So yesterday was the first time we really got to try out my brother's new double-TV basement setup. The plan was to watch all of the football for 14 straight hours, but once the Wisconsin game ended the kinderfolk had taken over TV2 and put on the movie that the current generation of kinderfolk cannot stop watching: Frozen. During one lengthy halftime, we acquiesced to a volume swap, and soon enough here's this room full of men in MSU and Alabama and Michigan gear intently watching a (double-) princess flick.
|This won the internet' in December. By Red_Lee|
From what I've managed to piece together of the plot from 30+ partial viewings, there's a snowy kingdom with a rich shipping and ice manufacturing industrial base that comes to be ruled by a princess with magical ice powers. As a kid she shoots her sister with it. Later the sister gets engaged to a prince she doesn't bother to scout, and as a result ice princess accidentally locks her country in a polar vortex. Ice princess then runs off, sings "eff it all" and builds ice castles until her sister shows up, at which point she shoots her sister again. So now she has to come back and make things right, which leads to her shooting her sister a third time, and this slowly turns sis into an ice statue. Then ice princess hugs the statue and cries, and everything suddenly goes back to summer because all along she had the ability to de-ice everything by loving something other than herself.
Message received, Disney. Now that Michigan's leadership is actually focusing on the realm instead of the realm's perception of its leadership, it turns out our wealthy little Nordic fantasy land doesn't have to be a barren, frozen waste-tundra after all.
Bronxblue gave the whole coaching search his Best and Worst treatment. Like the rest of us, he found the whole thing refreshingly sensical, like Michigan was acknowledging factors that created bad decisions in the past, and was approaching the pursuit of Harbaugh and Plan B with a zeal for deliberation and responsibility that Dave Brandon put into presenting himself as deliberate and responsible.
He also got into the meta of reporting on this process. As a rule of thumb, the more a media person is saying "trust ME" instead of "trust THIS INFORMATION" the less you should believe him.
[After the jump, a long discussion of the running game next year, and a moment of zen you don't want to miss]
Michigan (8-5) at
West Lafayette, Indiana
|WHEN||2:15 pm ET, Saturday|
|LINE||Purdue -4 (KenPom)|
PBP: Eric Collins
Analyst: Shon Morris
Right: Purdue's enigmatic center AJ Hammons no longer has to contend with Jordan Morgan. He has, however, lost his starting job to freshman Isaac Haas. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]
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||1||Bryson Scott||So.||6'1, 206||30||27||Yes|
|High usage but not efficient; poor shooter and turnover-prone. Active defender.|
|G||0||Jon Octeus||Sr.||6'4, 175||61||16||No|
|Low usage, solid shooter, good rebounder for a guard.|
|G||21||Kendall Stephens*||So.||6'6, 197||60||21||Not at all|
|High-volume, high-efficiency three-point gunner. Not good inside arc.|
|G||35||Raphael Davis||Jr.||6'5, 217||62||19||Yes|
|Gets to rim a lot, finishes well, draws a lot of fouls, good FT shooter.|
|C||44||Isaac Haas||Fr.||7'2, 297||44||30||Very|
|Massive FR started last 6 games. Great finisher, rebounder. Draws tons of fouls.|
|C||20||AJ Hammons*||Jr.||7'0, 261||50||30||Very|
|Great rebounder and shot-blocker having down year offensively.|
|F||12||Vince Edwards||Fr.||6'7, 220||65||18||No|
|Efficient scorer both inside and outside. Solid offensive rebounder.|
|G||3||PJ Thompson||Fr.||5'10, 188||46||11||Yes|
|Small guy, smaller usage. Not much of a shooter.|
|G||31||Dakota Mathias||Fr.||6'4, 197||38||13||No|
|35% three-point shooter, just 4/15 from two on the season.|
Purdue, being a Purdue team of recent vintage, has a truly bizarre resume born of wild inconsistency. In nonconference play they posted quality wins over #36 BYU in the Maui Invitational and #81 NC State at home. Losses to #105 Kansas State and #52 Vanderbilt were at the very least understandable given the nine- and ten-point margins. Not so much the 31-point neutral court blowout at the hands of #18 Notre Dame, and certainly not the upset home losses to #172 North Florida and #160 Gardner Webb. The Vandy-ND-GW defeats all came in a row before the Boilermakers tipped off Big Ten play by... beating #29 Minnesota by four at home.
I don't know what to make of them, either.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
247 is reporting that three different recruits have been contacted by Greg Mattison in his capacity as a Michigan assistant coach within the last day. It's not clear what his role is, but we're going to guess he ends up as a DL or LB coach with either a co-DC or associate head coach title and put him on the assistant board in ink:
|OC||Tim Drevno||lock||DC||DJ Durkin||lock|
|RB||Ty Wheatley||probable||LB||Greg Mattison||lock|
|WR||Tim Morton||probable||OLB/DE||Roy Manning||probable|
Drevno may take on the offensive line by himself or Michigan may add a dedicated OL coach. Sam says Michigan is reaching out to OL coaches($), including Oklahoma's. Adding an OL coach would either mean that Michigan goes with just four guys on D or Marrow isn't added—I doubt that anyone would go without an RB or WR coach.
