The ongoing suspension drama surrounding Jim Harbaugh found some clarity on Monday. Michigan football disclosed that the Big Ten Coach of the Year will undergo a self-imposed three-game suspension. This action results from purported violations that took place during the COVID-19 dead period in 2020.
Earlier expectations hinted at a four-game suspension for Harbaugh at the onset of the 2023 college football season, with the Wolverines opening as the AP poll’s second-ranked team. Nonetheless, the NCAA’s infractions committee didn’t approve the proposed suspension, indicating that this narrative might still have some unfolding left.
Harbaugh, gearing up for his ninth season with the Wolverines, faces a Level I violation. This charge suggests either misleading information or a lack of cooperation with investigators regarding the stated violations. It appears Michigan football hopes that this self-imposed suspension might lead the NCAA to deliver a milder final verdict. Alongside this, Michigan football is dealing with four Level II violations, considered to be less severe.
Many believe the NCAA’s final decision on the matter might not emerge until 2024.
So, how does Harbaugh’s suspension impact Michigan football in 2023? If this three-game suspension is the only action for the season, then its impact might be minimal.
Harbaugh shared his thoughts shortly after the suspension news broke. He’ll be absent for the Wolverines’ initial three matches, all set at Michigan Stadium. Yet, the opposing teams for these games don’t seem to be substantial threats to the reigning Big Ten champions.
Michigan’s initial three-week schedule is as follows:
They kick off on September 2 against East Carolina, who recorded an 8-5 in 2022. Though they were decent last season, the Pirates aren’t anticipated to make waves in the American Athletic Conference this year. Expert predictions don’t even place them in the top five, foreseeing the conference spotlight on Tulane and Texas-San Antonio.
Week 2, on September 9, sees Michigan play UNLV, a team that started strong in 2022 but fizzled out, leading to head coach Marcus Arroyo’s exit. With another rebuilding year for the Rebels, they aren’t expected to challenge Michigan.
The last game Harbaugh will be sidelined for is on September 16 against Bowling Green. Though they recorded a 6-7 last season and show some promise under head coach Scot Loeffler, very few anticipate an upset win against Michigan in Ann Arbor.