UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (WHTM) – University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh will not be on the sideline for Saturday’s game against Penn State.
Hours after the Big Ten banned Harbaugh from coaching the rest of the Wolverines’ final regular-season games as punishment for a sign-stealing scheme, the coach and his alma mater filed a request for a temporary restraining order against the Big Ten and Commissioner Tony Petitti.
Their attorneys asked for a speedy decision that would allow Harbaugh to coach against the Nittany Lions in the top-10 matchup that was scheduled to kick off a little after noon Eastern.
The order was not in place in time for kickoff at Beaver Stadium.
“The harm to the university’s student-athletes would be irreversible,” attorneys for Michigan and Harbaugh said in the filing on Friday.
The conference disciplined the school Friday for an elaborate, in-person scouting scheme that is also being investigated by the NCAA. Michigan leadership insists conference bylaws require the NCAA investigation to play out and that Petitti overstepped his power by doling out punishment.
The Big Ten noted Michigan is only arguing procedure and process and had conceded the impermissible conduct went on. Conference rivals have been angry and frustrated as evidence mounted that a former low-level staffer was buying tickets to the games of Michigan’s opponents and sending people to record video of sideline signals.
The rare punishment of a national championship contender in the final stretch of its season and one of college football’s most successful coaches by its own conference has become one of the biggest stories in sports.
On the field, Michigan has been the most dominant team in the country, beating its opponents by average of 36 points per game and not allowing more than one touchdown in any game. The Wolverines’ competition so far has been the only argument against its excellence. Penn State will be the first ranked team Michigan has faced.
Harbaugh’s team is vying for a third straight Big Ten championship and appearance in the College Football Playoff.
After Penn State, the Wolverines are at Maryland before the traditional regular-season finale against heated rival Ohio State. The third-ranked Buckeyes visit Ann Arbor, Michigan, on Nov. 25.
The Big Ten’s penalty would allow Harbaugh to return for the Big Ten championship game and the playoff, if Michigan makes it.