Can you imagine what would happen if every coach and athlete that was criticized on a radio or TV show went after the person who was critical of them? It would be total chaos, because these days, criticism is something that comes with the job when you sign up to coach or play sports. Go turn on ESPN or Fox Sports or any local sports talk radio show right now, and you’ll see what we mean within about two seconds.
Most coaches and athletes are good about blocking out the noise and ignoring their critics, but after what he heard from one particularly vocal critic on Tuesday, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh wasn’t able to do it. CBS Sports radio host Jim Rome openly mocked Harbaugh on his show after Harbaugh walked out of a press conference earlier this week following a tense interaction with reporters. Harbaugh suspended two players for missing a team photo session on Michigan’s media day and didn’t want to talk about it when he was asked to name the players who were going to serve a suspension. So he walked out of his presser, which caused Rome to go on this lengthy rant about Harbaugh’s behavior:
"What that is a jerk move by the coach. That is not an unfair question or an unfair line of questioning. Like coach, you have multiple players unaccounted for, nobody knows where they are or what happened to them.
“You know why they want a second question, a third question, Jim? Because you didn’t answer the first question. If you answered the first question, there would be no need for a second question, a third question a fourth question …
“Maybe you forgot over the summer that it’s their job to cover your team, not ask you what your favorite Drake album is. Just like they’re not there to write another tired story about your latest throwback jersey, or your Walmart khakis, or your latest shirtless photo from satellite camp, or another crackback on the SEC. They’re not on your staff, they do not work for the university. You preside over an alleged national power. If you suspend guys, reporters are going to ask you about it. They’re just doing their job, so you should do yours and answer the question."
Rome went on and on and on (the Detroit Free Press has more quotes from Rome, if you're interested). Harbaugh eventually heard what Rome had to say about him, and he fired back at him on Twitter. He brought up the time Rams quarterback Jim Everett—a former Big 10 quarterback at Purdue—flipped over a table during an interview with Rome, which is widely regarded as one of the most awkward sports interview moments of all time:
Rome didn’t seem to mind. Clearly happy that he was able to work his way under Harbaugh’s skin, Rome sent out this tweet a short time later:
In hindsight, Harbaugh probably would have been better off just answering the questions reporters asked him about his suspended players. He could have kept the media off his back and avoided a war of words with Rome. But it's too late for that, and now he's going to have to deal with all the hoopla surrounding this story instead of simply focusing on preparing his Michigan players for their first game of the 2016 season.