I thought that myself when I read that article that talked about a Data Scientist(tm)
|HC @ San Francisco||2011-14|
|HC @ Stanford||2007-10|
|HC @ San Diego||2004-06|
|QB @ Oakland||2002-03|
|GA(?) @ WKU||1994-01|
|QB at Michigan, 1983-86|
|QB, various NFL, 1987-2001|
Jim Harbaugh is a high-functioning lunatic. The other way to say this is "FOOTBALL COACH," all-caps mandatory. Raised by a high-functioning lunatic who exhorted his kids to attack each day with "an enthusiasm unknown to mankind," coached by a high-functioning lunatic who could repeat "the team" until it became a mantra to live by, brother to a high-functioning lunatic who beat him in a Super Bowl, Jim Harbaugh was born to do this job, in this place, at this time.
Jim Harbaugh repeatedly shoots ten-year-olds to win laser tag. He smears his players' blood on his face as war paint. He yells at ESPN camera crews to talk to his quarterback instead of him when his third-string pottery major orchestrates the biggest upset in the history of college football. He quotes Bo and his dad, who is also of Bo, probably without even realizing it anymore. He will not get yelled at when ordering at Blimpy, and he is the fifth-winningest NFL coach of all time. He resurrected Stanford from the dead and set them up for their longest sustained success ever. He can recite Bob Ufer calls from memory.
He is the head coach of the University of Michigan. Finally.
Harbaugh's coaching career actually started while he was still an NFL player. Not content with merely being a quarterback, Harbaugh started helping out with father Jack's Western Kentucky program. Harbaugh was a freelance recruiter:
The plan was simple: Jim owned a home in Orlando, the heart of one of the most talent-rich recruiting areas in the country. So he became an NCAA-certified volunteer assistant coach for WKU, which allowed him to recruit. John, meanwhile, leaned on the scouting services, deep contacts and endless high school game footage they had at Cincinnati, which as a Division I-A school had a far larger budget than Division I-AA Western Kentucky.
…That's how Willie Taggart came home one day from track practice at Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee High School and got a message from his sister.
"She told me a guy by the name of Jim Harbaugh called," Taggart said. "I was like, 'What?' "
Harbaugh recruited 17 kids on WKU's 2002 I-AA national championship team, after which both Jim and Jack retired—Jack from coaching, Jim from the NFL. The next year Harbaugh was the Raiders' QB coach, and two years after that he left, crazily, for San Diego, a non-scholarship I-AA school.
In San Diego he inherited at 8-2 outfit, but one that had bounced around .500 for the previous four years. Harbaugh went 7-4 in year one and then took the Toreros to back to back conference championships—their first ever. He was 11-1 in both of those years, and finished 2005 as the #1 team in the mid-major (ie: non-scholarship) I-AA poll. That's a sort of national title.
After Harbaugh's third year at San Diego, a plainly desperate Stanford took a flier on him. After the departure of Ty Willingham to Notre Dame, Stanford hired Buddy Teevens. Teevens lasted only three years, winning all of five conference games and never finishing better than 4-7. Pitt head coach Walt Harris was brought in, had a decent first season, and then cratered. Stanford was one of the worst teams in D-I in Harris's second season, going 1-11. Harris lost to San Jose State and suffered humiliating blowouts against most of the schedule: 48-10 against Oregon, 37-9 against Navy, 38-3 against Arizona State, etc etc etc. Stanford was 110th in the 2006 S&P ratings (FEI only goes back to '07), barely ahead of Eastern Michigan.
[Italics == not coached by Harbaugh]
Harbaugh instantly took Stanford from one of the worst teams in the country to competitive, and then depending on which metric you're looking at either had an unlucky and high quality 2009 or made an enormous leap in 2010.
Stanford is an interesting case in the context of these rating systems: S&P is a play-based metric that prizes explosiveness. FEI uses drives and doesn't care if you take 1 or 15 plays to get to the endzone. Harbaugh Stanford was manball to end all manball, and unsurprisingly FEI is generally more enthused than S&P. Harbaugh defied statistical convention—S&P has very good reasons to prize explosiveness—to create one of the ass-kickingest teams in all of college football. In a world where the spread has come to dominate, Harbaugh is a proven outlier.
Harbaugh also built a program. When I do these I generally like to see declines when the coach in question is a coordinator. That shows the guy was able to do more with basically the same talent. But when he's in charge of the whole shebang sustained quality after departure is a good sign, especially when the program you left decides their best course of action is to hire internally to keep a good thing going. When Brady Hoke left Ball State after their breakout year, the Cardinals went with an entirely new staff and immediately collapsed back to the pack. When Harbaugh left Stanford, they hired his offensive coordinator, attempted to preserve everything he'd brought the program, and ripped off three consecutive 11-win seasons.
