META: I'm baaaaaaack. Here's what I know so far; while it's not quite a full diagnosis, like Seth suggested, it's all very good news. I underwent a colonoscopy/endoscopy on Wednesday morning, and while I'm still awaiting the results of the accompanying biopsy, all they found initially was a hiatal hernia and an ulcer—this should rule out Crohn's Disease. I've got a CT scan scheduled for next week just to cover all the bases.
My appointment with an endocrinologist and subsequent testing Wednesday afternoon revealed the really good news: I tested positive for adrenal insufficiency, which explains my litany of symptoms. It's most likely primary adrenal insufficiency (Addison's Disease) as opposed to secondary (driven by the pituitary gland); I've already started treatment with hydrocortisone, which should start helping very soon. The next step is to confirm that it's Addison's Disease—I'm awaiting test results on that—and see a rheumatologist, since the vast majority of the time an autoimmune issue of some sort is the cause of this. I also have a follow-up appointment with my endocrinologist next week. The doctors at St. Joe's have done a remarkable job; after ten years of searching, this is a massive breakthrough.
Thank you so much to everyone who's reached out to me over the last week; I'm incredibly fortunate to have the support of such a strong community, and it helped my spirits more than I can possibly convey. Now, let's talk basketball...
Michigan (6-3) at
|WHEN||5:25 pm ET, Saturday|
|LINE||Arizona -9 (KenPom)|
PBP: Dan Shulman
Analyst: Jay Bilas
Right: The last week or so.
THE HELL IS GOING ON
I mean, seriously.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. %Min and %Poss figure are from this season now—yes, there will be a fair amount of noise in these numbers for a while. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open.
|G||4||TJ McConnell*||Jr.||6'1, 195||70||21||Kinda|
|Excellent distrubutor and defender. Cold shooting this year, but good over career.|
|G||1||Gabe York*||Jr.||6'3, 185||54||18||No|
|Low usage. Career 37% 3-pt, rarely ventures far inside the arc.|
|F||5||Stanley Johnson||Fr.||6'7, 245||68||27||No|
|Top-3 recruit. Good shooter, rebounder, defender. Draws tons of fouls.|
|F||21||Brandon Ashley*||Jr.||6'9, 230||74||21||No|
|Excellent post scorer, takes most shots at rim but has range. Solid FT rate.|
|C||35||Kaleb Tarczewski*||Jr.||7'0, 245||70||16||Very|
|Efficient finisher, mostly on easy stuff. Turnover-prone.|
|F||23||Rondae Hollis-Jefferson||So.||6'7, 220||65||24||Yes|
|Country's best sixth man? Very athletic; great finisher, rebounder, shot-blocker.|
|G||24||Elliott Pitts||So.||6'5, 285||36||11||Not at all|
|Pure sniper, and good at it: 53% from three this season. Tiny usage.|
|G||0||Peter Jackson-Cartwright||Fr.||5'10, 160||28||18||No|
|23/4 assist-to-TO ratio. Whoa. Shooting really well, too.|
Arizona is off to an undefeated start that includes three wins over KenPom top-100 opponents, though all of those games were close: four points over #78 Kansas State (neutral site), two points over #23 San Diego State (neutral), and a three-point comeback win in overtime at home over #10 Gonzaga. They've blown out everyone else on the schedule, including #110 UC Irvine and #149 Mizzou.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
HARBAUGH HARBAUGH HARBAUGH. All silent, aside from random NFL scouts lambasting the search and asserting that Harbaugh is not leaving the NFL ever-ever. It's a leap to go from "Michigan seems to be taking an exceptionally long time" to "there is no reason this could be, therefore Michigan is clownfraud."
The very fact that Michigan hasn't hired, or come close to hiring anyone, is evidence enough that they are waiting for definitive word on Harbaugh. And then you have everyone who talks to anyone inside the Michigan program saying that very loudly. Michigan may not get the guy, but it won't be because he turned Michigan down two weeks ago.
The only movement yesterday was a brief explosion of optimism last night based on a post from the very edge of the internet that got deleted once it was passed around, but not before the echo chamber went into full effect. No idea how seriously to take that. It does sound like certain people on the inside are beginning to believe it's really happening.
ON WHITTINGHAM. With the exception of Sam Webb, listening to talk radio guys is never advisable. 97.1's Jeff Riger just re-confirmed that yesterday by asserting that Kyle Whittingham was literally in Ann Arbor, a claim debunked a few hours later when Whittingham showed up at his previously-scheduled team meeting.
