Jim Harbaugh explains Michigan's 'Clint Eastwood' victory over Nebraska

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Sometimes you think you understand a reference Jim Harbaugh makes. Sometimes you pretend to understand a reference he makes. And sometimes you just don’t get his reference.

The Michigan coach, after his team beat Nebraska, 32-29, on Jake Moody’s 39-yard field goal with 1:24 left last Saturday night, spoke again about the Wolverines not flinching, a description he used a week earlier after the had beaten Wisconsin on the road.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh has Michigan off to a 6-0 start.

Michigan (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) is ranked No. 8 nationally and doesn’t have a game this weekend.

He finds different ways to describe his team and wins, but this was a new one after the win at Nebraska: “That was a Clint Eastwood win. We’re gonna enjoy it.”

It seemed like it made sense, after all, Eastwood has played a lot of characters who never flinched. He has played characters who would be described as gritty. But just what did Harbaugh mean by that? He explained Monday during his weekly news conference.

“There’s so many Clint Eastwood things whether it was 'Gran Torino' or 'Dirty Harry' or 'Unforgiven,' some different things,” Harbaugh said, laughing. “Suffice it to say, make my day, go ahead, make my day. But there are some other ones that I’ll keep in my own mind.”

Of course the reference to “Go ahead, make my day,” is from the 1983 movie “Sudden Impact." Eastwood played Harry Callahan, and that quote is considered one of the most memorable in movie history.

Family loss

Harbaugh will not attend Tuesday’s practice because he will be out of state attending services for his wife Sarah’s mother, Alta Feuerborn, 84, who passed away Sept. 24.

“We’re going to celebrate what she brought every single day to so many people and the love and the support, a natural life-giver and care-giver and healer, just a wonderful, wonderful person,” Harbaugh said.

Alta and her husband, Merle, raised 11 children.

Harbaugh said this will be the first practice he has ever missed as a player or coach.

Bell update

Receiver Ronnie Bell, a captain this year, will undergo surgery soon, Harbaugh said, for the knee injury he suffered in the season opener against Western Michigan. Bell has been on the sideline for every game this season.

“Gonna be on crutches for a month, and knowing Ronnie, he’ll be right back here coaching,” Harbaugh said. “He’s been incredible. He’s been helping out coaching guys at practice, in meetings and games.”

More: Former Michigan captain Eric Mayes: Injured Bell must 'still believe in himself'

Mike Sainristil, who had two catches in last Saturday’s win at Nebraska, including a 48-yard catch, said Bell has been a leader with his position group and team.

“It sucks that we lost Ronnie,” Sainristil said Monday. “He’s done a great job of holding every receiver in the room accountable and his presence is definitely felt on the sideline. He’s vocal, he’s engaged at all times during the game, and Ronnie’s always going to be Ronnie.”

Noon for Northwestern

Michigan kicks off the second half of the season Oct. 23 against Northwestern at Michigan Stadium in a noon kickoff, the Big Ten announced Monday.

The game will be carried on Fox.

achengelis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @chengelis