By the time Harbaugh had built Stanford into Football Ron Swanson, he was the hottest coaching prospect anywhere, college or pro. In 2011 he accepted the 49ers job, taking over a franchise that hadn't been to the playoffs since 2002 and was coming off a 6-10 year.
Harbaugh instantly made them excellent.
|Team||Year||Record||DVOA – overall||DVOA – D||DVOA – O|
In year one the Niners went from a –41 point differential to +151, went 13-3, and lost in the NFC championship game. The next year he made the Super Bowl, losing a three-point game to his brother. In 2013 the Niners were one infamous Richard Sherman play away from returning to the Super Bowl. It was only this year, long after the Niners management had undermined Harbaugh's tenure, that the 49ers slipped to average. Even then they went 8-8 despite facing an avalanche of injuries. The main reason they weren't in the playoff hunt was the NFC South losing every game outside of its division.
Even with the slip to .500 in year four, it would take a truly moronic owner to cast Jim Harbaugh aside. Jed York is that man. And now Michigan has theirs.
[After THE JUMP: Xs and Os, recruiting, HARBAUGH.]
I made a hype video.
How did Michigan get a top five NFL coach to come back to college? There's actually one word for it: passion.
The school is so passionate about football that it was willing to give Harbaugh whatever tools and control he asked for. The big money donors are so passionate that they offered to finance NFL-/Saban-like money for Harbaugh and a top-echelon staff. The fans are so passionate that they flooded onto every message board and commented on every medium every time some writer or TV person seemed likely to breath so much as "Har…" Jim's friends and former teammates are so passionate that they reportedly formed a train of callers and kept up an unrelenting press since November. And finally Jim is so passionate about his school that he gave up/set aside his (apparently real) NFL aspirations to come back to the farm.
College doesn't have the NFL's money, nor its cachet, nor is it the pinnacle of the sport. But the thing about college football is we care way more. That's why it happened.
SITE NOTE: we're caching the front page hardcore. Logins don't work on it, but will work on other pages.
It has happened. Jim Harbaugh will be Michigan's head coach starting Tuesday. The race to tell you water is wet is on in earnest, but with even ESPN grudgingly admitting it, it's 100%. These four gentlemen were the first:
I just got off the phone with more sources tonight. It's done. Jim Harbaugh is coming to Michigan - and his friends are flying in Monday.
— John U. Bacon (@Johnubacon) December 28, 2014
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 28, 2014
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) December 28, 2014
Summation per multiple sources (including one within 49ers organization) - Michigan Expecting to Name Harbaugh Coach http://t.co/3dRTBHfYiu
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) December 28, 2014
John Clayton is saying it's "100%" with Harbaugh pinging NFL assistants about their desire to come with him; there is an army of comically out of touch NFL people saying the Raiders aren't dead yet without even considering what the 49ers would prefer—not the Raiders.
HOLDING STEADY. I haven't gotten anything that would change my stance her\e since yesterday. That, of course, is this:
I did get a terrifyingly titled email ("John Harbaugh –> Jim To Oakland = $5 million") that turned out to be a third hand report that if Jim wanted to go to the Raiders the 49ers were planning on extracting the full freight of his contract from him. I have lectured this person on titling emails.
Other than that it's just more of the same. I can't quite say it's a done deal but I would be shocked if this did not happen.
THEY'RE OUT THERE. Feldman reports that Michigan officials are going to be in San Francisco today and tomorrow.
#Michigan brass & search firm will be up in the Bay Area this weekend as part of the Jim Harbaugh pursuit, per source.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 27, 2014
I've heard this is not so much a negotiation as just picking him up. Terms are settled.
ANOTHER MOVE. In the last couple days, even Rivals—the most cautious of the three paysites—has moved off their 50/50 and declared things to be 85% likely, and then said they'd call it if it was election day, and then that "this is happening" which HEY BUDDY THAT'S OUR PHRASE TO FLOG INTO THE GROUND. Balas now says it would be "beyond surreal"—squared!—if it did not happen.
In any case: the most conservative set of Michigan insiders has the lampshade on its head and is trying to drink shots through it.
ANOTHER REPORT? It's unclear whether this report from Harbaugh's (currently) local ABC station is independent or not. It uses SOURCES in its title (#sources) but the text is may only be referencing Joe Pequeno, the Arizona sportscaster who is this search's most random insider. This may be actual SOURCES, though:
Friday night, the unconfirmed reports began surfacing that Harbaugh will meet with representatives from the University of Michigan and one source says that a deal is already done.
The phrasing there makes it hard to tell if they're actually talking to people or just taking other stuff and not mentioning or linking it because BLOGS. Take it FWIW. Local news is not often the kind of place that breaks these things, but if San Francisco-based folks are hearing the same things Michigan-oriented ones are that's another quality sign.
