Ravens’ John Harbaugh on Jim Harbaugh’s suspension at Michigan: ‘They don’t have anything of substance’

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Ravens coach John Harbaugh on Tuesday provided an impassioned defense of his brother, Jim Harbaugh, amid Michigan’s sign-stealing scandal.

When asked for his opinion on Jim Harbaugh’s suspension by the Big Ten Conference, John Harbaugh said four times he was “proud” of his brother for how he’s “handled himself through all this.”

Jim Harbaugh was suspended three games Friday — the rest of the No. 3-ranked Wolverines’ regular season — for a sign-stealing scheme that is also under investigation by the NCAA. In his ninth season at Michigan, Jim Harbaugh has denied any knowledge of illegal scouting within his program.

John Harbaugh, 15 months Jim Harbaugh’s senior, said his brother has “come through this thing with flying colors” and that the Big Ten and NCAA “don’t have anything of substance.”

“I’m proud as heck of him,” John Harbaugh said. “I’m really impressed with the way he’s handled himself through all this. I mean, it’s been a long run and everything can be done — you know, his phones and his computers and all this stuff has been looked at, and he’s come through this thing with flying colors.”

The Big Ten said the Wolverines violated the conference’s sportsmanship policy through the program’s “impermissible, in-person scouting operation over multiple years” that gave Michigan “an unfair competitive advantage that compromised the integrity of competition.” In a letter sent to Michigan, Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti said the conference did not have evidence that Jim Harbaugh was aware of the scheme and that the sanction was of the university, not its football coach.

“I don’t know what they tried to get, but they don’t have anything of substance,” said John Harbaugh, whose Ravens defeated his brother’s San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII in February 2013. “And I just think I’m proud of him. I think it’s a real compliment to our family and to him, something for us to be proud of. And his kids can see this. You get in this kind of situation where you come under fire for whatever reasons and you come out in a really good place doing the right thing all the time. And I’m really proud of that, and I think it’s great for a family, kids and it’s just a great blessing in that sense.

“He’s a great man, he’s a great coach, his players love him, his coaches love him, and he stands tall through all this.”

Jim Harbaugh’s suspension allows him to coach the team during the week, but he isn’t allowed on the sidelines through the regular season. The undefeated Wolverines defeated No. 12 Penn State on the road Saturday afternoon. They travel to College Park this Saturday to play the Terps, and whether Jim Harbaugh will be allowed to coach the game or not remains unknown. Michigan filed for a temporary restraining order, and Harbaugh’s hearing before the judge is scheduled for Friday.

“I’m just looking for that opportunity, due process,” Jim Harbaugh said during his weekly news conference. “I’m not looking for special treatment. I’m not looking for a popularity contest. I’m just looking for the merit for what the case is.”

The Associated Press contributed to this article.


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