Peppers at 10, which seems low.
[ed-Seth: Sources with close ties* to Jim Harbaugh are now saying with 99% certainty that his decision between Michigan and the NFL will not come down to who has the better barbecue. However we're not going to take the chance.
We have therefore brought back Joe Pichey from MMMGoBluBBQ to share his tailgating recipes, and Stubb's has again offered to sponsor it. This is one of those things where we really liked their BBQ sauce, and they like this blog, and the blog likes Joe's recipes, and we all want Harbaugh to come back to Ann Arbor very much.]
* [The ties my sources mailed to Harbaugh are in San Francisco and "out for delivery" according to UPS, so these are very close ties indeed.]
It's time to get serious. I can't keep checking the internet for coaching updates and hang on to the tiny bit of sanity I have left. The only way to keep the smartphone out of my hand is by replacing it with a set of grilling tongs. I also want to help make coaches decision a little easier.
The best way i know to do that is to offer a HOMECOMING Holiday Honey Ham with a side of Bacon Wrapped Stuffing Balls. I can almost guarantee that we are the only team extending this offer. Almost!! (You never know with that Davis group out in Oakland).
This is my favorite recipe for holiday ham and can be done for 1/3 the cost of those "wait in line all day" Honey Hams.
Spiral Sliced Smoked Ham (Bone In - Shank Portion)
1 cup Packed brown sugar
1/4 Cup Honey
2 TBS Dijon Mustard
3 - 4 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar (add more if needed to make wetter glaze)
1 TSP Cayenne pepper (optional)
2 TBS Fresh ground pepper
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce.
Bacon wrapped Stuffing Balls:
Stuffing (use your favorite stuffing recipe)
[After the jump, the trick is to keep the indirect heat on]
Harbaugh in a light moment with Michigan State offensive coordinator Jim Bollman
NOT MUCH MOVEMENT TODAY. Been waiting to see if anything major would come in, either publicly or privately. Nothing has. At this point that's a good thing: the closer we get to the 28th without a major shift in how things are going, the better. Everyone thinks it's happening.
BUT A COUPLE OF MEATY TIPS. A couple of additional circumstantial bits I've got:
- The wife of a current 49ers assistant coach stating that Michigan fans are going to be "real happy about something as soon as the season's over."
- John Elway, who tried to hire Harbaugh in 2011, telling some business associates that Harbaugh to Michigan is "pretty much" a done deal.
- More player grapevine stuff indicating that Harbaugh will announce for Michigan as soon as the 49ers season is over.
I enjoy the first two bits a lot because they have nothing to do with a potential echo chamber amongst the Michigan side of things. Neither of these sources is direct or established with me, but both had specifically credible paths to the people in the know. There's been positive stuff I've heard that I appreciate but doesn't move the needle much; these two tips are substantial ones.
NO PHIN ZONE. Miami Herald reporter David Neal:
#Dolphins Stephen Ross. Just said Philbin is coming back next season
— David Neal (@DavidJNeal) December 21, 2014
(His account isn't verified but he's legit.) The Dolphins sticking with Philbin is good news for Michigan; announcing it now is better. Ross could well wait to make that determination until after the season, when Harbaugh is loose. Saying it now preserves our canary. It also implies that there's no reason to wait to see if he's available.
ANOTHER NFL GUY REVISING HIS POSITION. Like Adam Schefter before him, Ian Rapoport continued walking back his previously dismissive take on Harbaugh to Michigan:
"He is conflicted about Michigan," Rapoport said Saturday on NFL Network's NFL Total Access. "He is a little surprised, talking to people close to him, about how hard the Maize and Blue have pulled at him. But he also knows he wants to be an NFL coach. He does not want to leave the area and the Oakland Raiders do seem to be the top suitor for him."
The bit about how he's "surprised" at how hard the block M pulls at him feels like a bit of CYA. The Michigan end of this is not surprised at all, so doubtful Harbaugh is. In any case: Rapoport moves from NFL true believer to apostate.
TIMELINE. This will happen or not happen quickly after the 49ers season ends—Jay Glazer says within 48 hours. He also mentions the Bears as a possible landing spot.
THIS WAS PHOTOSHOPPED. It got me, so I tweeted it. I then noticed a lot more RTs of the original than my correction, so a reminder that this did not actually happen:
block M on playcard is not real
Well played, anonymous internet photoshop bandit.
PLAN C, FOR CUMONG. As a football guy who makes forays into soccer writing for the USMNT I've had a hard time taking Jason La Canfora seriously after he moonlighted as a World Cup guy for CBS. Guy described the USA's smash-and-grab win against Ghana as a new thing for the States instead of what they'd been doing for much of their existence. I realize now that I needed the Kermit sipping tea meme to exist last summer.