Source says verbal agreement in place for Jim Harbaugh to become new Michigan coach. No contracts signed, but UM feels real confident.
— Joe Pequeno (@JoePequenoCBS5) December 27, 2014
That was just a few minutes ago and did not spur the ABC report.
THEY DON'T WANT TO GO ON THE CART. Rapoport raporeports that the Raiders are going to try.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 27, 2014
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 27, 2014
(Rapoport knows the Raiders are always in the Bay Area. Also, check the extensive reply lists on those tweets for a quick compare/contrast with the La Canforas and Kawakamis of the world. Rapoport doesn't seem to have the best sources here but at least he's a professional.)
I don't think that's going to change much of anything. While the Raiders have been restricted by NFL tampering rules it's not like Harbaugh doesn't know they're interested and prepared to hand him full control. I don't buy the random tweet claiming a Sirius XM report that the 49ers have given the Raiders permission to contact Harbaugh, since it hasn't been replicated anywhere credible. Radio is always the worst for breaking news. Half of it is bunk and the other half is misheard. In this case, that would be tampering.
If Michigan wasn't already operating like their guy was in the bag I'd be more concerned, but with the entire department and folks like DJ Durkin acting like it's a fait accompli this looks like the Raiders trying to save face with their fanbase. Or just doing the usual Raiders stuff and having no idea what the score is.
STAFF STUFF. I'm pretty confident that Greg Mattison is indeed going to be part of the new staff. I've got multiple reports that he's planning on staying in town and would like to continue, and Mattison has a long history with various Harbaughs. DJ Durkin seems all but assured as well given what we've heard about him, but I don't have anything that's been shared with me privately to add to the obvious. Scout has a freebie with some pretty strong indications that Durkin's on his way:
Word from a rival SEC assistant is that scenario [Durkin to M] is much more than rumor.
“He is waiting for Harbaugh to call him within the next 24 hours to make him the defensive coordinator at Michigan,” the assistant said.
I'd also bet a dollar that Ty Wheatley joins the staff as a RB coach with something like "run game coordinator" or "co-OC" tacked on and a salary bump from generic assistant coach.
[NOTE: Last time I bet a dollar in searchbits (on Mullen being plan B) a number of people thought this was a coy way to say "this is a lock"—it's not. It just means I bet a dollar. I have reason to think that thing is happening but would not bet, say, the MGoWife on it.]
Past that I don't have any names that I think are particularly likely. Mattison sticking might be bad news for Roy Manning, who is a LB coach by trade. Mattison and Durkin are both capable of handling LBs, and Mattison fills the ace recruiter and holdover the guys trust roles. I still think Manning's got a shot since every staff needs a guy on it who knows what this means…
— Ty Isaac (@TyIsaac) December 26, 2014
…but I haven't heard much about him sticking.
247 brings up an interesting name($): Vince Marrow, currently the tight ends coach at Kentucky. Marrow's had a deeply weird career, with a few years as a fringe NFL player followed by short stints in NFL Europe as a player and coach, a year in the Arena league, a year as Toledo's TE coach, a singe year as a HS head coach, a TE coach job with the Omaha Nighthawks(?!), two years as a GA at Nebraska, and finally his three years at Kentucky under Mark Stoops as the TE coach/recruiting coordinator.
Why is a guy like this on the radar? Kentucky's Ohio recruiting. Kentucky has been killing it in the state under Marrow, beating out Big Ten teams not named Michigan or Ohio State for prospect after prospect. With Harbaugh likely to be the QB coach Michigan has a spot to play with for a guy like Marrow.
Rivals just brought up Stanford DC Lance Anderson as a likely staff member, but getting both Durkin and Anderson seems extremely far-fetched. Anderson's unit kept Stanford afloat this year, so he's not getting a demotion. Durkin seems all but certain, so is he really coming for a co-DC slot? Is Durkin? Are we not even handing Mattison title frippery appropriate to his station? There are obviously a number of connections between Anderson and Harbaugh, but unless Durkin's waiting on a DC spot that's not guaranteed to be his—highly unlikely—that fails common sense checks.
WHY. The NFL doesn't understand this.
Last thing: The fan fervor for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan cannot be duplicated by the NFL or many actual religions. This I can attest to.
— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) December 27, 2014
That's why it's happening.
ETC.: Utah's coaching staff has been raided over the past week or so and now a local radio guy says it's "highly unlikely" Whittingham returns. Weird stuff, though radio disclaimer applies.
Colin Cowherd tweets out Seth's Harbaugh photoshop, hopefully teaching Seth to watermark things in the future. Iman Marshall interested? Stability a good thing, and a thing the Raiders aren't into offering.
Harbaugh on Brisco County Jr., because we all need to be reminded of these things.
