Saturday afternoon — soon after Ohio State demolished Michigan, 56-27 — Jim Harbaugh took offense to a reporter’s question about the reason for the vast gap in success between the Buckeyes and Wolverines, and the answer went viral.
“I’ll answer your questions, not your insults.”
As often happens when tweets and articles take a moment like that and race to blast it all over the internet as soon as possible, the identity of the person asking the question isn’t known. All of those tweets and posts simply refer to “a reporter.” We did it here at Awful Announcing.
Soon thereafter, Toledo sportscaster Jordan Strack admitted that he was the one who asked the question Harbaugh considered insulting. Video of the exchange with Harbaugh hit Twitter and Strack’s phone blew up with messages while he was still at the post-game press conference.
Jim Harbaugh was insulted when I asked him what the difference is between Michigan and Ohio State. pic.twitter.com/U2s091hvDM
— Jordan Strack (@JordanStrack) November 30, 2019
“I was sitting at the post-game presser and the video was already tweeted out,” said Strack, currently the sports director at WTOL 11. “I had already started getting text messages from friends and other people. I had no idea and was like, ‘Wait, what is going on?'”
During a phone conversation Sunday, Strack said he didn’t expect the response to his question, asking whether it was a talent gap, a preparation gap, or coaching gap responsible for Ohio State’s dominance — especially in the past two years — over Michigan.
“I’m kind of shocked. It’s been a wild 24 hours or so,” said Strack. “When I asked it, I thought it was a fair, honest question. I wasn’t looking for anything.”
Honestly what did you expect him to say? You obviously thought about that question long enough.. to ask a pal to video it so that ..everyone knew that you were the one who asked the question that ended up all over @espn.
— Derek Anderson (@DAnderson314) December 1, 2019
Much of the criticism directed at Strack is based on the belief that he was asking a “gotcha” question and staged the circumstance so it would be on video. (Former NFL quarterback Derek Anderson was among the naysayers.)
However, Strack says that approach has never been his style. He was filmed asking the question because two co-workers, a reporter and producer, were in the room (WTOL did a three-hour pregame show) and turned the camera in his direction when the microphone was making its way to him. Everyone on the team was working different coverage, so Strack hadn’t communicated with his colleagues for nearly five hours.
I think it's a bad question because there is no way for Harbaugh to honestly answer it without him throwing someone, either his players or his coaches, under the bus
— Paul Wezner (@TigsTown) December 1, 2019
Should Strack have asked a question that Harbaugh wasn’t likely to answer — if it meant calling out players and coaches — in a postgame environment? He says he had no idea what Harbaugh’s response would be, but it was a fair question that needed to be asked.
“Jim Harbaugh makes $7.5 million a year and since he’s got there, the gap between Michigan and Ohio State has widened significantly,” Strack said. “I felt like it was important for someone to ask him why that’s the case.”
Additionally, if Michigan holds its weekly Tuesday press conference now that the regular season is over, Strack was not going to be there with Toledo 45 minutes away from Ann Arbor. Typically, Michigan sends video to the station, knowing it’s more difficult for WTOL’s sportscasters to attend weekly press conferences.
Some Michigan fans see that Strack works in Ohio and automatically assumes that he favors the Buckeyes, but he followed Michigan football long before getting his dream job in his hometown, where he’s worked for the past 11 years.
“My history has shown, on Twitter and everything else, I am critical, honest, and fair about everything I cover,” Strack said. “I don’t think it’s my job to worry about Jim Harbaugh’s feelings, and I don’t think it’s my job to worry about how Jim Harbaugh is going to take it or respond to it.”