But anyway, La Canfora is one of the NFL reporters who has been claiming that the idea of Harbaugh to Michigan is ridiculous, because The Shield rules all, etc. This morning he put out an article about their non-Harbaugh options. The names:
Michigan has maintained a desire to land Harbaugh's brother, John, as well, sources said, but the Ravens coach has made it clear he has no interest in leaving Baltimore. Other NFL coaches on the school's radar include New Orleans' Sean Payton, Buffalo's Doug Marrone and Dallas' Jason Garrett (who is expected to sign an extension with the Cowboys shortly after the season).
That list could not be more transparently calculated to make agent friends. You have a guy with a massive contract who's missing the playoffs (Payton), a second-year guy who has seen considerable improvement but remains on the hot seat (Marrone), and a guy literally negotiating an extension right now (Garrett). Oh and John Harbaugh, who is included because Harbaugh.
La Canfora maintains that Michigan has little shot at Jim Harbaugh, a program alum with a dedication to Michigan that verges on insane, and then drops the names of three sitting NFL coaches with exactly zero connection to Michigan. This fails basic sanity checks. Relegate La Canfora to the ranks of those who witlessly parrot anything an agent tells them.
PLAN B. Nobody's talking about Gundy anymore as even a plan B, but there continue to be indications his working environment is unpleasant:
“My football coach doesn’t want to play anybody any good, definitely, but jiminy Christmas, we looked pretty good against Florida State,” Holder said of the 2014 season opener, which the Cowboys lost 37-31. “Until we beat OU, that was the highlight of our season.”
I very seriously doubt we get to the point where this is relevant, but slow day.
HERE'S A WEIRD QUOTE. The SF Gate tracked down Jerry Hanlon:
"Would he be a good coach? Heck, Jimmy’s already proven himself,” said Hanlon, a Michigan assistant from 1969-91. “Would they like him around here? I’ve said, 'As far as I know, he’ll be welcome when he first comes in. How long it’s going to stay that way, I don’t know.’ But, really, I know a lot of people would like to see it.”
Says a lot about the recent history of the program that Hanlon would be wary about how long Harbaugh's honeymoon would last even before he's locked down.
ON MEETINGS. Rapoport reports that Michigan and Harbaugh have not yet met face to face, which I also think is true. True in an official sense, anyway. Harbaugh meets Michigan face to face whenever Charles Woodson's on the opposite sideline or he gets a phone call. Hackett not so much.
Rivals is buzzing about a seemingly unnecessary step to make that meeting happen, with high tech whatnot going back and forth on planes to set up a "face to face" meeting that doesn't require anyone to leave town. Have you heard of Face Time, guys? I hope the sophisticated HD camera setup is really just an intern with an iPad. But anyway: some form of official face to face meeting is happening in the near future, possibly tomorrow.
Meanwhile, a clarification on an earlier statement: I said that the 23rd and 30th were potentially important days because they were dates Hackett was scheduled to meet with the players. Those "meetings" are conference calls; the team is obviously scattered to the four winds until January.
BEST GIFT EVER. Eight dollar khakis FTW.
THE VERB REPLACED IS "STEP," YOU DEGENERATES
Via MGoUser Red_Lee
A BRIEF FOLLOW-UP ON "IT'S DONE." Ace debunked it yesterday; let me add my voice to the chorus of No Way. I am sure Marcellus Wiley does have serious people telling him it's a done deal. I have that. Many other people have that. There are many people saying it. That does not mean it's true. Done means pen to paper, press conference scheduled. That does not describe Harbaugh's situation.
I would triple that skepticism in re: Paul Finebaum's report of same. It's not done.
This is why it's a coaching fiasco—no matter the outcome. It's a circus and will always be a circus.
FWIW. Alejandro Zuniga compiled the full text of Wiley's assertion:
BUT IT SOUNDS PRETTY GOOD YOU GUYS. I continue to get stuff too vague to Report but seemingly credible that indicates Michigan's AD is extremely confident this is getting done, with the current focus on handling buyout issues with San Francisco and an announcement by December 30th.
I fully believe many people in the AD and a big community of Harbaugh friends and acquaintances think it's all over but the shouting. I don't know if I believe they're 100%right, if you get my drift. Someone can always come in with a Godfather NFL offer. Going to be a long 8-10 days coming up.