USE THE FORCE JIM. Daily article on Harbaugh's mentors with them all lined up…
…and the mind instantly puts them in this:
Sorry, Mr. Carr. Shouldn't have stood in the center.
MATTISON IS PRETTY MUCH IN. Man is still recruiting:
Isaac Nauta (@inauta24) said he talked to Greg Mattison: “He said I know you’re committed, but we’re going to recruit you until you sign.”
— Jeremy Crabtree (@jeremycrabtree) January 1, 2015
GET THIS MAN A TATTOO. Mark the Nomad has got to get some ink:
He's looking for the internet to fund it, in order to slightly reduce the chance this results in a divorce.
FIFTH YEAR OPTIONS. A quick glance at the roster will tell you that Michigan should be in the market for a graduate transfer QB. Their current options are either freshmen, Russell Bellomy, or Shane Morris. The former two have never played in college; the latter two have struggled immensely when they've gotten in the game. So this bit of news is intriguing:
A redshirt junior on track to graduate in June, [the Chicken Bowl] was probably [Kevin] Hogan’s last shot in a Stanford uniform. He hasn't addressed whether he'll return for his final year of eligibility, and head coach David Shaw intimated that Hogan didn't want to discuss it before the end of the season.
Harbaugh recruited Hogan, and he's obviously got he academic chops to make a smooth transition.
Hogan wasn't a world-beater this year (or he wouldn't be transferring) but he did finish with a 66% completion rating, 7.9 YPA, and a 19-8 TD-INT ratio. He's also a decent runner. He would almost certainly be an upgrade on Michigan's current options, and he knows the offense.
Another option: Everett Golson. Golson dropped off a cliff at the end of this year, as he turned into a turnover machine and split time with Malik Zaire in the bowl game. ND insiders and message boards are rumbling about a potential departure. If I had to bet I'd say he returns to ND, but keep an eye out if he doesn't.
DISCOUNT STILL IN EFFECT. Moe's is taking advantage of an opportunity with an enthusiasm unknown to retail-activation-kind.
AND SUDDENLY YOU'RE A FREE AGENT. Bills coach Doug Marrone has a bizarre window built into his contract that allows him to opt out at no cost… one he's just exercised. This puts his assistants in serious limbo, one of whom is Tyrone Wheatley. Even before this happened a lot of Michigan folk suspected that Wheatley would end up in Ann Arbor; now it seems highly, highly probable.
ALL THIS COULD HAVE BEEN OURS. LSU fans have always been turning on Les Miles, but now the knives are well and truly out. Miles is losing DC John Chavis to a megaoffer from A&M, leaving LSU scrambling to keep their defense as good as it needs to be to keep the wonky Tiger offense from submarining seasons.
ADDING TO MOUNT NFLWRONG. He hates recruiting!
Every old coach/staffer/whatever I've ever talked to who knows Harbaugh has ranted about how much he actually enjoys recruiting.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) December 31, 2014
His wife didn't want to come!
Was just talking to @IronsJarrett when Harbaugh's wife stopped to chat...she mentioned her shock re: rumors she wouldn't leave the Bay Area.
— angelique (@chengelis) December 30, 2014
His heart is in the NFL!
York, though, would not shed any light on what was said in those discussions, saying they were "private" in nature, though he did acknowledge that teams had inquired about trading for Harbaugh, and Harbaugh was not interested.
It was all about the money!
Jim Harbaugh told Hackett he did NOT want to be the highest paid coach in CFB, or even the Big Ten. More concerned with pay for assistants.
— John U. Bacon (@Johnubacon) December 30, 2014
NOPE. If you were wondering if Devin Funchess would return to the team because Harbaugh, your answer is no:
Just met coach harbaugh...Wish him the best with Team 136! Great guy glad he got the job #goblue
— Devin Funchess (@D_FUNCH) December 31, 2014
He'll be a first or second round pick in the draft even with the disappointing finish to his year.
WHAT ON EARTH. There is a woman named Ann Arbaugh who lives in Ann Arbor. And she's…
The Ohio State graduate said she hasn't abandoned her Buckeye roots, and that she's become an Ann Arborite but not quite a Wolverine-lover.
…an Ohio State graduate. Life is weird.
COLTS ON HARBAUGH. They didn't think he was a total weird megalomaniac:
"I've read about that side of him, but that's it," Ward says. "He was not thought of in that way (here), and it doesn't characterize Jim as we knew him. He was intensely competitive, absolutely, but he was a great team player and scrappy and always, always battling for the team."
