What Big Ten settlement means for Michigan football and Jim Harbaugh

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
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Michigan football head coach Jim Harbaugh has agreed to serve his three-game suspension and the Big Ten will drop its investigation. Here are some thoughts. 

It’s been hard to predict what will happen in the investigation into Michigan football by the Big Ten and the NCAA.

However, what happened on Thursday may have taken everyone by surprise. It seemed like this was headed to a court hearing on Friday, although there had been reports that the two sides were talking, but on Thursday afternoon, Michigan and the Big Ten announced the case was dropped.

Michigan essentially decided not to pursue the case in court. The Big Ten also agreed to end its investigation and let the NCAA take over.

The NCAA has also been running an “expedited” investigation. It’s hard to say what led to the settlement. Certainly, Michigan football wasn’t going to have as strong a case that Harbaugh’s absence caused “irreparable harm” when the Wolverines won without him.

It seems like there was less confidence in the court side of things. I also have a feeling that more evidence was uncovered. The statement released by Michigan made it clear that there still isn’t anything to implicate Harbaugh, but the statement didn’t mention the rest of the staff, which is concerning,

If someone on the staff knew, the suspension would be at least more deserving, although the rule violated is still a Level 2 violation for a reason.

At any rate, Jim Harbaugh won’t be on the sidelines for Michigan football games against Maryland or Ohio State. Sherrone Moore will be the acting head coach and here are some thoughts on what it means for this season and beyond.

The future could be murky

I have no idea if there was more evidence of wrongdoing uncovered by the Big Ten or the NCAA — that’s just a guess, but it could lead to more turnover.

Certainly, if it’s proven that an assistant knew, that assistant coach is likely to be dismissed just like Connor Stalions was going to be.

My biggest concern is what this means for Jim Harbaugh. The purpose of all of this, it feels like, has been to get Harbaugh out of Michigan.

Michigan can’t let that be the end result. The University needs to move forward with his contract extension and get the thing signed immediately.

I don’t care if there is another suspension in the future stemming from all of this — Harbaugh is the most important asset the Michigan football program has and it needs to keep him at all costs.