this may be of some local interest
Only mildly less entertaining than the NFL falling all over itself to explain why one of their best coaches left them for college is the NFL falling over itself to pick a champion. Make fun of their beat writers all you want but their playoff games are really fun to watch. Even the Ryan Lindley vs. whatever came out of the NFC South game manages to merit my attention.
But then I like college bowls so much more, even when my team's staying home hiring Harbaugh and stuff.
So like Jim Harbaugh, you get to pick; we have a new NFL game for the Wild Card round, and we're still running the The Bowl Game Cash Game (from last week) for those who prefer college. Of course, nobody's stopping you if you'd like to do both.
|What's your deal?|
The Pro Option: In keeping with All-baugh theme for today I tried to draft my team of all guys who've played for Harbaugh. I found four eligible out of the four eligible wild card games: Andrew Luck, Stepfan Taylor and Colby Fleener from Stanford, and Ted Ginn Jr. from Harbaugh's first year at San Francisco.
-$100,000 prize pool.
- First place wins $10,000
- $2 entry fee (FREE with first deposit).
- Top 11,500 are paid.
- Starts on Saturday, January 3 at 4:25 PM 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
The College Option: If you follow the link to last week's I figured out which teams may tempo their way into or out of better performances, and which defenses might lend their assists.
The game is the college football $20k mini cash bowl. It's a $2 entry fee with $20k in prizes, and a lot of space left. I liked it because the bowl lineup has a lot of teams I pay attention to, including all the New Years Day games.
-$20,000 prize pool.
- First place wins $2,000
- $2 entry fee (FREE with first deposit).
- Top 2,300 win money guaranteed
- Starts on Thursday, January 1st at 12:00 PM EST
- Salary Cap Style Drafting. $50,000 to select 9 players
- Roster Format: 2 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE and 1 Flex
- First time depositors at DraftKings receive a 100% bonus up to $600
PODCAST TOMORROW. Hooray. Also we'll do a twitter Q&A/presser thing.
THANKS FOR PLAYING. Countable coaches are also not a priority at the Free Press.
— Brian (@BKudron) December 29, 2014
Yes, you have already seen this six times today.
INTENSITY. One, tiny Jim Harbaugh looks exactly like my brother did at the same age. Two, he was always Jim Harbaugh.
— Rachel Lenzi (@RLenziBlade) December 29, 2014
THIS IS PROBABLY NOT GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN. But I wouldn't put it past him.
LOOKS PRETTY HATED TO ME YOU GUYS. The early-season word in the NFL was that Harbaugh's act had worn thin with NFL players and that he was widely hated in the locker room. That appears to be attempted spin by the Niners management as they attempt to cover for their decision to axe the fifth-winningest coach in NFL history:
This is not at all what it was said to be.
— Ryan Leong (@RyanLeong) December 29, 2014
In the aftermath of Harbaugh's departure Niners players tweeted out seemingly heartfelt things about how they'll miss him. They gave him the game ball. I was struck by how Harbaugh lit up when someone in the room for his final presser asked about Frank Gore's performance in San Francisco's season-ending win over Arizona. "THANK YOU!" he exclaimed before praising Gore as a true competitor.
It was reminiscent of Harbaugh's reaction in the aftermath of Stanford's stunning upset of USC in 2007: approached by ESPN, he said "don't talk to me, talk to Pritchard," his third-string QB who led the team to victory. So they did. The guy is a nut but he's a team-focused nut.
If the YOU DON'T SAY meme didn't exist we'd have to invent it. I mean.
Jim Harbaugh and 49ers have mutually parted ways, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 29, 2014
Schefter is still the last guy dying on NFL hill (well, maybe not the last), saying that Michigan official "believe" Harbaugh is coming back with them today and continually saying things like Michigan boosters were "told" that it's happening while still saying that NFL teams are pursuing. Schefter will probably tweet "Raiders officials plan to meet with Harbaugh after this press conference ends" on Tuesday.
