Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said he plans to attend a court hearing Friday where a judge will hear arguments on whether to grant a restraining order that would nullify the Big Ten’s three-game suspension of the coach.
“I’m going to talk on Friday,” Harbaugh said. “I’m just looking forward to that opportunity — due process. I’m not looking for special treatment, not looking for a popularity contest, just looking for the merit of what the case is.”
The Big Ten suspended Harbaugh this past Friday as a punishment against the football program for violating the league’s sportsmanship policy. Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti said in a letter Friday he had gathered enough information from the NCAA and others in the conference to prove that a former member of Michigan’s staff compromised the integrity of this year’s games by scouting other teams’ signals in advance.
Harbaugh and the university filed a complaint against the Big Ten and Petitti in state court Friday, hours after the league’s suspension was announced. Michigan has asked the court for a temporary restraining order that would negate the suspension and get Harbaugh back on the field. A hearing on the request is scheduled to take place Friday at the Washtenaw County Courthouse in Ann Arbor.
Harbaugh said he wasn’t sure whether he would have the opportunity to state his case in front of the judge, but he does intend to be there in person.
“I’ve always felt like it’d be cool to get up there and thunder away at a jury like Tom Cruise in ‘A Few Good Men’ or be a judge. Alas, I did not go to law school,” he said. “This will be the first time I’ve ever really been in this situation.”
Harbaugh, who is allowed to coach the team throughout the week under the terms of the Big Ten’s suspension, said he will keep a “one-track mind” on helping the team prepare for its game this weekend at Maryland. He said offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore will continue to act as the team’s interim coach if his suspension is upheld.
Moore coached No. 3 Michigan to its first win against a ranked opponent this past weekend with a 24-15 win over No. 10 Penn State. After the game, Moore broke down in tears during an on-field interview when talking about Harbaugh and how the team responded to his suspension.
Harbaugh said he was “about 5 inches away” from the television screen during Moore’s interview.
“It was beautiful,” he said.
The Big Ten announced its decision to suspend Harbaugh while the team was en route to Pennsylvania on Friday afternoon. Harbaugh said he learned about the decision when someone showed him a social media post with the news.
Harbaugh said Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel “was pretty upset” on the team plane when they learned via news reports about the suspension rather than hearing about it directly from Petitti or the conference. Manuel expressed some of his anger in a statement published Saturday morning. Harbaugh said the support from Manuel, who has been “10 toes down, standing right here with us,” and from the university’s president, board and alumni has been “much appreciated.”
“I’m feeling a galvanized Michigan,” he said. “That’s a tremendous thing. That’s a monumental thing when you think about it. Everybody’s fighting like the team we’re supposed to be. That’s going to be tough to beat.”
The Wolverines play at Maryland on Saturday before finishing their regular season with a home game against rival and No. 1-ranked Ohio State. Friday’s hearing will help determine whether Harbaugh is able to attend either of those games.