guts.

I kept wondering how the Big Ten was going to punish Michigan during this ordeal without hurting its chances of winning a league or national championship. I assumed that the selection for one game would be made the following week, making itpunish Harbaugh without preventing him from playing in the Ohio State game. It appears that Petitti made a tooth-based decision. This will be the result for the duration of his employment.

Robinson Teague:Not so much on the penalty. The moment? Indeed. The Big Ten claimed it couldn’t prove Harbaugh knew, so in my opinion, it doesn’t matter if he did or not. As the program’s leader and head coach, Harbaugh is compensated to be aware of current events. He will be the one to bear the consequences.

However, I did not anticipate that the Big Ten would collapse the evening before a top-10 game at Penn State. I believed Harbaugh was safe once he boarded the aircraft. Petitti didn’t seem to care that it was the topic of conversation leading up to the noon kickoff, which surprised me. It was simple to toss the can down the

road to next week and give him a two-game suspension.

On Saturday, we’ll see how it affects the team. It won’t do much, though, in my opinion. The entire week preceding the games, he is still permitted to coach, and Michigan has already had this season’s experience playing without its head coach.

Temple: As calls for punishment grew, it seemed only a matter of time until the Big Ten took action in this case. In his 13-page letter to school officials, Petitti described a “organised, extensive, years-long in-person advance scouting scheme”; how could the head coach be unaware of it? Let Harbaugh have the benefit of the doubt; after all, he is the programme manager.

It’s crazy that Harbaugh is serving his second three-game suspension of the season. Even if Michigan wins, this is a tale that won’t be forgotten anytime soon as the Wolverines prepare for a crucial matchup with Penn State. Given everything that has happened at Michigan, it’s difficult to think that Harbaugh will be around after this season.has taken place.

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