During his media availability Monday, Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh emphasized a week of gratitude leading up to Ohio State rather than a week of hatred.
In a rivalry like this one though, it’s never that simple — old habits die hard and bad blood continues to fester. For Harbaugh in particular, the memory of his infamous “third base” comment in the aftermath of last year’s 42-27 victory over the Buckeyes refuses to fade.
Jim Harbaugh said he heard a lot of the things Ohio State has said about Michigan.— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) November 28, 2021
"Sometimes people that are standing on third base think they hit a triple, but they didn't," he said. pic.twitter.com/clCycQl7hI
During his appearance on 97.1’s Stoney and Jansen radio show, Harbaugh was asked about the comment in relation to one reportedly made by Ohio State head coach Ryan Day. While Harbaugh emphasized his respect for Day, he didn’t completely shy away from making his feelings known.
“It was definitely a counterpunch by me to the comment that they’re going to hang 100 on us, etcetera,” Harbaugh said. “Kind of like Sugar Ray Robinson.”
The comment in question by Day dates back to the 2020 season. During a Big Ten coaches conference call, Harbaugh and Day purportedly got into a brief but heated argument over on-field instruction rules.
In response, Day is reported to have told his players the Wolverines better hope for a mercy rule, because they would “hang a hundred” points on them. The Game ended up not being played that season due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the Michigan program.
When asked about the “third base” comment by Harbaugh last season, Day declined to respond in his Tuesday press conference — though he didn’t completely shut the door on discussing it in the future.
“I’m not going to talk about it right now. Maybe there’s another time to hit on that,” Day said. “Like I said, there are certain things you listen to and certain things you don’t. In a high profile game, certain things are said. There’s a time and a place for that.”
One thing is clear: not only is this game significant in the grand scheme of college football — both teams are 11-0 and looking to solidify College Football Playoff bids — but it is also at least somewhat personal for both head coaches.