Like the Brandt thing, this was obviously untrue on its face: Michigan was never going to fire off an offer to Cutcliffe at this stage of their search, and sitting head coaches do not fly to towns with open jobs. These meetings take place in airports until it's time for a press conference, and again there is no way Michigan fills this job until they get a definitive answer from Harbaugh.
ALSO IN RE: WHITTINGHAM. I've heard there may have been some actual family issues involved with Gary Andersen's departure to Corvallis: namely, Andersen is Mormon and it's possible they were having a tough time adjusting to Madison. That's a reason Michigan and Mendenhall or Whittingham are unlikely to hook up.
I mean: these are two very successful coaches who haven't had so much as a sniff at bigger jobs. Utah blew out Alabama to go undefeated in 2008 and then went 10-3 the next two years and nobody so much as flirted with the guy. It is really hard to get coaches out of the state of Utah.
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE HOT DOGS? Sean Payton strongly denied any rumors that he'd be somewhere other than New Orleans, correctly dubbing them "silly":
Asked at his press conference today about the possibility that he might step down following this season, Payton said, “Absolutely no way.”
Payton said he is aware that there’s been speculation that he wants to leave New Orleans, but Payton added, “It’s silly. It won’t happen.”
I don't care what insiders said X or Y about Payton's availability. The ghost of Bo could appear to me and tell me Payton was the guy and I would say "he has an eight million dollar contract until 2018, Bo—y'all be crazy." If the Saints decide to pull the ripcord on the best coach in their history thanks to one bad year and eat what I assume is a simply massive buyout, then we are getting to the realm of vague plausibility. Until that highly unlikely event transpires, "silly" is the kind way to put it.
These last two items are me getting exercised about people reporting things without considering how likely they are outside of "I herd it from mah dudez". I heard the weirdass Marvin Lewis thing and told you, but I also mentioned it was weirdass and I didn't expect anything to come of it.
NEVERMIND THE CHEESEOFF. Wisconsin takes under 24 hours to hire Paul Chryst, removing the admittedly remote possibility Michigan and Wisconsin would go after the same guy. Hilariously, a source says "I thought this would be the scenario from Day 1" on Day 1.
Alvarez is going through the "public posting" kabuki but it's done, according to everyone.
THIS IS NEWS FOR SOME REASON. Michigan sent out a release this morning stating that they've hired Korn Ferry as their search firm for 80-250k. Why Michigan would tell people this now (they've been working with the firm since Hoke got cashiered) and why people would repeat it out loud remains a mystery to me. Hackett said he'd be employing a search firm and everyone pretty much knew who that would be once he said said search firm would be familiar with Michigan.
It's a thing you can tweet, I guess.
Reactions have mostly fallen into one of two camps. One: "let me google that for you." Two: "lol these guys hired Brandon and Hoke." I agree with #1. Not so much #2. Brandon was a locked-in insider candidate after being a regent and helping hire Mary Sue Coleman (see Coleman's going-away present of a six-year guaranteed contract); Hoke was a locked-in insider candidate that Brandon was going to hire no matter who the search firm was after Harbaugh went with the 49ers.
All those guys do is give you a list of vetted names; Michigan's screwups are their own. That was supposed to be more reassuring than it ended up being.
WE MIGHT EVEN PASS ON JAY GRUDEN. ESPN Insider's rumor mill thing picks up the RealGM "nugget" on Jay Gruden's supposed interest in Michigan, then mentions that there's another guy out there:
Former UM quarterback and current San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh is another name that has come up often for the Wolverines job in recent weeks, and given Harbaugh's ties to the program and the likelihood that his days in SF are just about over, it's reasonable to believe that he could be the school's No. 1 coaching target, even ahead of Gruden.
This insight is available for just a few dollars a month.
FAN PECKING ORDER. 24/7 ran a series of polls asking their users about whether coaching candidates would be okay. The results:
- Harbaugh (95% yes)
- Stoops (89%)
- Miles (81%)
- Mora (77%)
- Mullen (69%)
- Herman (49%)
- Bielema (46%)
- Narduzzi (41%)
- Cutcliffe (41%)
- Whittingham (34%)
- Gundy (29%)
- Schiano (14%)
- Addazio (12%)
Gundy is a huge surprise down there. Addazio not so much.
Etc.: More on the role this advisory committee thing is playing. Sam says Les Miles's age isn't going to be a hindrance($) to his candidacy and that the search is apparently narrowed to four guys($), though which four is unclear. Miles and Harbaugh are amongst them; past that nobody knows.
META first: Happy to announce that Ace's thing was diagnosed and he's gonna be fine.
Out of the Blue. It was refreshing, wasn't it, when Hackett killed off the Michigan Man Bler.
