Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh maintains the looming possibility of the NCAA vacating the No. 1-ranked Wolverines’ victories during the 2023 season is nowhere near the team’s radar before the College Football Playoff national championship on Monday night in Houston.
“We’re thinking about we’ve got one phase line to go here, that’s Monday night, it’s Washington,” Harbaugh said Wednesday as the Wolverines make final preparations for the No. 2 Huskies before traveling to Texas. “We’re going to do anything and everything in our power to get ready for that football game.”
Michigan used a carousel of assistant coaches in Harbaugh’s head-coaching role this season. The Wolverines have a program-record 14 wins entering the national title game but Harbaugh was on the sideline for only half of them. He was suspended twice — four games to begin the regular season and three games by the Big Ten following an investigation into sign-stealing allegations.
Harbaugh said his message this week will be two-fold: Washington is a great team, and Michigan responds to pressure situations. He pointed to instances of responding to adverse conditions or poor decisions in the Rose Bowl, such as quarterback J.J. McCarthy throwing an interception — overturned by replay because the defender was ruled out of bounds — on the first offensive play from scrimmage.
“J.J., the first play of the game, clearly throwing the ball away. And I can tell you having made a bad play in a football game, it’s like a train going through your head of you just almost see red,” Harbaugh said. .”.. There are a lot of guys that will hang their heads and go into the tank, or get that deer-in-the-headlights look. But every guy that had that happen in the game came back and made a phenomenal play.”
Michigan last won the national championship in 1997, albeit a split title with Nebraska, capped by a win over Washington State in the Rose Bowl. The Wolverines have never played in the national championship in the BCS or CFP era.
Harbaugh didn’t want to discuss sign-stealing or the possibility the NCAA could punish Michigan with sanctions — including erasing wins.
“Getting ready for this game. One-track mind. I guess you want to live in the world of Rumorville or speculation, but we just don’t really have any room to be doing that at this point. Our time is spent elsewhere,” Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh is also not planning to discuss his future as speculation around NFL interest continues to swirl.
“Just taking care of business today, very one-track mind, dominate the day,” Harbaugh said. “Wake up tomorrow and see if we can’t dominate that day.”
–Field Level Media
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