ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Jim Harbaugh stood behind a lectern and delivered prepared remarks Monday, kicking off a week in which he will either lose another opportunity to coach No. 2 Michigan or win a hearing to at least temporarily lift the Big Ten’s penalty against him for a sign-stealing scheme.
Harbaugh shared his take on various topics, including reversing his previously held dislike for chickens, but said he would save his opinions on the conference’s punishment for his day in court, which comes Friday.
“I’m just looking for that opportunity, due process,” Harbaugh said at his weekly news conference. “I’m not looking for special treatment. I’m not looking for a popularity contest. I’m just looking for the merit for what the case is.”
The Big Ten’s case against the Harbaugh-led Wolverines is that they violated the conference’s sportsmanship policy by conducting “an impermissible, in-person scouting operation over multiple years” that resulted in “an unfair competitive advantage that compromised the integrity of competition.”
Harbaugh said that when the Big Ten handed down its discipline, suspending him for the final three games of the regular season, he was informed via social media, which he saw on someone else’s phone during a flight Friday to Penn State.
While Harbaugh held back on publicly disclosing his emotions over the weekend, he relayed what Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel thought about the Big Ten not informing the school first of the decision made less than 24 hours before kickoff against the Nittany Lions.
“Warde was pretty upset,” Harbaugh recalled.
The Wolverines (10-0, 7-0 Big Ten, No. 3 CFP) are all pretty fired up these days, galvanizing their team and sparking sales of “Michigan Vs. Everybody” merchandise that is putting money in players’ pockets through a NIL deal.
Harbaugh said if the hearing does not go in the school’s favor, offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore will lead the way for a second straight game at Maryland (6-3, 3-4) on Saturday, when the heavily favored team will be a win away from becoming the first college football program to reach 1,000 victories.
Moore called the shots in a 24-15 win over then-No. 9 Penn State, and he was in tears during his on-field postgame interview as he expressed affection for Harbaugh, the team, the school president, athletic director and fans.
“I was like 5 inches from the TV,” said Harbaugh, whose punishment included being banned from Penn State’s stadium. “It was beautiful.”
What’s gotten ugly is an extraordinary confrontation between the conference and one of its flagship institutions, which has been playing out for three weeks.
Michigan receiver Cornelius Johnson expects the drama to provide material for a documentary someday. “This is crazy,” he said.
Harbaugh’s latest opportunity to speak with reporters was silly at times and serious at others. It was decidedly lighthearted while discussing chicks that he bought a few years ago for his children as Easter presents that have since changed his aversion to eating chicken because he said they were nervous birds.
“I was dead wrong,” he said, without appearing to be joking. “I stand corrected. These chickens are low maintenance and high production. They lay an egg every 26, 27 hours. They need water. They need food.
“Yeah, I play with them, too, when I’m out in the yard. We run around. They’re happy to see me. There’s times when I’m doing good things for other people, and they’re not as happy to see me as my chickens are.”
Follow Larry Lage at https://twitter.com/LarryLage
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