SCHEFT SHIFT PART II. In the meantime I'd rather have randos coming out of the woodwork to say it's happening instead of it's not happening. It is also good when previously-adamant NFL guys are beginning to say it's possible. Ace mentioned Adam Schefter's apparent shift from "no way" in a lengthy Facebook post. First:
49ers HC Jim Harbaugh’s family and friends have been encouraging him to take the Michigan HC job, but he is torn because his heart is in the NFL, per sources close to the situation.
That's pretty good news, especially since I find the idea that Harbaugh's heart is in the NFL to be questionable at best. This is a guy who can't help quoting Bo about every press conference.
The rest of Schefter's post is a mixture of obvious bunk and interesting bits. Schefter asserts Michigan might not be able to wait, which is nuts. They are fully prepared to wait on Harbaugh until the 28th. They told their players they should expect a coach when they come back on January 4th. It is a a recruiting dead period (you can call but no face to face meetings) until then and if they have a good shot at Harbaugh—they do—they'd be insane to move on before he responds to an offer. Schefter also makes the bonkers assertion that "some have pointed out that recruiting would be a challenge," which may stand as the nuttiest thing said about this coaching search.
On the other hand, Schefter reports that:
- Harbaugh's agent "has a good sense of realistic NFL options already," though this directly contradicts an assertion earlier in the post.
- Harbaugh's wife is okay with a return to An Arbor.
So I don't know how seriously to take anything specific in there. The overall thrust is a guy going from utterly dismissive to serious, though, and that's a big move.
WHERE THE EXTREME SKEPTICISM MAY BE COMING FROM. NFL guys talk to agents, mostly. They've been adamant it isn't happening. Therefore: agent probably the reason NFL guys are so adamant. (That and NFL-level arrogance.) Agent likely has a vested interest in being adamant because he wasn't Harbaugh's agent when he was in college and might not be if he returns there. Dunn does not represent college coaches.
This isn't necessarily to say he's acting in bad faith, but he may be inclined to tilt towards something personally beneficial to him, and also to make NFL teams snap at the bait.
NO. Mike Florio reports that Harbaugh turned down a larger offer from Michigan than he got from the 49ers back in 2011—$5.2 million a year in fact. That is false. Negotiations with Harbaugh never got that far. That number was drawn up out of thin air by an agent: you can tell because the great and powerful NFL didn't pay him more than Michigan was offering when that's chump change to them.
A FOLLOWUP ON THE ROSS BIT. Yesterday I mentioned the Miami Herald reporting that the Dolphins were not suitors in the Harbaugh sweepstakes. I forgot to remind you that that's one of our main canaries here: if Ross gets involved with the Dolphins that's a sign the dream is dead. So far so good on that front.
PLAN B? Sam says that the ever-fluctuating Les Miles Realism Monitor is at low ebb($). IE: he doesn't seem like a realistic option. Up next would probably be swings at Stoops and Mora and then it's Mullen or a wild card with dubious qualifications.
MATTISON RETURNS? We've heard DJ Durkin's name as a possible DC before, and now Sam mentions Greg Mattison as a possible… linebackers coach($)?
It sounds nutty, but Michigan did sign Mattison to a contract that lasts through 2016 last March. For Michigan the cost of not keeping Mattison is whatever the buyout is plus whoever the new coach is—close enough to Mattison's current deal that you may as well keep him. Meanwhile Mattison was planning on retiring in Ann Arbor before Hoke got axed and if Michigan's amenable he may still want to follow through on that plan. At this point in his career, I doubt he gives a crap about job titles, and Michigan could name him associate head coach or whatever. Would be good for continuity, recruiting, and Swag Mattison memes.
A BRIEF NOTE ON TIES. A clarifying note on the lead bit from yesterday: it doesn't mean anything—it was just a friend of the Harbaughs sending him some ties as a wink-wink joke. Somehow the receipt got loose and several people sent it to me, which I thought was funny. I thought it was clear this was just a "look at us we're crazy people" joke; if that was not clear it should be now.
One thing it's not: a "complete fabrication($)." That's what Tom Beaver called it, which is rich from a guy who spent the duration of TomVH's career at this blog implying that Tom was stealing his scoops from Beaver. Probably thinks he's stealing from him at ESPN now. Anyway, I have multiple independent pictures of the receipt, which I won't post because it has personal information on it and this is fundamentally trivial. But just ask yourself: when's the last time Beaver had anything checkable?
Beaver should stick to mangling the English language beyond recognizability and let the people with sources who exist outside their own head handle things.
ETC.: Wheatley on coaching in the pros versus college. Harbaugh's probably worth the money. Niners Nation poll on Harbaugh's future has Michigan as most likely option… and contract extension with 49ers #2. May not be scientific. Jamie Morris says his gut tells him Michigan will get Harbaugh.
