What do Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, Homer Simpson and President Obama have in common?
They all crossed paths with Jim Harbaugh in the last week.
Let’s start with President Obama, the most recent—and the only mutual-admiration encounter—of the trio.
Harbaugh attended a Hillary Clinton rally on Monday at Michigan’s baseball field, where the President urged voters to vote for Clinton—and congratulated Harbaugh’s squad for its strong start.
“I know you guys are feeling pretty good right now, 9-0. It’s impressive,’’ Obama said.
Harbaugh, who attended the President’s State of the Union address last January and met with President and Mrs. Obama last year to help promote an education initiative, spent some time with the President before the rally. Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins and baseball coach Erik Bakich gave the 44th President No. 44 softball and baseball jerseys—and Harbaugh threw in some gear to be received later.
“He wanted a sweat outfit with the Michigan football sweat top that he can take to the golf course,’’ Harbaugh said on his weekly radio show. “That’ll be in the mail tomorrow.’’
In contrast with Harbaugh’s former Bears coach, MIke Ditka, who called Obama “the worst President we’ve ever had,’’ Harbaugh is clearly a big fan of the President.
“He’s a great guy, he’s great,’’ Harbaugh said in the Detroit Free Press. “Thought it was tremendous he gave our team a shout-out. He’s really gifted. He makes you feel. . . it’s normal. You’re not stiff around him. He’s got a way of breaking the ice and making it relaxed and normal as you go in, ‘Mr. President, nice to see you.’ He’s got a way of cutting through all of that.”
ET TU, HOMER? THE SIMPSONS PILE ON
A day earlier, Harbaugh—who once urged Obama to nominate his favorite, Judge Judy, to the Supreme Court—was mentioned on The Simpsons. (And you’re welcome for that deft segue from politics to television.)
After a lacrosse game, Homer Simpson called Marge Simpson and said, “We won every game. Kirk is like a sports genius who everybody hates.’’
“Worse than Jim Harbaugh?’’ Marge said
“Well, not that bad,’’ Homer replied.
Thanks to the Detroit News for this transcript. My tastes run more to John Oliver on Sunday night than Homer Simpson.
JUST SAY NO. . . TO FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
And finally, Harbaugh and Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel greeted Delany’s revelation that the Big Ten will start playing six Friday night games next season by saying the Wolverines do not approve and will not participate.
“Disappointed to learn Big 10 has chosen to infringe on Friday night High school Football,’’ said on Twitter. “We should promote rather than create obstacles.’’
The Wolverines won’t play at home or away, Manuel said. The new television-driven plan, which includes three nonconference games and three Big Ten games.
“We fully support the Big Ten’s scheduling decisions as well as conference peers who are able to play on Friday nights,’’ the Michigan AD said. “With our large fan base, Michigan fans and alumni travel significant distances to attend games, making Saturdays our preferred day for all football games.”
Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald also opposes the plan because “Friday nights are for high school football.” And because of concerns for his players’ “health, safety and well-being” due to the potential short recovery/preparation week.
No word yet on whether Northwestern will follow Michigan’s lead and opt out of the Friday plan. But that doesn’t appear to be the case.
No word, actually, on why Michigan can choose to opt out. But that’s grist for another edition of Harbaugh Weekly.