As the season has worn on, No. 3 Michigan has faced increased adversity and scrutiny.
In the past month there have been allegations of sign-stealing by former analyst Connor Stalions and last week linebackers coach Chris Partridge was fired in relation to the investigation. The Big Ten suspended Jim Harbaugh three games, including this Saturday against Ohio State, despite the Big Ten acknowledging they have no evidence Harbaugh knew of wrongdoing or committed any himself. Offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore has been the head coach with Harbaugh not around on gamedays (Harbaugh’s able to coach throughout the week). In short, there’s been a lot of stuff going on.
During his Monday news conference, Harbaugh was repeatedly asked questions about the investigation. Per NCAA investigation rules, Harbaugh can’t comment on an ongoing case, so he used those moments to make clear where his focus is.
“All the focus is on Ohio State, “Harbaugh said.
“It’s all about this game. That’s where our focus is. Getting prepared and ready to execute. I think our team is battle-tested and is gonna be tough to beat,” Harbaugh explained. “Looking forward to it.”
Harbaugh admitted the outside noise was loud, but the team has since been able to zone it out and lock in on what they need to.
“I just think back over the last five, six weeks. It’s just been like a high-pitched siren. Like a deafening, ear-piercing noise. And just after a while you start tolerating it. And then before you know it, just block it out.”
They have to block it out, and as Harbaugh put it, stay on course, take the high road and keep the priorities straight.
The matchup against Ohio State is always brutal and a bloodbath. Wins aren’t easy, they’re earned. While the No. 2 Buckeyes (11-0) have lost the last two matchups in the series, that should also serve as added motivation for them to not let it happen this year. No one knows this more than Michigan. Cornerback Mike Sainristil said Sunday that last year was last year and it doesn’t matter. What does matter is every moment of preparation this week must be utilized to the fullest to beat Ohio State.
“It’s all Ohio, the week’s all about Ohio,” Harbaugh said. “Working really hard to get ready for this game using the hours, the minutes, the days to hone our focus. Get prepared — playing, practice, and then go execute in the game.”
Harbaugh wants Michigan to “stay on course”, but Ohio State’s in their way and for Michigan to remain on the right path they must walk away unscathed after a powerful collision with the Buckeyes.