With his three-game suspension complete, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he gained a new perspective on his team and plans to implement policies to “make sure I don’t ever get sidelined again.” Here’s what you need to know:
- Harbaugh will be back for Saturday’s game against Rutgers after serving a three-game school-imposed suspension stemming from an investigation into alleged NCAA rules violations.
- Michigan’s alleged infractions included impermissible contact with recruits during the COVID-19 dead period, analysts performing coaching duties in practice and Harbaugh’s alleged failure to cooperate with NCAA investigators.
- Harbaugh said Michigan has “gone to the nth degree to follow every rule” but will implement policies to make sure the program is adhering to a “gold standard” in rules compliance.
- Harbaugh said his time away from the team “made me a better coach” and gave him ideas that he plans to implement with his team in practice.
What are Michigan’s new policies?
Harbaugh didn’t describe the changes in great detail but said Michigan will monitor more closely to make sure analysts aren’t performing coaching duties in practice, which was one area where the program ran afoul of NCAA rules.
“One of (the policies) is the analysts and making sure there’s absolutely no coaching whatsoever,” Harbaugh said. “You say that over and over to guys. It’s just a natural coaching instinct. I want to protect them. I want to protect me.”
Harbaugh said watching the games from afar also gave him ideas that he can implement with his coaching staff and players to help the team perform at a higher level. The Wolverines started 3-0 with four assistants sharing head-coaching duties but struggled at times, particularly in Saturday’s 31-6 victory against Bowling Green.
“Watching the game and not being on the sideline, I saw it from a different perspective,” Harbaugh said. “Here’s what we could do to make it even better.”
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What Harbaugh said
“Seeing the game in a different way, through a different lens, I think it’s made me a better coach. As a result, we’re going to implement some new things that we haven’t done as it relates to a few policies around here to make sure I don’t ever get sidelined again, ramping that up to a gold standard, and also how we watch the game as an offense.”
After attempts to reach a negotiated resolution with the NCAA broke down, Michigan announced Harbaugh’s school-imposed suspension in August and acknowledged “mistakes” that came to light during the NCAA investigation. The school-imposed suspension doesn’t fully resolve Michigan’s case but could mitigate future punishments assessed by the Committee on Infractions.
Offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore also served a one-game suspension stemming from the investigation, and Michigan didn’t host recruits on campus for the first two weeks of the season.
Harbaugh has declined to comment on the allegations but told reporters at Big Ten media day he had “nothing to be ashamed of.” He compared the three-game suspension to a “baseball bat to the kneecaps or the shoulder” rather than a slap on the wrist.
(Photo: Kirby Lee / USA Today)