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Harbaugh keeps bowl-skipping talk in-house

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh

Ann Arbor — If Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh has spoken to his team about the recent news of players skipping out on bowl games to focus on pre-NFL draft training, he’s not saying.

Harbaugh frequently avoids commenting on what he calls the latest college football “hot topic,” and he did so during his radio show, “Inside Michigan Football” on Wednesday night and afterwards while speaking briefly to reporters.

The issue has come to light after  LSU running back Leonard Fournette (Citrus) and Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey (Sun) said they were skipping their respective bowl games.

“They ask me like I’m going to shed some light,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t have a statement to make.”

Later, Harbaugh said it was a team matter.

 

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“As usual, per principle we talk about what we talk about as a team. It’s not for public consumption,” he said.

Does he expect all of his players to participate in the Orange Bowl against Florida State on Dec. 30?

“Our conversations are our conversations,” Harbaugh said.

Senior co-captain Chris Wormley said Wednesday that Harbaugh simply told the players if they have an questions to ask him.

Quarterback Wilton Speight played in the regular-season finale against Ohio State with an injured left shoulder, although no one has been specific about the nature of the injury. He was hurt late in the Iowa game, missed the following week against Indiana and played at OSU.

“All I know in football you get injured and you get banged up, and you owe it to your teammates because that’s what a good teammate does,” Speight said after appearing on the radio show. “It’s not about saying, ‘Oh, this might risk my future.’

“I want to play in the NFL, and I know I was putting myself at risk against Ohio State, but you don’t come this far with your teammates starting the first of the year in January, the offseason workouts at 6 a.m. and get all the way through spring ball and camp to say, ‘I’m not going to fight for you guys.’”

With that in mind, it seems unlikely Speight would be in favor of players skipping bowl games for draft prep. 

Speight has gotten to know the McCaffrey family since their son, Dylan, a quarterback, has committed to Michigan’s 2017 class. 

“At the end of the day, the NCAA gets a lot out of us for probably not as much in return,” Speight said. “I don’t speak on that often. I don’t go out on Twitter and share my views, but (McCaffrey’s) doing what he thinks is necessary. It probably is a smart decision. Me, personally, I wouldn’t do that.

“You’ve got to look at his history. He’s been banged up all year with an ankle and something else. You see he’s been banged up all year, and he’s been giving his team all he had. After coach Harbaugh left (Stanford) he was kind of the next face of that franchise and kept them up and relevant. You’ve seen his teammates voice their opinions on Twitter and they’re all in support. You have to do your research. You can’t just say that guy says ‘I’m thinking about myself only.’ When Stanford makes that much money off you, and you do so much for your team and teammates, sometimes you have to make a selfish decision.”

Missing the game

Sarah Harbaugh, Harbaugh’s pregnant wife, will miss the trip to Miami, though.

She is late in her pregnancy with their fourth child, and there is a Zika virus threat in south Florida.

“Don’t want to put that little human at risk,” Harbaugh said.

achengelis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @chengelis