Amid sign-stealing scandal, Jim Harbaugh says Michigan should be ‘America's Team'

Harbaugh's comments came just days after the Big Ten punished the Michigan coach over an alleged sign-stealing scheme

Jim Harbaugh
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File photo: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines is seen following the Big Ten Championship against the Purdue Boilermakers at Lucas Oil Stadium on Dec. 3, 2022, in Indianapolis.

The "America's Team" moniker has long been tied to the Dallas Cowboys.

But one college football head coach believes his team has earned the title as well.

During a press conference on Monday, suspended Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh was asked to describe his range of emotions while watching the No. 2 Wolverines' win over then-No. 9 Penn State on television Saturday. And Harbaugh raised some eyebrows by saying the undefeated Wolverines, who are facing allegations of cheating, showed why they should be "America's Team" with the 24-15 victory.

"The emotion of the team, the perseverance and then just the stalwartness of these guys, watching (the game) I would have to say, it's gotta be 'America's Team.' This has gotta be 'America's Team,'" Harbaugh told reporters. "America loves a team that beats the odds, beats the adversity, overcomes what the naysayers and critics, so-called experts, think. That's my favorite kind of team. Watching it from that view on the television, it was, 'Finally, people get to see what I see everyday in these players and these coaches.'"

Harbaugh's comments came just days after the Big Ten punished the Michigan coach over an alleged sign-stealing scheme.

Harbaugh was suspended for the Wolverines' final three regular-season games on Friday after Michigan was found to be in violation of the Big Ten'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.” The suspension was handed down less than 24 hours before the Michigan-Penn State game.

Michigan responded to the ban by requesting a temporary restraining order against the Big Ten and conference commissioner Tony Petitti in the hopes of Harbaugh being able to coach against Penn State. But there wasn't enough time for a ruling to be made.

Harbaugh, who is allowed to attend practices and other team activities during the suspension, has denied any knowledge of an improper scouting scheme that has been the focus of an NCAA investigation since last month. Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said the Big Ten and Petitti acted "unethically" by punishing Harbaugh while the NCAA's probe remains ongoing.

Jim Harbaugh's career in football spans a journey from a gritty quarterback to a commanding coach.

At a court hearing on Friday in Ann Arbor, a judge will rule on whether to grant the temporary restraining order filed by Michigan that would allow Harbaugh back on the sidelines. Harbaugh said he plans to attend the hearing.

“I’m just looking for that opportunity, due process,” Harbaugh said. “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 Wolverines visit Maryland on Saturday before hosting No. 3 Ohio State in a massive regular-season finale. Offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore will continue to serve as acting head coach if Harbaugh remains suspended.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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