Bo retired with a cult of personality because he was great at coaching football, and great at improving the lives of people around him. Trusting him and his guys served Michigan well enough so long as he and those guys and their guys continued to do things well and righteously.
|Camus on why Candyland is the greatest game ever. [Existential Comics]|
Hoke was righteous; he didn't do well. Outside Michigan circles there was general bewilderment that Brady could come to this year's football bust, sit beside the men who fired him for fielding progressively worse football teams, and receive a standing ovation. Winning football games can you earn you a lot of respect, but it's not the only way to get it.
I too want to move on from the Cult of Bo, and I too concede that most football coaches out there are good guys. I don't see any problem with recognizing these things and also recognizing that Brady Hoke stood out among his coaching peers. You see it in his players. We'll see it again in the coming years when there are more transfers and more off-field things to wag fingers at, because Brady is an extraordinary human who genuinely cares about people beyond the normal good guy capacity. That quality isn't what got him fired; it's what got him a shot at his dream job in the first place.
We needed to get out of this Blue Bler and relearn how to make decisions with something other than faith in a dead man—sadly it took the people in charge two transitions to realize it. There's no way to eradicate the bler people; fortunately there is a home run-seeming candidate who grew up around the program and quarterbacked it for a time.
Ultimately the question on Harbaugh is 100% "Will he?" Communist Football made the case for the thing we want to believe. If it happens yay for Michigan and the world and the ozone layer. If not, we're…
Into the Black. If we're not looking for the next Bo Schembechler to run Bo Schembechler's program, what are we looking for?
Nobody's telling us. In his Highlander movie-themed discussion of Michigan's pursuit of Harbaugh, I think Gameboy absolutely nailed the coaching search process, which goes:
- Big list of candidates
- Whittling of candidates into a pool
- Precision ranking and clarity among top tier
- Pick the guy
Because fans don't get to be part of the process, the bits that leak out make no sense. We are the mortals who keep finding bodies beheaded by swords all over town, plus a few bread crumbs left by those who seek to use us for their own ends, and start drawing conclusions.
Rock and Roll is Here to Stay: In looking for a new paradigm a lot of us have settled on Urban Meyer's regime and coaching tree. Copying a successful rival is as good a strategy as any; in fact it's exactly how Canham chose Bo in 1969.
In that vein, Kyle Whittingham is the next Urban Meyer-like candidate to get the alum96 treatment. Among Urban-like names being tossed around, Whittingham is probably the most palatable to the residual bler in Michigan's brass—Mullen carries the stench of the SEC and we have no idea whether they see the things in Herman that we do. Like Harbaugh, his candidacy is more of a "Will he?" than a "Can he?"
[After the jump, there's more to the picture than meets the eye.]
Aaaand since I made this Denard's foot injury became season-ending. Thanks 2014.
Larry from our fantasy partner Draft Kings hit me up this week asking if we wanted to do an NCAA hoops game. I said I have not heard of this sport and recommended he try this fantastic whiskey. Then he said "Good," because they have an intriguing NFL game that only costs a quarter.
/glances at NFL for things that can harm me.
/comes out from under bed
The deal is you put a quarter in the machine and play the game, the ultimate victor of which gets $2,000. Finishing among the next 23,664 gets you something until $25,000 has been given out.
Quarter Arcade Championship Details:
- $25,000 prize pool.
- First place wins $2,000
- $0.25 entry fee
- That's a quarter. 25 cents.
- Top 23,665 are paid.
- Starts on Sunday, December 14 at 1:00 PM
- It's the NFL. Jim Harbaugh and Denard Robinson and Funchess when he has something to care about again are all in the NFL too.
- 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
- If you lose it only cost you a quarter, not your dignity or your soul.
If you win among MGoUsers, you get one free Jim Harbaugh to coach the college football team of your choice (pending agreement and terms with Jim Harbaugh).
INSIDER BITS TODAY: MEH. Holding pattern time. I don't have anything specific to tell you that isn't out there already, just continued opinion that Harbaugh is very much in play and Michigan is still focused on him, with everyone else Plan B. I think we might see some movement over the weekend or early next week, especially if the 49ers are officially eliminated from the playoffs (a 49ers loss and Lions win will make it 100%).
Expect Michigan to start reaching out to potential replacements in earnest soon; that won't mean that Harbaugh's definitively out, it'll mean that he hasn't definitely said yes. Harbaugh won't have a truly clear picture of his options until the NFL season is over. He does not know what he wants to do now.
If Michigan doesn't get deeply involved with a short list over the next couple weeks that's a good sign.
