LINCOLN, Neb. — On Saturday at Nebraska, Michigan football head coach Jim Harbaugh was fired up in a way we haven’t seen since 2016.
At the outset of the second half, when the Huskers scored their first touchdown of the game, immediately after, Harbaugh was on the sidelines, yelling at the referees. That used to be a normal in-game practice, but after his antics cost the Wolverines against Ohio State in 2016, he’s tamped down his behavior. However, on Saturday, Harbaugh would not be quiet about what he was seeing out on the field.
“It was an illegal formation from what I saw on the field,” Harbaugh said. “I was wondering who they were putting on the line of scrimmage when they had five in the backfield and they told me the guy they put on the line of scrimmage. They said, ‘Well, he released on a pass!’ Anyway, that’s the way I saw it. It was either illegal that he was not on the line of scrimmage or, if that’s who they put, the No. 3 receiver on the line of scrimmage, he can’t release downfield on a pass. At that particular time, that’s what I was trying to argue about.”
Nebraska wasn’t called on that play, but it had been earlier in the game. However, it wasn’t there, and it allowed the Huskers to get on the board and suddenly change momentum.
But that wasn’t the only nefarious doing of the game in Harbaugh’s eyes.
At one point, Nebraska was warned for defensive delay of game, and it was due to the home team mimicking Michigan’s snap count, clapping to hike the ball when the offense hadn’t actually done so. Harbaugh claims that went unnoticed, too, as the Huskers got away with it a few times before it was called.
Finally, the refs listened to the Wolverines.
“Yeah, yeah. We’re saying it,” Harbaugh said. “One time it got called, but they were definitely trying to clap, (replicate) the snap.”
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Between the two things, Harbaugh has been in contact and will continue to be in contact with the Big Ten about it, noting that when Nebraska — or any other team, for that matter — acts accordingly, they should get an ‘intent to deceive’ penalty, something he was flagged for against Rutgers in 2015 when he split tight end Jake Butt out wide.
“Yeah, we’ve been talking to them about it,” Harbaugh said. “There was kind of several things that had already shown up in terms of alignments and putting — officials keep saying they want to put guys on, they want to put them in the right spot, they don’t want flags, but we don’t want football to turn into this kind of thing where you don’t know who’s on, who’s off, who’s the eligible receiver, who isn’t? It should be clear. You can’t have two guys lined up in the exact same — you put one guy on, one guy off. I don’t think that’s where we want football to go. That clap kind of stuff, it really should be an intent to deceive foul, which is in the rulebook and 15 yards. But hey, all that — I’m just gonna enjoy the incredible. That was awesome!”