And ESPN is simultaneously trying to credit him with breaking the story. Cumong man.
Do you even read what you write? Ray Ratto:
People will immediately seek out informers at Stanford, where Harbaugh wore out his welcome on a college setting, as well as he did with the 49ers.
Many people will yell at him for being a dumbass on twitter, and Ratto will blame the people yelling at him. I have a feeling that Stanford might have consented to a fifth year of Harbaugh.
He may know Michigan, but he cannot truly own Michigan. He didn’t own Stanford when he helped bring down USC, and he only owned the 49ers until the smell of a new stadium got into York’s lungs. And his history of wearing on players is well and often told, loudly enough to show him that he has to find another, more contemporary, gear.
Tell that to Frank Gore, and a lot of people:
Iupati said things got pretty emotional after Harbaugh and his players had what Harbaugh termed a "discussion" in the locker room after the game.
As usual, Harbaugh concluded the talk with everyone huddled in the middle of the room, a hand raised in the air and thrust toward Harbaugh's hand as he asked, "Who's got it better than us?" And everyone replied "Nobody."
"That was awesome," Iupati said. "I will remember that for the rest of my life. We're going to miss him. I'm going to miss him."
The other narrative. Now that Harbaugh's exited the NFL, the narrative switches from "never happen" to "there weren't any suitable openings" and "he's going to leave immediately anyway." Florio:
He wanted to stay in the NFL, but with no viable options paying him at or near $8 million and Michigan ready to give him the keys to the financial kingdom, it appears that Jim Harbaugh will indeed become the next coach of the Wolverines.
Please. If Harbaugh wanted to stay in the NFL he wouldn't be on a plane today. He wouldn't have told Michigan he was coming a week ago. He would be waiting to see what the casualties were on Black Monday, and possibly having his agent hint, oh, 20 or so NFL teams that if they axed their guy he would come. As Braves and Birds put it:
Yes, NFL insiders, after being consistently wrong about Harbaugh to Michigan, I am interested in your opinions on how long he'll stay.
— Michael (@BravesAndBirds) December 29, 2014
Tangential Harbaugh. Via Dr. Sap, Gerald Ford with Bo, 1976:
PEAK WEINREB. As Michigan struggled, Michael Weinreb carved out a cottage industry for himself rewriting the same column about how Michigan is old and fusty and arrogant and not too good at football, all the while coolly ignoring the fact that similar criticisms could be made about Penn State at deafening volume levels. So it is right and just that he's the guy Grantland called out of the bullpen to throw shade on the Harbaugh hire. This covers all the bases:
I would worry that Harbaugh is doing this for the money (a reported $48 million over six years, which would make him the sport’s highest-paid coach) or out of some misguided sense of obligation to his alma mater.
Weinreb is concerned that Harbaugh is doing this for money and that he is not doing this for money. I think he's got us on that one.
I look forward to the next one of these. My almanac says it should be in the immediate aftermath of the Spring Game.
Etc.: Probably legit post from a Harbaugh son about what went down with the Niners. Nick Baumgardner could teach some NFL folks the three words that lead his column. All your Harbaugh weirdness documented. Manning is still around, if that means anything. Best And Worst! Top 5 Harbaugh games. Five reasons this is awesome for neutrals.
Wisconsin’s still at the top (source)
Your Weekly B1G Hoops Column
Table of Contents
Revisiting preseason predictions
Checking in on Wisconsin
Creativity charts – Ohio State and Maryland
Nebraska spends too much time at the beach
Indiana, Purdue both lose
Is Penn State for real?
