Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh spoke with reporters for the first time in more than a week as speculation amid the NCAA's investigation into alleged on-site sign-stealing by the Wolverines has swirled.
The Wolverines are undefeated and ranked No. 2 in the country heading into this weekend’s game at home vs. Purdue. Predictably, there weren’t many questions about the matchup with the Boilermakers.
And with the investigation now casting a cloud on Michigan’s run at a national championship, Harbaugh said the only thing he can do is let the investigation take its course.
“You just have to let it play out,” Harbaugh said. “Cooperate with the investigation and watch how it plays out. The speculation part, as I said, I’ve got too much of a one-track mind on coaching the team to be able to engage in every piece of speculation that seems to be any and everywhere.”
The investigation led to the suspension of Connor Stalions, an analyst on Harbaugh’s staff. Yahoo Sports broke the story of the investigation and Stalions was quickly identified as a central figure. A Big Ten coach told Yahoo Sports’ Ross Dellenger that Stalions “spearheads” Michigan’s sign-stealing operation, which allegedly included in-person scouting.
Stalions purchased tickets in his own name for games involving Big Ten teams and possible teams Michigan could face in the College Football Playoff, including Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Clemson and Oregon. ESPN reported that Stalions had purchased tickets for the Penn State vs. Ohio State game earlier this month with seats on “both sides of the stadium across from each bench.” After the investigation began, those tickets went unused.
The Washington Post reported last week that the NCAA investigation was prompted by “an outside investigative firm approaching the NCAA with documents and videos obtained from computer drives maintained and accessed by multiple Michigan coaches.” NCAA investigators reportedly made their way to Ann Arbor last week.
Harbaugh did not have much to say about any of it and referred back to his initial statement from when news of the NCAA probe emerged.
“I was forthright with the statement right away,” Harbaugh said Monday.
In that statement, Harbaugh said he did “not have any knowledge or information regarding the University of Michigan football program illegally stealing signs, nor have I directed any staff member or others to participate in an off-campus scouting assignment.”
“I have no awareness of anyone on our staff having done that or having directed that action,” the statement further read. “No matter what program or organization I have led throughout my career, my instructions and awareness of how we scout opponents have always been firmly within the rules.”
Did Jim Harbaugh have a contract offer rescinded?
Harbaugh has been publicly linked to multiple NFL openings over the past two offseasons. Before the sign-stealing saga surfaced, multiple outlets reported that Harbaugh and Michigan have been working on a contract extension to keep him in Ann Arbor.
The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Harbaugh had a new contract offer that was “rescinded” amid the investigation. Harbaugh said that report is not accurate.
“I wouldn’t say that’s accurate. The university has a policy on contracts and publicly talking about them. They don’t comment on them until after they’re done,” Harbaugh said.
With a visit from Purdue on tap for this weekend and huge games against Penn State and Ohio State on the horizon, Harbaugh said the program is “refreshed” after a bye week and in “onward mode” as it moves along with its season.
“It’s a one-track mind that I’m modeling and I see it throughout the program,” Harbaugh said.