Jim Harbaugh didn’t mince words.
Michigan’s head coach was unhappy with the facilities provided to his team during Saturday’s game at Purdue. He wasn’t pleased with the visitor’s locker room, comparing it to a “hot box,” and he certainly wasn’t pleased with the medical equipment on hand. While speaking at his weekly press conference Monday afternoon, Harbaugh made it very clear that he believes there needs to be league-wide reform to prevent the type of situation his team encountered.
“We are going to look at everything we can do for the visiting team here at the University of Michigan as it relates to a standard of care for visitors,” Harbaugh said. “It’s become apparent after going around to all the visiting schools the last couple years that (there’s) a conscious effort of gamesmanship.
“It’s unsportsmanlike when you have locker rooms that are too small, (and) they’re not heated or cooled properly. In this case, (there was) no air conditioning.”
Part of Harbaugh’s frustration stemmed from the measures the Wolverines had to take to deal with the heat Saturday afternoon. According to Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports, Michigan staffers told him that “it was like 110-plus (degrees)” inside the locker room, while the temperature outside climbed to 89 degrees by kickoff. On Monday, Harbaugh confirmed that he had allowed players to wait onboard the team’s air-conditioned bus before the game for a brief reprieve from the elements.
It appears, though, that the biggest sticking point was Purdue’s insufficient medical equipment.
“I wish I’d have taken a picture of the actual table that was given to the visitors to put the players on when they’re injured,” Harbaugh said. “It looks like it was from the ‘20s. It was ripped. Just not good. I think that’s a pattern in the Big Ten.”
Harbaugh was particularly displeased with the fact that redshirt junior quarterback Wilton Speight — who suffered an injury in the first quarter — had to leave the stadium when he needed further medical testing.
“There needs to be a way to X-ray a player at the stadium,” Harbaugh said. “There needs to be a minimum standard of care for players. We put a lot of emphasis on health and safety of the players, but it didn’t even seem sanitary.
“… Injured players can’t get an X-ray. (Speight was) taken to a student health center in a van. We needed a brace for a player, and there wasn’t one at the facility we were taken to. A lot of things needed to be addressed. I would ask the rest of the Big Ten coaches to look into this as well. Make this a priority. We’re talking about all our players here.”
Harbaugh is no stranger to gamesmanship. It’s well-known that he searches for any way to gain a competitive advantage over opponents. But this is one area that he believes should be left alone — and he’s willing to take charge in leading efforts for reform.
“We’ll start first with us and make sure that when you have guests, when you have visitors coming in, their health and safety needs need to be addressed,” Harbaugh said. “… It needs to be addressed by the commissioner and I would hope it would be looked into immediately.
“… Gamesmanship should cease at the line of health and safety for the players.”