By: Jeff Riger
It’s essentially the law among football fans in Ann Arbor that Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh is not to be criticized about, well anything.
But that has to change right now over what I think was an ill-advised misstep in his carefully crafted image.
Before Derek Jeter, Ric Flair and Tom Brady got to town, as Harbaugh and his casts of stars get ready to introduce an impressive recruiting class, his actions on Tuesday night need to be called into question. The Michigan basketball team had a significant game against Indiana at Crisler center, which they lost — badly. And in the middle of the game, Harbaugh visited the opposing team’s locker room.
A 17-6 Michigan lead turned into a 21 point deficit as both teams walked to their locker rooms at the half before finishing the game that ended in a 80-67 IU win.
Harbaugh had invited celebrities, athletes and stars from near and far to introduce his recruits to the world on National Signing day today. In addition to the aforementioned Jeter, Brady and Flair, the likes of poker star Phil Helmuth, former baseball manager Jim Leyland and even former NFL coach Mike Shanahan and others were in the house taking in the game before the festivities on signing day.
So as Harbaugh was making his rounds and hanging with his dad and his NFL coach brother John, the actual basketball team at his university was getting obliterated on the court.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of ‘Signing with the Stars’ and the fact that Harbaugh went out of his way to make signing day such a talked about spectacle. I also like that they’re raising money for cancer research in the process, however it doesn’t change the fact that he was out of line.
You see as Michigan’s team was hanging their head after playing their worst half of the season, Harbaugh decided to go and visit his brother-in-law Tom Crean, who also happens to be the head coach at Indiana. Yeah, that’s right, the face of Michigan athletics thought it would be a great idea to go to the Hoosiers locker room at the half before being seen by every beat writer as he walked out.
The game was not over. What possible reason would he have to be in the Indiana’s room? I wonder what they talked about? Maybe Tom allowed Jim to draw up some plays, after all Indiana led by such a large margin there was no way they could blow it.
Every eyeball in the place was on Harbaugh last night and he does that to John Beilein?
Look, I’m not a huge fan of Beilein, however I don’t think he deserved that slap in the face. Harbaugh showed up to Indiana’s practice on Monday afternoon and I’m sure he said his hello’s to Crean before the game so there was no reason to go in search of Crean again while he was working, unless he wanted to send the message that he couldn’t care less about the hoops program, that he was there just for his thing.
I’ve always thought Michigan fans look at their sports all wrong. They love the football program, but don’t care about the hoops. The Fab Five didn’t even sell out their games. What does that tell you? The most influential team in years and people didn’t pack Crisler? At any other school, people would have been lined up around the block to get in. And, please spare me the “but they cheated” talk because that came along after the team was already gone from the university.
Basketball has always been a second class citizen at Michigan and Harbaugh essentially proved that with his actions last night.
By this point, you’re problem shaking your head, thinking I’m overreacting and trying to make this more than it is, however asked yourself this? Would Mark Dantonio ever have done something similar to Tom Izzo? The answer is, obviously, no!
Maybe I’m the only one, but I’m jealous of the fact people in East Lansing actually care about their basketball program. And, why wouldn’t they? Yeah, it must be no fun at all to march to Final Four after Final Four? When is Michigan going to realize that having a good hoops team will only help the football team? But it’s never been like that, it’s always football first and by the looks of it yesterday it will continue to be. I find it very sad and shortsighted.
When Jim came to Michigan, I hoped that he and Beilein could be like Izzo and Dantonio but it seems like Harbaugh is about…well… Harbaugh and football and I guess that shouldn’t surprise anybody because the rest of the Michigan fan base is too. Real classy, Jim!