Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh has never been one to hold back on his complaints.
Anyone who has paid any attention to Harbaugh throughout his coaching career has seen his vehement disagreements of calls and non-calls, and has heard him complain about officiating in a post-game presser quite often.
However, Harbaugh’s complaints reached a new level this week after his team visited Ross-Ade Stadium, where the Wolverines played the Purdue Boilermakers.
In Harbaugh’s weekly press conference on Monday, he did not mince his words when discussing the state of the visiting locker room.
“It was so cramped, it was so hot. It was like a hot box,” Harbaugh said. “Really, the only way to get relief was to open the doors. Again, you have people watching you dress. It’s not good. It’s not good. I’ve seen this at other facilities in the Big Ten. It needs to be addressed by the commissioner. I would hope they would look into it immediately. Hope that it does some good.”
As we found out prior to the start of the 2017 season, Harbaugh enjoys the finer things in life, such as $128 Lululemon khaki pants, so it doesn’t surprise me that he would think a visiting locker room is not up to his standards.
Michigan’s radio broadcast reported the on-field, game-time temperature for Saturday’s Michigan-Purdue tilt was 101 degrees. According to Weather Underground, the high temperature in West Lafayette, Ind., on Saturday was 91 degrees, which falls just short of the daily record for Sept. 23 of 93 degrees, which occurred back in 2010.
The average high temperature in West Lafayette on Sept. 23 is 75 degrees, but it was much higher this year due to an area of high pressure parked off the East Coast, which leads to stable air and clear skies, which in turn can lead to higher temps... This has been your weather report. Now back to Ryan, with sports commentary.
With cooler temps often occurring during football season, maybe Purdue feels as though there is no need to install air conditioning into a lesser-used space?
Previously, Harbaugh praised global warming on his radio show in October 2016, saying that it leads to summer-like October days in Ann Arbor, which helps recruiting for Michigan. When climate change is in effect in another city, he’s not happy about it.
You would think with Lululemon’s sweat-wicking Warpstreme fabric, Harbaugh would be plenty comfortable in warm conditions.
Harbaugh also expressed his frustration with the fact that injured quarterback Wilton Speight had to be transported by van to a student health building to receive an x-ray.
Following Harbaugh’s complaints, Purdue clapped back in a statement from the program:
“To help teams prepare in advance, our visiting team manual highlights in bold type, ‘There is no air conditioning in the [visiting] locker room,’ with accompanying Purdue Athletics staff contact information about how to request preferred temporary accommodations. We did not receive any such request.”
“Basic X-ray is available within our athletic footprint and more sophisticated capabilities are located two blocks away, similar to the arrangements at many other schools. Our sports medicine staff members, in fact, have received numerous compliments from their Michigan counterparts regarding the care they received at Purdue.”
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer also echoed Harbaugh’s complaints, calling for the conference to come up with some standards pertaining to visiting locker rooms.
While I can understand Harbaugh and Meyer’s desire for nicer accommodations when visiting an opposing school, I don’t think they should be addressed.
When an opposing school is coming into your house, they are there to defeat you. Why would you roll out the red carpet for them and make things easier?
Visiting locker rooms should be a place where you wage psychological warfare on your opponent. It should be a space where they feel cramped and uncomfortable. It should be a place that the opposition hates visiting.
Legendary Iowa head coach Haden Fry earned a master’s degree in psychology and it showed with the update he made to the visiting locker room at Kinnick Stadium after taking over as head coach in 1978. The locker room walls are painted pink because Fry read that the color has a calming effect on a person. Fry even wrote in his book, A High Porch, “When I talk to an opposing coach before a game and he mentions the pink walls, I know I’ve got him.”
It appears that most Big Ten schools agree with Fry and myself, as ESPN reporter Adam Rittenberg reported the following after discussing the state of locker rooms in the Big Ten with a former assistant coach:
Here's how a former Big Ten assistant assessed 12 of the visiting locker rooms in the league. It's definitely a problem. Illinois = pathetic. Purdue = pathetic. Nebraska = OK. Wisconsin = OK. Iowa = OK. Michigan = below average. Michigan State = pathetic. Minnesota = nice. Maryland = pathetic. Northwestern = pathetic. Penn State = OK. Ohio State = below average.
One thing I noticed on this list is that the two coaches who have complained publicly have visiting locker rooms that rated as “below average.”
The former assistant also went as far as to say:
“If every school is getting $40 million a year, one thing that should be mandatory is for each site to have a modernized visitor’s locker room.”
In a perfect world, the visiting locker room would be a safe haven for opposing teams to relax before a game, but this is real life and visiting locker rooms are meant to be a place of discomfort.
We will see if Harbaugh echoes similar complaints when the Wolverines visit Madison on Nov. 18. Knowing him, something is bound to get his Lululemon’s in a bunch ... and I mean that figuratively, as everyone knows that they don’t bunch due to their Warpstreme four-way stretch fabric.