Halfway-point All-Conference teams
Re-Ranking the conference
Viewer’s guide: Week One
1. Revisiting preseason predictions
Back before the season, I made some predictions as to how the Big Ten pecking order would shake out. With the end of non-conference play, it’s time to check on who I hit and missed on:
Here’s how the teams rank according to a variety of metrics:
The biggest outliers (from what I predicted) so far:
- Michigan (minus 8) – the Wolverines’ performance in the non-conference season failed to meet even the most pessimistic of expectations, as a 6-5 record against D-I opponents and brutal home upsets at the hands of NJIT and Eastern Michigan are far cries from the lofty standards of these past few years. John Beilein’s characteristically beautiful offense has become a stagnant mess and Michigan simply doesn’t shoot the ball well enough from the field to succeed. Chances are that UM isn’t as bad as they’ve shown, but there needs to be a lot of improvement for an NCAA Tournament bid to be in play.
- Nebraska (minus 6) – Tim Miles doesn’t have Michigan’s excuse (inexperience), as the Huskers returned pretty much the same team as the upstart squad from a year ago and have looked incredibly listless. Losses to Incarnate Word and Hawaii rival Michigan’s bad results and Nebraska’s offense actually worsened from “mediocre” to “bad.” Walter Pitchford has gone invisible, Terran Petteway is still quite inefficient, and the Huskers might have the worst point guard play in the entire conference.
- TIE: Minnesota and Maryland (plus 4) – both of these teams have been pleasant surprises thus far; neither have bad losses and both have a great chanceof finishing above .500 in conference play. Minnesota beat a surprisingly decent Georgia team, Maryland defeated Iowa State and won at Oklahoma State. Impressively, the Terrapins have been operating without star senior Dez Wells, though true freshman lead guard Melo Trimble has been a revelation. Minnesota’s freshman PG, Nate Mason, hasn’t garnered the attention Trimble has, but he’s been a key part of a devastating pressure defense by the Gophers.
WE CAN RECRUIT AGAIN
Jim Harbaugh hasn't even been formally introduced and I'm panic-checking Twitter every few minutes to make sure I'm not late to start a Hello post. This is because recruits
read the papers watch the local news have the internet too, and they're excited. Really excited. There's a darn good chance top-100 tight end Chris Clark ends up back in the fold in the near future:
At this point, he says the three schools he's interested in are UCLA, Michigan State and Michigan.
But Harbaugh could be a game changer for him.
"He'd 100 percent (excite me)," Clark said. "I still love Michigan, I've always liked the school.
Harbaugh's track record of utilizing and producing quality TEs certainly won't hurt here.
Five-star 2015 CB Iman Marshall, who's readying to play in the Under Armour AA Game, told 247's Tom Loy that Michigan could vault back into contention for him ($):
The “big pick up” for Michigan, as Marshall calls it, is regarding the potential hiring of Jim Harbaugh as the new head coach of the Wolverines.
“That would be great,” said Marshall. “The fact that Michigan would have a dude that came from the league with the [San Francisco] 49ers and someone who has coached a national championship contending team is big. That would be real dope.”
Marshall said he's visit Ann Arbor if Harbaugh was hired, per TomVH. USC is the heavy favorite to land Marshall, but just getting him on campus would be a huge step forward after his interest in the Wolverines had cooled significantly.
Another elite defensive back, four-star DC CB Marcus Lewis, told Rivals' Mike Farrell in a video interview that he'd consider Michigan again if Harbaugh was hired, and mentioned the possibility of an official visit. Lewis, who'd previously held the Wolverines in very high regard, currently has a top three of Kentucky, Washington State, and Miami, in that order—that seems like a top group a Harbaugh-led Michigan program could crack pretty easily.
Michigan could also jump back into the mix for four-star OLB Joshua McMillon, who told Rivals' Adam Gorney he'd consider taking an official should Harbaugh take over ($). McMillon's coach, however, said he expects McMillon to stick with his Alabama commitment either way.
Harbaugh won't be the only big recruiting pull, in all likelihood. Florida defensive coordinator and current interim head coach DJ Durkin, the 2012 Rivals Recruiter of the Year, should also attract serious talent if he takes the DC job at Michigan, as expected. Top-50 2015 OLB Roquan Smith told TomVH he'd take an official to Michigan should Durkin join Harbaugh's staff.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup. Yes, you'll actually want to read it this time.]
|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.]