June 16, 2024

Jim Harbaugh eager to be back on the sideline with Wolverines

Michigan Wolverines Football

Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh jogs towards the locker room with team before Big Ten Championship Game against Purdue Saturday December 3, 2022 at Lucas Oil Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — After serving a three-game suspension, Michigan’s head coach is looking forward to being with his team at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday night.

Jim Harbaugh has put the sign-stealing scandal in the rearview mirror, and is completely focusing on Iowa. After all, a win over the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Championship Game will deliver the Wolverines a third-straight conference crown, and berth in the Playoffs.

Offensive Coordinator Sherrone Moore kept the wheels rolling during Harbaugh’s absence, and he admires what he accomplished, as well the rest of the coaching staff.

“I really have to give praise and credit to all who contributed, so many players so many coaches, especially Sherrone Moore,” Harbaugh said. “I do have to single him out because there’s not a thing I would’ve changed the way he called that game, the decisions that he made in that kind of environment, that kind of pressure, huge shoutout to Sherrone.”

Michigan (12-0) hasn’t lost to a Big Ten opponent since October of 2021, which is a span of 25 games. Harbaugh has every intention on keeping it that way as the Wolverines approach their pivotal battle against the Hawkeyes. That means practice is going to be intense this week. Michigan is playing at a high level on both sides of the ball too. Not to mention the Wolverines are heavy favorites in Saturday’s matchup.

Still, that doesn’t mean Harbaugh is taking the Hawkeyes lightly. Iowa (10-2) is dead last in the FBS in total offense, but Harbaugh could care less about the stats on paper, or the fact that the Wolverines beat them for his first Big Ten Title in 2021. He respects Coach Kirk Ferentz’s longevity, and that his team made it to this point by winning games.

“The key word there is wins, anytime you win it’s a team effort,” he said. “Your team was able to make the plays that they needed to make, stop the drives, covered the kicks that needed to be covered, and Iowa does that, they win.”

There’s no denying that the Hawkeyes are scrappy, play lights out on defense and special teams, and they know how to win ugly. Regardless, Harbaugh has confidence in his players. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy is having an All-Big Ten-caliber campaign. Running back Blake Corum has rushed for 22 touchdowns this fall, which is a single-season, school record.

On top of that, Michigan’s defense has been flat-out dominant. The Wolverines are No. 2 nationally in total defense, and have multiple playmakers at every level of the unit. Edge rushers Jaylen Harrell and Josiah Stewart have combined for 10 sacks. Linebacker Junior Colson leads the team with 71 tackles. Defensive back Mike Sainristil has generated a jaw-dropping, five interceptions, and scored two defensive touchdowns.

Everyone is hungry, despite all of the success, and that’s what Harbaugh is proud of. There’s unfinished business though, so Harbaugh wants to keep his foot on the gas.

“My emotions, my focus has been with the team the entire time, it’s been a tremendous season, quite like the exact position we worked so hard to be in,” the 59-year old coach said. ‘We accomplished many of our goals, but not all of them yet, some still are out there.”

All of the naysayers are waiting to see how Harbaugh fares outside of the Big Ten in the postseason. It’s no mystery that Harbaugh wants to silence all of his critics. He insists on doing that one game at a time, like he’s done all along. There’s nothing like gameday, and Harbaugh can’t wait to take it all in with his team once again. No doubt he’s out to make a statement, and all eyes will be on him as he patrols the sideline.

“I would say it’s good to be back, but I never left.”