Michigan football head coach Jim Harbaugh will serve a three-game self-imposed suspension, but was that the right call for the Wolverines?
When it was announced recently that negotiations broke off between Michigan football and the NCAA regarding Jim Harbaugh’s suspension, it looked like the whole saga might not impact the 2023 season.
How wrong we were.
Michigan football announced on Monday that it would impose a three-game suspension on Jim Harbaugh relating to the wrongdoing committed by the Wolverines staff.
Here’s what Warde Manuel said about the suspension which will cover the games against East Carolina, UNLV, and Bowling Green. Harbaugh will be allowed to coach during practice, just won’t be allowed to coach during games.
"“While the ongoing NCAA matter continues through the NCAA process, today’s announcement is our way of addressing mistakes that our department has agreed to in an attempt to further that process. We will continue to support coach Harbaugh, his staff, and our outstanding student-athletes. Per the NCAA’s guidelines, we cannot comment further until the matter is resolved.”"
The move, which you’d think had to be done with the approval of Jim Harbaugh, is still a little surprising. It’s probably the right move and the idea is that the NCAA will accept this self-imposed penalty instead of imposing its own, which could be as much as six games.
Harbaugh took it in stride, saying: “I will continue to do what I always do and what I always tell our players and my kids at home, don’t get bitter, get better.”
Was it the right move?
I’m torn on this question. Michigan football shouldn’t have any trouble winning the first three games on the schedule.
There has also been plenty of chatter that once this whole NCAA issue is over, Harbaugh can sign a new contract. I’ve never understood why the two were related, just like I’ve never understood why the Wolverines won’t get real with NIL.
But if this moves Michigan closer to a new deal with Harbaugh, then it will be a win. However, I’m worried the NCAA won’t accept the self-imposed penalty.
That organization is as unpredictable as it is terribly run. You just can’t predict what it’s going to do and putting any faith in the NCAA to accept this penalty seems like a risk. According to Chris Balas of The Wolverine, the NCAA hasn’t accepted this penalty, and it won’t be finished until they do.
Michigan’s other option would have been to sign Harbaugh to a big deal anyway, lawyer up, and fight the NCAA tooth and nail.
There are downsides to all the options in this mess. The NCAA should have imposed a one-game penalty or something reasonable instead of a 1/3 or 1/4 of the season.
With all the cheating happening in the open, it’s still insane this is happening and I don’t blame Harbaugh for being pissed. That’s why I’m worried this will push him out the door.
Hopefully, that doesn’t happen but anyone saying this was a slam dunk move, is being a little premature because we still have no idea how this will play or what it means for Harbaugh’s future as Michigan football head coach.