Editor’s note: With the National Championship game tonight, we re-up this Jim Harbaugh piece from 2020, which alludes to Big Ten Media Days 2017.
In April of 2020 Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh spoke to the media for the first time since the covid-19 pandemic shut down sports. Harbaugh made some controversial, eye-brow raising comments in this MLive article that truly buried the lead.
Actually, it took burying the lead to an egregious level. The quotes we speak of, the most news-worthy portion of the article by far, don’t appear to the very end. And the author offered no context regarding these strange quotes.
“God has virtually stopped the world from spinning,” Harbaugh said at the time, in reference to the covid pandemic. He then said covid was a message from God.
“I don’t think it’s coincidence, personally, living a faith-based life,” he continued.
“This is a message — this is something where, a time we grow in our faith. Having reverence and respect for God. You see people taking more a view of sanctity of life. I hope that continues — and not just in this time of crisis or pandemic.”
Harbaugh then shifted to the topic of abortion, a practice that he is strongly against.
“We talk about sanctity of life, yet we live in a society that aborts babies,” he added.
“There can’t be anything more horrendous.”
Not sure what Harbaugh is really trying to say here, but he’s definitely linking covid-19 and abortion in some way. You don’t want to put words in someone else’s mouth, but he is definitely stating that the pandemic is a message from God, and then he quickly started discussing abortion.
It’s very strange and weird, to say the least. And it’s also very disappointing considering what he said, just three years earlier about the concept of intellectualism. You can call Harbaugh a strange, or quirky man, but he is still a smart one.
He wouldn’t be where he is today, if he wasn’t.
While he may be a hard-core Christian zealot, Harbaugh is still sharp enough to have had a very successful coaching career on both the collegiate and professional level.
Crazy that he would make such anti-science, anti-personal freedom remarks, less than three years after praising the merit of being worldly, open-minded, and literally telling people to “make the world their classroom.”
We know refer to the 2017 article:
Harbaugh took his Michigan football team on a trip to Rome in April where they held three spring practices and also had numerous unique cultural experiences.
It’s hard not to praise his idea, especially when you consider how Harbaugh himself said: “it’s the best thing he’s ever done personally as part of a football team.”
During their trip to Rome, the Wolverines saw numerous world famous tourist attractions, including: The Colosseum, The Forum, The Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, The Spanish Steps, St. Peter’s, The Vatican and Piazza Navona.
When navigating the tedium of coachspeak and other press conference pablum at a given preseason media day, all roads lead to Rome for a more unique Media Day story idea.
It’s incredible to connect with somebody from a different country, to see something you’ve never seen before, taste food you’ve never tasted or hear a language that you’ve never heard and then experience it together as a team,” Harbaugh said at B1G Media Day.
“To be able to experience as a group makes it so much better, 900 times better as you’re getting not only your own experience but the others in the group. And, yeah, it’s a chance to put the college back in college football.”
“It’s a chance to have the whole world be your classroom. And not all learning is done in a classroom or on a football field. It’s out there living, out there seeing and doing. So I would recommend it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done personally as part of a football team.”
Next off-season Harbaugh is planning on taking his team to Paris, Normandy and London.
What a game-changer this novel concept is from a recruiting standpoint.
“It was very interesting to watch our team do six hours of sightseeing one day where we’re walking through old Rome and then in the afternoon we’re at the Colosseum, at the Forum, and you learn so many things along the way,” Jim Harbaugh continued.
“Colosseum has been around for 600 years, it’s been active for 600 years. Around here, 30, 40 years as a stadium and they tear it down. Amazing, really.”
“The Forum, to see how much Washington D.C., our own Washington D.C., was designed around Rome and even our political system, much patterned after Rome.”
Michigan also interacted with members of the AS Roma football club (soccer) team and held their final practice at Stadio dei Marmi, the historic venue adjacent to the club’s stadium. The Wolverines returned the favor when AS Roma was in Detroit last week preparing for their international friendly against Paris Saint-Germain F.C.
The old catch-phrase “Rome wasn’t built in a day” might apply to this year’s Wolverines team as well, with Michigan expected to take a slight step back this upcoming season from where they were the past two campaigns.
“We had three really good practices over there.
But then to flip the switch and be back to football and go out and practice and understand that it doesn’t matter where we are, in Ann Arbor, in Rome, in some other place,” Jim Harbaugh continued.
“Now it’s time to do what we do in football, and do it as a team.”
So who is the real Jim Harbaugh?
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He’s written for numerous publications, including the New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune. He regularly appears on NTD News and WGN News Now, while writing for the International Baseball Writers Association of America. You can follow the website on Twitter.