It's the holidays. Friends and family are in town. They know that you pay heavy attention to this kind of stuff, and expect that you'll have some bit of information, some bit of inside dope, some general sense of the way things are going.
You are sick of answering these people. Let your shirt do the talking.
Of course if there's a crowd of people hugging you and jumping for joy you still may need to vocalize it. Or maybe they'll figure it out.
80% might be low
IT IS HAPPENING. Okay. I don't have a picture of a signed contract, or word from Harbaugh himself that it's happening.
But it's happening. I have not put a number on Harbaugh to Michigan yet, preferring words since it's impossible to put a number on something like this. I'll do this now: 99%.
I have gotten so much independent stuff from so many different sources; 247 and Scout and Bacon are all on board, with Rivals only lagging seemingly because they buy the 2011 story that Harbaugh backed out "at the last minute," something that just can't be true given the timelines. I would be utterly shocked if Jim Harbaugh was not announced as Michigan's coach by December 30th.
It's all over but the pointless rush to be the first to report that water is wet.
HAPPENING BITS.I've heard word that there's a large event on Tuesday night that the catering staff has been asked to keep secret—something that they've never been asked about before.
A son of a current coach is telling co-workers that it's happening and his dad is being retained.
1201 South State Street is getting mail addressed like this from NFL compounds:
I checked the tracking number; it's legit.
If I had to guess I'd bet that's a young-go-getter overnighting his resume and interest. Blind hope? Maybe. Probably not.
More numbers: Webb increments to 80, pending today's 85. Lorenz says it's "when, not if" and puts it at 85%. Pequeno doesn't have a number but does say Michigan boots are on the ground in San Francisco.
THE DURKIN PROPHECY. Harbaugh to Michigan is now unofficially official enough that a coaching staff seems to be in the process of being assembled in earnest. Further confirmation of DJ Durkin's presence on the new staff comes from the message board:
So, I am from Youngstown, OH. This morning, I went to my gym for a little early morning workout, and another member of my gym is the father of Chris Durkin … they are close cousins with D.J. Durkin. … he said he would starting rooting for Michigan football next season (after giving me shit for wearing Michigan shirts in the past). I asked why, and he said he has a cousin who would be coaching there next season, and when I asked if it was D.J. Durkin, he said it was.
Conversation stopped there, but basically we can infer from this that Harbaugh is coming, and D.J. Durkin knows it and will be joining him.
That's a user with only 214 points but he is a guy who signed up over a year ago, FWIW. If it wasn't obvious already since Durkin didn't take the A&M job that could have been his a week ago, it should be now.
ANOTHER NFL PERSON SAYS MICHIGAN IS A TINY FAVORITE. SI's Don Banks runs down the NFL coaching carousel, touching on Harbaugh during the Oakland section:
Most league sources I talked to believe it’s down to either Oakland or Michigan for Harbaugh, and while his preference is to stay in the NFL, the lure of Ann Arbor and being able to resurrect the struggling program at his alma mater might be too tempting an opportunity to say no to. If there’s a possession arrow at the moment, indications are it has begun to slightly point in the direction of the Wolverines. …
Or as one source told me: “He can go there and be God, and never get fired. That’s a home he can live in and stay at. It’ll be like [Nick] Saban in Alabama. He’ll do whatever he wants there. I’d call that the logical place for him.’’
The Raiders will try, but they're still the Raiders—perpetually moribund and possibly on the move.
Banks later dismisses Harbaugh as an option in Chicago, saying if he's leaving the West Coast it's for Michigan. That seems like a flimsy assumption to me, but local reporters continually say that Harbaugh's too pricey for the penny-pinching Bears owners. There's been little indication that Chicago will step in.
WHY IS THIS XXIX? Searchbits XXVIII was this for anyone who just had to check to see if anything was happening on Christmas.
New MGoPost: SEARCHBITS XXVIII: DON'T READ THIS, IT'S CHRISTMAS http://t.co/bqRjIOs0ZA
— mgoblog (@mgoblog) December 25, 2014
I regret nothing, even the old meme. That's what you get for obsessively checking this webs…
…actually this may have been a bad idea.
I'M NOT SURE YOU CAN SPEAK FOR EVERBODY. John Harbaugh denies the Schefter report that Jim's family is encouraging him to take the Michigan job:
"The report that says that his family is encouraging him to go to Michigan by Adam Schefter is absolutely incorrect," John Harbaugh said. "There's been no family that I know of that has given him any advice at all. That's a personal decision, that's his to make. And that's just absolutely false."
I think that's not entirely true; even if it is, Schefter's report seemed to be addressing the wife-won't-leave meme, not John and Jack. And as I mentioned before I'm confident that Jack has been a major part of the Harbaugh acquisition process. It's Jim's decision of course, it's just that your mom and I have always dreamed… etc etc etc.