Michigan Self-Imposes 3-Game Suspension on Harbaugh; ACC Trying To Revive Expansion Discussions

August 23, 2023 by CollegeFootballPoll.com Staff

As the 2023 college football season grows closer, two of the biggest topics making waves this week are the University of Michigan's action of self-imposing a 3-game suspension of head coach Jim Harbaugh, and the ACC wrangling to solve its revenue share issue to satisfy the likes of Clemson and Florida State.

As little over a week ago, the NCAA kicked the can down the road on a decision to accept, or deny, a negotiated resolution of a four-game suspension of the head coach for lying to investigators about meeting with recruits during a COVID-19 dead period.

The school is hoping that a self-imposed 3-game suspension, announced Monday, will stave-off further penalties. Michigan could easily survive the absence of its head coach for the first 5 games as the school plays four straight at home against vastly out-manned opposition, and then heads to Nebraska. The Wolverines start the year with East Carolina, UNLV, Bowling Green and Rutgers as favorites by 32 points or more in each contest, according to the Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com. The first road game finds Michigan as a 25-point pick at Nebraska.

After that, comes a possible trap game at Minnesota. The biggest threats are back-loaded with a trip to Penn State on November 11 and a home bout with Ohio State in the traditional season finale on November 25.

The school had not named an interim head coach, as of Wednesday, but offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore is the most-likely choice.

Michigan Statement

The University of Michigan Athletic Department today (August 21) announced that it is self-imposing sanctions in an ongoing NCAA matter related to its football program.

Included in the self-imposed sanctions is a three-game suspension for Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, to be served during the opening three regular-season games of the 2023 season. The sanctions are in addition to previously imposed recruiting restrictions.

“While the ongoing NCAA matter continues through the NCAA process, today’s announcement is our way of addressing mistakes that our department has agreed to in an attempt to further that process,” said Warde Manuel, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics. “We will continue to support coach Harbaugh, his staff, and our outstanding student-athletes. Per the NCAA’s guidelines, we cannot comment further until the matter is resolved.”

An announcement on interim coaching appointments will be made at a future date.

ACC Expansion

The ACC is between a (Howard's) rock and a hard place in trying to navigate the issue before it. Namely, their broadcast rights deal is awful and has every team in the conference at a disadvantage in revenue, relative to their Power 5 peers. Florida State may be chirping the loudest about wanting out, but Clemson would be more-than-willing to bail in tandem with FSU to either the SEC or the Big Ten. 

Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia and Virginia Tech have been exploring options, as well. Each of those programs desperately needs it top administrators to understand that temporarily being left behind could translate to permanently being left out.

While they were already trying to deal with the revenue share situation for the existing schools, realignment began to run rampant and the ACC is now trying to determine if adding PAC-12 orphans Cal and Stanford, along with current American Conference member SMU, can be a financial help or hindrance.

Those three schools are not making it easy to be turned down, as they've expressed a willingness to take a hit on revenue sharing while adding the major markets of the Metroplex (Dallas-Fort Worth) and the Bay Area (San Francisco-San Jose) to exposure. The move also helps other schools potentially gain greater access to recruiting California and Texas.

The negative is the money it will coast to fund travel for the non-revenue sports teams of each institution, let alone for football and basketball..

Subtraction by addition is not a good outcome.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame wants the ACC to add Cal and Stanford. Under its current arrangement with the ACC, the Irish are members in every sport except football. Notre Dame, however, is contractually obligated to play at least 5 ACC teams each year which adds to the revenue stream.

Stanford is going through a rough period in football, but is widely regarded as one of the top athletic programs in the nation. The Cardinal also serve as a regular rival for Notre Dame, and it's getting increasingly difficult for an independent to schedule 12 football games without going light.

Adding Cal, and we mean no disrespect to the Golden Bears, is an appeasement to Notre Dame. Adding Cal also helps Stanford by having the two west coast rivals stick together.

Adding SMU puts a dot in the middle of the country so that not every trip is coast to coast.

The best outcome for the ACC would be the addition of  Notre Dame as a full-time member. There are very few people who believe the door is open to that, but stranger things have been happening. Adding Notre Dame could open a renegotiation opportunity, if not a bidding war. Then, and perhaps only then, could adding Cal, Stanford and SMU make perfect sense.