WE THOUGHT THIS WAS ASHLEY MADISON DOT COM, NOT MADISON, WISCONSIN. SEEYA.
BARRY ALVAREZ MUST SMELL LIKE ROTEL THAT'S BEEN IN THE FRIDGE SINCE THE BIG TEN WAS RELEVANT. Oregon State's shock hire of Gary Andersen after just two years—two quite successful years—at Wisconsin moves a coaching opening much closer to Michigan in both geography and prestige. Well… probably, as far as the latter goes. Wisconsin's now had coaches bug out for the post-Petrino wasteland at Arkansas and the 10th best job in the Pac-12*. I can't see that happening at Michigan.
I don't buy most of the explanations out there for Andersen's departure. Wisconsin doesn't pay its assistants like a program with their success level would be expected to, but Oregon State doesn't either. Family reasons cited by Alvarez are transparent bunk. Everyone's talking about academic issues, which I guess could be jarring as you move from Utah State, but Wisconsin's done just fine with whatever standards they've had forever. It kind of looks like Alvarez is a Brandon-esque figure hovering over his coaches. In his defense, he was a really successful football coach instead of a guy who sold cardboard disks purporting to be pizza.
Will Wisconsin's search impact Michigan? It's doubtful but not outlandishly so. After getting burned by consecutive outsiders, Wisconsin may prefer a Wisconsin Man and go for Pitt HC Paul Chryst, NC State HC Dave Doeren or Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell. If they eschew those options they might promote DC Dave Aranda, who had very shiny stats before OSU bombed them, or go with a mid-level HC not currently on Michigan's radar. It's probable that Wisconsin finds a guy without pinging anyone Michigan would ask after.
Any impact would come if both teams end up hunting coordinators, and even then it seems like the teams would split the two obvious Big Ten candidates and be happy with it. Pat Narduzzi makes more sense than Tom Herman for the Badgers: Wisconsin knows what it is on offense and wouldn't want to change it. Herman makes more sense for M because they need offensive repairs desperately.
BUT SERIOUSLY. Wisconsin should hire Bo Pelini.
NO SERIOUSLY. I'm serious. This is not just for the epic trolling it would set up.
*[Colorado and WSU are worse. Probably.]
ONE OTHER POSSIBLE EFFECT. Herman and Aranda were in fact teammates at Cal Lutheran back in the day. If M does end up going for Herman and Aranda is cut loose at Wisconsin that would be an obvious option for DC.
never not funny
HARBAUGH HARBAUGH HARBAUGH. Tim Kawakami had an interesting piece on parallels between the Harbaugh-49ers rift and that between Mark Jackson and the Golden State Warriors, a post that also roped in Chris Mullin. This bit is the most directly applicable to you:
Harbaugh will not talk about the strife. Not publicly or–I believe–privately.
He tried to deny that there were any true tensions this off-season, because that’s his usual tactic, but as the stories have piled up starting from the early weeks of the regular season, Harbaugh has just generally refused to comment on the meaning of all this–and he won’t deny the possibility that management is doing it, either.
He’s not doing this as a zen practice, Harbaugh is doing this because he’s hunkered down, fighting through every day, and if management wants to conduct a campaign against him, that’s only going to sharpen his wits for the next move (while staying silent about what it might be).
Another similarity: Mullin naturally took the quiet high road because he knew he’d succeed elsewhere. I guarantee you that’s what Harbaugh feels now. …
This is all–I firmly believe–coming from 49ers management.
We know Harbaugh is talking a bit privately, but even then he plays his cards very close to the vest. He gave Charles Woodson a press conference answer when they talked…
"I spoke to him briefly, just said 'what's up,' and I almost started to get into the conversation but he kind of game me the same line he gave everybody at his press conference," Woodson said Tuesday on The Rich Eisen Show. "The well-being of his team and the well-being of his family. That was about as far into it as we were going to get."
…(since that press conference answer made the press, that was a good move). Meanwhile he's refusing to mention anything other than the next game, and he was relatively circumspect with the former M players he watched the OSU game with. I've gotten reports that he is cagey with everyone, with small cracks that may let people in on his intentions. A few people who've known him forever get Harbaugh's unvarnished thoughts—and even they don't know what he'll do.
This would explain a great deal of the disconnect between NFL reporters and the Michigan guys. Everything the NFL guys get is coming from management types who have a vested interest in Harbaugh staying in the NFL, either because they want him or want to trade him. Guys who talk to him personally get a different take.
BUT NOT CHARLES. Woodson continued:
"The way it sounds to me there's not even that one in a million," he added. "It doesn't sound too good to me.
"I guess you do have a slight chance. But man. It ain't looking good."
