BREAKING NEWS: NFL verdict on Jim Harbaugh amid NCAA punishment for reportedly’ alleged sign-stealing scheme

An often-heard sentiment in the wake of revelations about the Michigan Wolverines’ alleged sign-stealing conspiracy and the NCAA’s investigation into it has been that head coach Jim Harbaugh may leave for the NFL if the NCAA imposes major fines on him and the school. There could be consequences for more than just sign-stealing. While Harbaugh suffered a three-game ban for alleged recruiting infractions during an NCAA-mandated dead period around COVID-19 and for failing to cooperate with investigators, the NCAA has yet to rule on the case.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh facing 4-game suspension for breaking NCAA  rules, AP source says – The Oakland Press

However, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero claimed on Sunday that Harbaugh is unlikely to use the NFL as a “safe harbor” to avoid NCAA sanctions. They also mentioned former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, as well as a team-imposed ban he received from the Indianapolis Colts (where he was serving as a gameday consultant) in 2011 as precedent:

Terrell Pryor, a rookie at the time, was suspended for five games by the NFL in 2011. That was after the NCAA suspended Pryor for five games for an improper benefits case, and Pryor declared for the supplemental draft; the NFL announced that they would suspend Pryor (who was eventually selected in the third round of the supplemental draft by the then-Oakland Raiders) for the five games the NCAA had, and upheld his suspension on appeal. At the same time, Ohio State announced a five-game ban for Tressel, but he left to take over as head coach of the Colts. While the league did not discipline Tressel, the Colts did, and Tressel did not begin working for them until Week 7.

Jim Tressel, coaching legend at Ohio State and Youngstown State, to step  down as president of YSU -

The NFL has not traditionally punished NCAA transgressions with penalties. Many players who violated NCAA or particular school discipline at that level were not punished in the NFL. On the coaching side, many saw Pete Carroll’s 2010 move to the Seattle Seahawks as a way to avoid an NCAA hammer (the NCAA announced penalties for USC in June 2010, after Carroll’s January 2010 move, but that move occurred while that investigation and ruling were in the works), even though his punishment from them was vacated wins rather than a suspension.

So there is some validity to the notion that under-fire NCAA figures may simply leave for the NFL. And there has certainly been some interest in Harbaugh from that level; he was the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 to 2014, leading them to a Super Bowl appearance in 2012, and he interviewed for the Minnesota Vikings’ job two offseasons ago, as well as the Denver Broncos’ job last offseason. However, Rapoport and Pelissero’s sources indicate that NCAA penalties may still matter at the NFL level.

After Getting a Mouthful From Aaron Rodgers, Ian Rapoport Gets Absolutely  Grilled By Tom Pelissero - The SportsRush

There are a lot of unknowns in this situation. We don’t know what the NCAA’s punishment for the Wolverines will be, or if Harbaugh will face any personal consequences. We also don’t know if Harbaugh will leave Michigan or if he will pursue a career in the NFL. And we don’t know if an NFL franchise would hire him. However, it is intriguing to hear from prominent reporters who cite sources saying the NFL and its teams would likely reprimand coaches facing NCAA sanctions.


Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.