You still have to play the game, but for all intents and purposes, Michigan is pretty much in the College Football Playoff. The Wolverines are 12-0 on the season and are a massive three-score favorite over the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Championship. Should the Wolverines win on Saturday, they will be a top-two seed in the final four-team playoff, depending on what Georgia does.
The last three weeks have been full of tumult for the Wolverines. While they were able to beat Penn State, Maryland and arch-rival Ohio State in succession to stay perfect, they were without their head coach in Jim Harbaugh. He was serving a three-game suspension levied by the Big Ten for compromising its sportsmanship clause because of Michigan's ongoing sign-stealing investigation.
Offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore filled in marvelously as the interim, winning critical conference games over divisional foes. While you and I or pretty much anybody could coach Michigan to a neutral-site victory over Iowa in Indianapolis on Saturday night, you better believe that Harbaugh will be back on the sidelines. He has served his three-game suspension and will be ready to rock, alright.
Yes, Harbaugh will be allowed to coach in the Big Ten Championship Game and throughout the College Football Playoff, should the Wolverines get that far. Harbaugh is here the rest of the way.
Michigan football: Can Jim Harbaugh coach in Big Ten Championship?
Regardless of whether Harbaugh is found guilty or negligent in the ongoing sign-stealing scandal plaguing Michigan, there was no way he was not going to be allowed to coach in the postseason for the Wolverines. Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti may not want to shake Harbaugh's hand after having to almost certainly hand him a trophy for winning his league, but it is the right call to let him coach here.
To be playing for a trip to the College Football Playoff is a huge deal for any team. It would be unprecedented for Harbaugh to be suspended by the Big Ten for its title bout, or by the NCAA the rest of the season. Then again, the College Football Playoff Selection Committee has no direct ties to either and can do whatever it damn well pleases. The Selection Committee is putting on a TV event.
To me, this Harbaugh being suspended for the conference title bout and subsequent four-team tournament would be on par with a top-flight assistant on any of these staffs going to take over as their new head coach elsewhere immediately. Guys like Tom Herman and Dan Lanning had to wait before taking over their new teams, whereas Lane Kiffin did not. Look for Fran Brown to stay at UGA.
Ultimately, you want Harbaugh coaching in these games because he is one of the very best at what he does. Moore could be an excellent head coach in his own right one day, but Michigan needs Harbaugh available on the sidelines if the Wolverines want to get past somebody like Alabama, Georgia, Oregon, Texas and Washington in either the national semifinals or the championship game.
Love him or hate him, Harbaugh will be on the sidelines for the Wolverines vs. Iowa, and beyond that.