Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh would not be goaded into saying “Go Bucks!” during his weekly radio appearance on the “Stoney and Bill Show,” but he made clear the Wolverines know exactly how things must play out on Saturday.
And that means the Wolverines must win at Penn State on Saturday and then — gasp! — hope Ohio State beats Michigan State in Columbus.
If that transpires, that sets up the Michigan-Ohio State regular season finale on Nov. 28 at Michigan Stadium as the game to decide the Big Ten East Division winner and representative in the Big Ten championship game.
Harbaugh was asked Thursday morning whether his Michigan coach, the late Bo Schembechler, would root for Ohio State to beat Michigan State.
“Well, I think he’d be rooting for what’s best with Michigan like we all are,” Harbaugh said on the show. “You never know exactly what to root for because you never know how things always play out. That one seems pretty clear. What’s best for Michigan is first that we take care of our business and let the chips fall where they may.”
Mike Stone, the show’s co-host, revealed his inability to say “Go Bucks,” which began a spirited exchange with Harbaugh.
“I can’t cheer sit there and cheer for Ohio State touchdowns,” Stone said.
Harbaugh: “Why can’t you?”
Stone: “I hate Ohio State so much.”
Harbaugh: “Hate? Why would you associate the word HATE with collegiate sports? That’s always confused me, the word hate. … I know what’s the best outcome for us.”
Stone: “You can’t say ‘Go Bucks’ either, can you?
Harbaugh: “Yeah, what’s best for Michigan is what I’ll be …"
Then more goading from the crew to say “Go Bucks!”
“I’d say it,” said Harbaugh, laughing. “But I’m not going to say it because you’re telling me to say it.”
Harbaugh and his players have been consistent with their responses since last week when it became clear that an Ohio State victory over Michigan State, provided Michigan continues to win, would be in the Wolverines’ best interest.
Michigan offensive tackle Erik Magnuson was asked this week if he will be an Ohio State fan on Saturday. Michigan plays Penn State at noon, and then Michigan State and Ohio State are at 3:30 p.m.
“Not necessarily a fan,” Magnuson said this week after Tuesday's practice. “If they win, obviously it helps us a lot. I don’t think I’d ever consider myself an Ohio State fan, but yes, I want them to win, put it that way.”
Harbaugh also was asked about Schembechler’s influence on his career. The nine-year anniversary of Schembechler’s passing was Tuesday.
“So many things, professionally and personally, so many things that anybody that was associated with Bo Schembechler whether they played for him or coached on his staff, friends, family, were profoundly affected by the man,” Harbaugh told the show. “His will, his humor, everything about him, his morals, his integrity. He was a mighty man.
“What have I adopted as a person and professionally is so many things that daily I am inspired by my coach. This week, his passing nine years ago, I’m inspired daily, but I think everybody that was associated with him, it’s a special day, the anniversary of his passing. He’s a mighty man. You feel fortunate you crossed paths with him, and I know I do.”