Judge will not rule on temporary restraining order for Jim Harbaugh on Saturday; suspension stands for now

Jim Harbaugh wasn't granted a temporary restraining order in time to coach Saturday.

A hearing in Washtenaw County (Michigan) is expected to be held on the matter Nov. 17, sources told Yahoo Sports.

No. 3 Michigan beat No. 10 Penn State 24-15 on Saturday without Harbaugh on the sideline.

Offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore served as interim head coach for the Wolverines.

“We look forward to presenting our case next week where we intend to demonstrate that the Big Ten has not acted legally or fairly,” Michigan said in a statement.

Judge Tim Connors was given the case late Friday night but chose not to make a ruling before the noon kickoff. Harbaugh traveled with the team to State College but, per the rules of the suspension, is barred from Beaver Stadium for the game.

Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti had previously suspended Harbaugh late Friday afternoon for three games — or the rest of the Wolverines' regular season — citing the league’s “sportsmanship” provision.

The punishment was in response to Michigan staff member Connor Stalions allegedly running an in-person scouting operation where he sent friends to games to video record the sideline play signals of future Michigan opponents.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was given a three-game suspension by the Big Ten on Friday. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was given a three-game suspension by the Big Ten on Friday. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Harbaugh’s attorneys had argued late Friday that a stay was needed because the Big Ten had overstepped the power granted to it, lacked sufficient evidence that Harbaugh had personally violated any rules and that a suspension would cause irreparable harm to both the coach and his players.

The Big Ten penalty allows Harbaugh to coach during the week, but sidelines him for the final three game days of the season.

Michigan’s final three regular-season games are at Penn State, at Maryland and at home in the end-of-season rivalry game against Ohio State.

Both the Wolverines and Buckeyes are currently 9-0 and that game will likely hold significant Big Ten championship and College Football Playoff implications. Harbaugh would be eligible to return for both the Big Ten title game on Dec. 2 and the CFP if Michigan qualified.

At the center of the case is Stalions, a former U.S. Naval Academy grad and Marine captain, on the staff and serving as both a recruiting analyst and a sign decipherer.

He is accused of sending as many as 65 people, according to Yahoo Sports sources, to record games across the Big Ten and the country. Yahoo Sports first reported on Oct. 19 that the NCAA was investigating Michigan after a third-party investigative firm — still yet to be identified — presented evidence of Stalions' actions.

Harbaugh immediately denied having any knowledge of how Stalions was able to gain information to steal signs. Harbaugh almost assuredly knew Stalions was stealing signs, but virtually every team in the country has someone who handles those duties. Stalions, who resigned from the program on Nov. 3, said through his attorney that no one at Michigan was aware of what he was doing.

It is legal under NCAA rules to steal an opponent’s signs. It is against the rules to “in-person scout.” Coaches routinely decipher signs via television broadcasts, coaching film and even during games. They also routinely “share” their findings with other coaches who are about to play a certain team.

While college coaches view the sharing of stolen signs as part of the game, some believed Stalions' actions to be dramatically different even though the result is essentially the same.

Big Ten coaches outlined that position in a conference call with Petitti that ESPN cited as “angry” and “demanding.” Apparently Petitti agreed and decided to apply the league’s little-used “sportsmanship” policy to immediately apply a penalty to Harbaugh even though the NCAA investigation is still ongoing and the association has not been able to present any findings to either Michigan or the Big Ten that Harbaugh was involved.

Thus far, sources told Yahoo Sports, the NCAA has found no ties to Harbaugh or knowledge that Harbaugh knew of Stalions' in-person tactics. Under a “strict liability rule” that just took effect this year, the NCAA can hold Harbaugh responsible for the actions of any of his assistants or staff members regardless of knowledge. The Big Ten has a similar rule, but it applies to “institutions,” not individual coaches.

In a letter sent to the Big Ten, Michigan has demanded the conference wait until the full NCAA investigation plays out before issuing a punishment, warning that a lack of “due process” is not only unfair on its own right but sets up a dangerous precedent that the league will regret going forward.

The 59-year-old Harbaugh is in his ninth season at his alma mater, posting an 80-25 record. He previously coached Stanford and the NFL's San Francisco 49ers and is almost annually linked as a candidate to professional football coaching vacancies. He served a school-issued three-game suspension at the start of this season for an unrelated NCAA infractions case.

Michigan has won the last two Big Ten championships, both with Stalions on staff.