Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh will not be on the sidelines this Saturday when Ohio Stata travels to Ann Arbor, but it won’t stop him from preparing the Wolverines, as he is still allowed to coach the team during the week.
Asked Monday about his respect for Ohio State and head coach Ryan Day, Harbaugh offered a more general response that side-stepped the question.
“It’s all about our preparation for Ohio,” he said. “The days, the minutes, the hours — everything leading up to this game, that’s where our focus is. Preparing ourselves and planning, got to practice and then execute. Anything else is irrelevant when you get into this kind of big game week.”
Harbaugh will not be on the sidelines, with offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Sherrone Moore filling in as acting head coach. But despite all these changes, Harbaugh said the team has not been impacted by the proceedings of the last few weeks, with Michigan being investigated by the NCAA and Big Ten for an alleged sign-stealing scandal forumlated by former recruiting analyst Connor Stalions.
“It’s really a battle-tested team,” Harbaugh said. “And empowering people. It’s really that. Empowering our coaches and empowering our our players and just an amazing job that they’ve done. Amazing effort, they way our players have gone about things.
“I just think back over the last five, six weeks especially, it’s been like a high pitched siren. Like a deafening, ear-piercing noise and just after a while, start to tolerate it. Then before you know it, just block it out. … So, it’s staying on course. That’s what our team has done. And keep the priorities right. Keep the priority straight, which is faith, family and football.”
And while this upcoming edition of The Game could serve as a referendum on both programs – Michigan in light of the sign-stealing allegations and Ohio State looking to avoid a third loss in as many seasons to the Wolverines – Harbaugh is not concerned about looking toward the future.
I don’t have a crystal ball. It’s all about this game. That’s where our focus is — getting prepared and getting ready to execute. And I think our team is battle-tested and it’s gonna be tough to beat. Looking forward to it.