This is still not the opinion of people who have spent a lot of time canvassing all available information. Yikes all the same.
ON ASSISTANT SALARIES. USA Today published a database of assistant salaries, which promises to be more useful than the head coach listings. Head coaches have erratic, large bonuses that cause big swings. Those kinds of things are much rarer with assistants.
Michigan was 9th in overall assistant compensation with a relatively unbalanced structure: both coordinators were 800k+, recruiting coordinator Jeff Hecklinski was just under 300k, and everyone else around 240k. LSU was #1 in overall compensation with both coordinators at 1.3 million and their lowest-paid dude at 310.
M is almost two million dollars behind LSU in annual compensation(!). They're right on par with OSU, FWIW. Mississippi State is a million dollars back of M, on par with Colorado, Maryland, Rutgers… and Wisconsin.
Upshot: unless there's a big shift Michigan is going to be able to pay on par with everyone else. There's enough money to pay a big time coordinator for the other side of the ball if M goes with a Narduzzi/Herman type.
PLAN B. Here's a weird-ass name I don't fully believe but know they're kicking around at some level inside the department: Marvin Lewis. The Bengals are currently at the top of the AFC North but Lewis has been on precarious ground for a while now—he got a one-year extension just before this season and would likely have to be extended again. The Bengals have been on the verge of a change there for a long time. Lewis comes with all the usual NFL hangups but at his age (57) he would likely be retiring at a hypothetical college job.
Wouldn't put too much into that since a boatload of names get kicked around, but if Cinci does fire the guy keep an eye on him.
Beyond that, I've heard that you shouldn't take reports that so-and-so college coach isn't interested at all seriously. That's a good general rule. It is a better one in this specific case. I know that people who have supposedly ruled themselves out have done no such thing and would welcome sincere post-Harbaugh interest from M.
|OC/QB @ Iowa St||2009-11|
|OC/QB @ Rice||2007-08|
|OC @ Texas St||2005-06|
|WR @ Sam Houston||2001-04|
|WR at Cal Lutheran, 1994-97|
These again. We're skipping Harbaugh because it's not like you need to be told about Harbaugh. In the event M does hire him, he'll get one.
These are in approximate order of personal preference.
I know, I know: must be head coach, if not head coach doom doom doom. To me that thinking is excessively narrow when you start talking about guys like Gary Pinkel and Steve Addazio. Many of the standout coaches in college football today started their head coaching careers at Power 5 schools—even major ones.
Here is a list of currently active college head coaches who had never been head coach before their appointment at a Power 5 school, in approximate groupings:
note: "outsider" includes people brought in from the outside as designated successors who went through a coach-in-waiting period like Fisher and Bielema.
Jimbo Fisher (Florida State), Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), Charlie Strong (Texas via Louisville), Dan Mullen (Mississippi State), Bret Bielema (Arkansas via Wisconsin), Bill Snyder (KSU), Mark Richt (UGA), Dana Holgorsen (WVU), Les Miles (LSU via Okie State), James Franklin (PSU via Vandy)
Steve Sarkisian (USC via Washington).
GROOMED INTERNAL CANDIDATES
Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State), Gary Patterson (TCU), Dabo Swinney (Clemson), Mark Helfrich (Oregon), Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern), Kyle Whittingham (Utah), David Shaw (Stanford).
WE HIRE THESE GUYS BECAUSE WE HAVE FEW ALTERNATIVES
- Paul Chryst (Pitt), Scott Shafer (Syracuse), Paul Rhoads (ISU), Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech), Kyle Flood (Rutgers), Derek Mason (Vandy), Mike Leach (WSU via Texas Tech), Mark Stoops (Kentucky), Kevin Wilson (Indiana)
This is biased in favor of good coaches because bad ones get fired, but this list contains 18 names before you even get to the "no alternative" section—approximately half of Power 5 existing head coaches had no experience with a top job when hired.
- In addition, there are a number of current head coaches with very brief or almost irrelevant head coaching experience. Before Nick Saban was hired at MSU he had all of one year as a HC at Toledo; Gus Malzahn was at Arkansas State for a single year before Auburn scooped him up; Hugh Freeze was at the same place for a single year and had a couple years at something called Lambuth beforehand.
When you take the guys who were hired based on things other than their head coaching experience you have a collection of assistant-hirin' schools that are amongst the biggest in college: Florida State, Oklahoma, Georgia, Oklahoma State, Washington, Oregon, Clemson, Wisconsin, Auburn, Ole Miss.
Hiring a hot assistant is a valid option if the right guy is available. And Tom Herman has a case that he's the right guy.
[After THE JUMP: all about that case.]