Michigan dropped their fourth straight game, unable to Harbaugh themselves past SMU. Their three-point shots wouldn't fall through the Harbaugh; the Fightin' Harbaughs hit just 8/36 shots from beyond the arc.
A nice stretch by Mark Donnal, who finished with 13 points, briefly got Michigan back into the Harbaugh in the second half, only to see the Mustangs pull away late. Caris LeVert couldn't hit the broad side of a Harbaugh, scoring four points on 1/8 shooting. Zak Irvin and Derrick Walton required far too many Harbaughs to tally 17 and 11 points, respectively.
The Wolverines are really going to have to Harbaugh in Big Ten play to have any hope of making the NCAA tournament. With only Monday's game against Coppin State left before conference play beings, they must get their Harbaugh together soon.
[Still time to get in our $5 league before tomorrow]
The Jimmah tag returns. Jimmah: always and forever.
The title suggests this will be another post making fun of NFL beat writers; negatory. This is the latest game with fantasy partner Draft Kings that we're collectively collecting in, a $5 NFL league with a $400k prize pool.
There's just one pick I will stand behind: the Bears benched Cutler this week, meaning good ol' Jimmah is gonna start against Ndamukong Suh and the Lions. For $3100 fake draft dollars you can have the Lions' defense. For $5 real dollars you can have another bracket and take the Lions again.
-$400,000 prize pool
- First place wins $50,000
- $5 entry fee
- Top 18,995 are paid.
- Starts on Sunday, December 21st at 1:00 EST
- Salary Cap Style Drafting. $50,000 to select 9 spots. 8 players and 1 defense
- Roster Format: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex and 1 Defense
- First time depositors at DraftKings receive a 100% bonus up to $600
HI IT'S ACE YOU WILL ALL CALL ME BRIAN EITHER BY MISTAKE OR INTENTIONALLY BECAUSE THAT'S HOW IT WORKS NOW.
This is such non-news that I didn't want to write a post about it but people are freaking out because it's on ESPN Radio and such so I guess it's worth a post. Marcellus Wiley, the guy who replaced Colin freakin' Cowherd on SportsNation, hit the radio today saying he's "as confident as [he] can be" that Jim Harbaugh has already signed a contract with Michigan, which is almost assuredly 100% not true. A transcript of his remarks via the Daily's Alejandro Zuniga:
Harbaugh is still under contract with the 49ers. He's coaching them tomorrow night. He's not simultaneously under contract with Michigan. The only reason this is somewhat worth posting (aside from the accompanying freakout) is that Wiley may be getting an actual contract confused with a Memo of Understanding; I'm by no means a lawyer, but my understanding is a MOU is completely nonbinding. Harbaugh signing one of those would be a good sign but not at all a guarantee that IT'S HAPPENING.
Other stuff from today...
MOSS PUMPS THE BRAKES. The DSR's Jeff Moss, who was among the first to say that Michigan was pointing a rather large money cannon in Harbaugh's direction, is less optimistic after hearing this:
Anyway, last night Jim Harbaugh called one of his former teammates. The conversation did not start well as my source states the San Fran head coach asked, “Would you hate me if I didn’t come?”
He also suggested that the Atlanta Falcons, who are backed by Home Depot money, could enter the fray; Mike Smith's tenure there has gone decidedly south over the last two seasons and he could be on his way out.
Providing the rebuttal is The Wolverine's Chris Balas, who said in a pretty optimistic update that he doesn't believe the rumored "would you hate me?" quote ($).
SCHEFTER STATES THE OBVIOUS. Welcome to the show, Adam Schefter.
49ers HC Jim Harbaugh’s family and friends have been encouraging him to take the Michigan HC job, but he is torn because his heart is in the NFL, per sources close to the situation.
Harbaugh first would like to see what head coaching opportunities come available – and he is likely to be a top choice for a handful of teams – before getting back to Michigan with an answer, per sources.
Harbaugh would like to finish coaching this season, go through the players’ getaway day on Monday, Dec. 29, and then make his decision as quickly as possible. As another source said, Harbaugh’s agent, Dave Dunn, already “has a good sense of realistic NFL options already.”
But as one Michigan source wondered Friday, “If he wants to stay in the NFL, who will pay him $8 million per year?”, an indication that Michigan is prepared to go hard after Harbaugh.
There's more at that link. It's entirely stuff that's either common sense or points already covered by Michigan insiders, but I guess it's nice to see an NFL guy get on board with the whole Michigan Has A Real Shot thing.