ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Jim Harbaugh is leaning on lessons from “Ted Lasso” to cope with the challenges that come with preparing No. 3 Michigan to face rival and second-ranked Ohio State amid a sign-stealing scandal that will keep him away from his team for a third straight game.
“Despite that noise, our locker room’s in one piece,” Harbaugh said Monday before borrowing a line from the fictional soccer coach in a comedy series. “And like Ted, for me, a locker room is a lot like my mom’s bathing suits. I like to see them in one piece.
“We’ve got that, and it’s amazing.”
Harbaugh sidestepped a handful of questions at his weekly news conference, including sharing his take on the school not going through with its threat to take the Big Ten to court for suspending him for three games and his reaction to linebackers coach Chris Partridge getting fired in the wake of an NCAA investigation and conference punishment.
Harbaugh did say, more than once, how proud he is of players and coaches who have put the two-time defending conference champions in a position to play for a spot in the Big Ten title game and perhaps the College Football Playoff for a third straight year.
“Many life lessons that that our young guys are learning at this age, and how the world works,” he said. “Keeping those priorities straight: faith, family, and football. We’re battle-tested and ready to go.”
When the Wolverines go at it with the Buckeyes on Saturday, Harbaugh will be banned from the Big House and offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore will fill in for him on the sideline.
Harbaugh watched last week’s game at Maryland with his brother, John, at his house and their wives while noshing on snacks and sandwiches.
John Harbaugh, coach of the Baltimore Ravens, said his brother had his play sheet with him.
“He would’ve rather been on the sideline, I got a pretty good feeling,” John Harbaugh told reporters.
Michigan, college football’s first program with 1,000 wins, will be without its coach for half of the regular season because he was also suspended for the first three games as part of a school-imposed penalty for breaking NCAA rules unrelated to sign-stealing.
After Harbaugh served his first suspension, the Wolverines were routing overmatched opponents while facing potentially tougher obstacles off the field. The last two games were closer, wins over then-No. 9 Penn State and the Terrapins.
Harbaugh acknowledged the outside noise was loud at first, but said players and coaches have learned to tune it out.
“Over the last five, six weeks, especially, it’s just been like a high-pitched siren,” he said. “Like a deafening, ear-piercing noise, and after a while, you start to tolerate it. And then before you know it, just block it out.”
Get alerts on the latest AP Top 25 poll throughout the season. Sign up here.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll