Very often in the build-up to big sporting events, we reach a point where it’s clear that the game just needs to be played. There are no more questions left to be asked because virtually everything has been covered, and the players and coaches involved have nothing more to say.
Yet press conferences and interviews continue to be held in the days leading up to the game because time needs to be filled, obligations need to met, sponsors may even need to be catered to.
We have apparently reached that point with the 2016 Orange Bowl, one day before Michigan and Florida State kick off at 8 p.m. ET on Friday (Dec. 30). During a press conference on Wednesday, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh faced a rather awkward and entirely non-football related line of questioning that surely caused everyone in that room to cringe, along with everyone else who’s since learned about it online.
Harbaugh was asked about bikinis and whether or not his players had seen any women wearing them during their time in Miami. Really. Here is a transcript of the exchange, courtesy of Land of 10’s Rachel Lenzi:
This question was just … awkward. It was like women in the profession had been set back 35 years. pic.twitter.com/K4he5vzbzA
— Rachel Lenzi (@RLenziCMG) December 29, 2016
If you need some video to truly believe this happened (and we’re right there with you), someone thankfully taped the exchange (presumably with a cell phone).
A capital J Journalist asked Jim Harbaugh about bikinis and got the answer she deserved pic.twitter.com/gRFlbMmBi3
— Jack McGuire (@TailgateHeisman) December 29, 2016
Harbaugh takes a lot of guff for how much exposure he receives from the media and the sometimes baffling things he says, whether to get a response or just to fill the air with words.
But sometimes, the coach (any coach, really) is confronted with perplexing questions, perhaps because he’s been candid about a variety of subjects. For instance, he was asked about his love for oranges at the presser (via Busted Coverage). However, bikinis and football players getting to see them on the beach is just absurd territory that even Harbaugh couldn’t have been reasonably expected to address.
Naturally, the question became who asked Harbaugh about bikinis. Initial reports did not include that information, only saying that a television reporter broached that line of questioning. According to MLive’s David Mayo, the culprit was ESPN’s Jeannine Edwards.
The ridiculous bikini question sequence to Harbaugh by ESPN's Jeannine Edwards, for which any male would have been excoriated: pic.twitter.com/alZIFUFf6Z
— David Mayo (@David_Mayo) December 29, 2016
Can’t blame this one on a local sportscaster or reporter asked to cover sports for a week, as it turns out. Maybe it should have expected from a TV reporter, since the intent seemed to be fishing for a good sound bite that could easily play on newscasts and sportscasts throughout the country.
But well, doesn’t it seem beneath someone from ESPN? It was at the end of the presser, however, and maybe Edwards felt like she had to ask something while she had Harbaugh at the podium. Yet in this case, it was probably better not to ask a question at all rather than venture into frivolous — and arguably inappropriate — territory.
You can read the entire transcript of Harbaugh’s press conference at ASAP Sports.