Retiring Big Ten Referee Dan Capron Likens Jim Harbaugh to a Fourth-Grader

By Kevin Harrish on February 9, 2020 at 5:30 pm
Jim Harbaugh was a fourth grader
Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

After 20 seasons as a referee in the Big Ten, Dan Capron's probably got enough stories to write a book, but it would seem that Jim Harbaugh stands out.

Capron was lucky enough to have officiated the 2016 showdown between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan. His crew was responsible for the extremely precise overtime fourth-and-1 spot that gave J.T. Barrett a crucial first down, and also for the offsides call that caused Jim Harbaugh to fling his playcards onto the field.

It earned Harbaugh a well-deserved unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and three years later, Capron is still unimpressed by the antics, likening Harbaugh's actions to those of a fourth-grader.

"The head linesman — from the state of Michigan, not that it matters — (assessed the penalty). … Coach Harbaugh threw his clipboard out on the field. Well, that’s a no-brainer. First of all, he was complaining about an offside call, which is not the hardest in the book to make. It was a completely valid call.

You have to be able to control yourself. There’s a tremendous amount of gray area with the unsportsmanlike conduct call. His actions were black and white. If that head linesman doesn’t make that call, he’s going to get downgraded by the boss. And it’s going to cost him.

You throw something out on the field, I can understand that … if you’re a fourth-grader. If you’re an adult that’s paid (more than) $5 million a year to coach a major college football team, I would expect more."

Harbaugh, of course, railed the officials in his postgame press conference – earning him a $10,000 fine in the process. Still, though, he was still not the worst coach Capron ever dealt. That honor, he said, goes to Bo Pelini, and it's "not even close."

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