Indianapolis fell in love with Harbaugh, in part because he was the anti-Jeff George, a superstar talent whose less-than-superstar results and aloof air – think Jay Cutler – rubbed people the wrong way. Jeff George was not what the city of Indianapolis craved in a leader. Jim Harbaugh was, and he gave this city what it loved.
There was the 1995 AFC championship game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh, when the Colts trailed 20-16 in the final minutes and Harbaugh was bleeding from a torn hand and still leading the team down the field before his final pass, a heave into the end zone, bounced away from Colts receiver Aaron Bailey.
"I remember blood dripping from his hand," Ward says, "and he singlehandedly pretty much drove the team within inches of winning that game."
If you missed it, Brian handled the recruiting primer for which needs Michigan should fill to finish out the 2015 class. Today's recruiting roundup will attempt to figure out which prospects are most likely to fill the ten or so remaining spots.
THE MOST LIKELY CANDIDATES
CT TE Chris Clark (4*, #2 TE, #80 Ovr. on 247 Composite): Clark, a former Michigan commit, consistently stated over the last few weeks that his interest in the Wolverines would rise significantly if Harbaugh took the job. He spoke with Harbaugh—whom he called the "LeBron James of coaching"—this week and told MLive's Nick Baumgardner it went very well:
"We kind of just talked about how he hopes Michigan turns into 'Tight End U,' and all the top tight ends he produced while he was at Stanford," said Clark, who will play in the Under Armour All-American Game on Friday. "I think six of them went on to the NFL. He said he thinks I could be a great leader for the class, and he's just hoping I'll be a part of it.
"He was a really cool guy, I liked him a lot."
Clark is now down to Michigan and UCLA, and I'd guess he ends up back in the fold.
MI ATH John Kelly (3*, #57 ATH): Kelly could play either running back or defensive back at the next level, though given Michigan's needs I'd guess he'll be recruited for defense. He spoke with Harbaugh within the last couple days and told 247's Steve Lorenz he was "really pumped" about the conversation ($). Even prior to that, he indicated Michigan was moving up his list ($):
"I would love to play for Coach Harbaugh," Kelly said. "I hear he's a tough coach. I'm looking to play for a coach that will try to squeeze out all of the talent and potential in me. His hiring is a great thing for Michigan as well. As long as he contacts me and my family, the chances of me playing at Michigan will definitely increase."
Michigan State is Michigan's chief competition, with Minnesota and Iowa also factoring in. Getting Kelly could help M's efforts in pulling in another major target: former RB commit and current OSU pledge Mike Weber, who's close friends with Kelly; they'd stated in the past they'd like to play together in college, and the Buckeyes aren't pursuing Kelly.
[Hit THE JUMP for probable visitors, other candidates, and the names you can scratch off the wish list.]
[For the new, this is our weekly roundtable that hasn't been weekly]
Harbaugh, upon being asked if he's too Harbaugh to Harbaugh.
Ace: Given the current roster, the schedule, and Harbaugh, what are reasonable expectations for 2015?
Seth: If they do indeed hang on to everybody, particularly Mattison, I think we're looking at a season that starts rough and ends strong. The defense trades Frank Clark and Jake Ryan for another year on everyone else, plus Desmond Morgan and Jabrill Peppers back from injury. They could be awesome. I'm a bit worried about staff gelling—Mattison is as close to a Hanlon assistant as you can get, but he's not going to take a Fred Jackson/emeritus role, and I won't be comfortable until I'm reading stuff about how he and Durkin are best buds having suds.
|Luck, yeah, but Harbaugh also was hot after RGIII as a recruit. Guy can spot 'em; can he make them is the more immediate question. [photo: getty via SF Examiner]|
On offense I am biased against offensive line coaches who become OCs because DeBord/Terry Malone/Les Miles have convinced me that on the conceptual spectrum of cleverness to manliness they tend to be "execution and toughness" extremists. But as long as Harbaugh's there contributing his special brand of messing with defenses, Drevno can preach the Tao of ass-kicking to his heart's content.
Michigan's biggest question mark is whether their talented but heretofore totally lost quarterback can be fixed in an offseason. That I don't know the answer to, but Harbaugh's on any short list of quarterback gurus who might pull it off.
Harbaugh's offensive leaps are tough to track because he inherited horrible teams at Stanford and San Diego, then rebuilt with his dudes. So the one relevant data point, and indeed all hope for a speedy recovery, is San Francisco. Remember Harbaugh took over in the lockout season so he (and the rest of the league) had barely more than collegiate time to prepare their teams. He then took them to 13-3, in the process turning Alex Smith from a brooding disappointment, to a team leader and efficient guy who doesn't turn it over.
I was already starting to get bullish on the offensive line by OSU. Whether they keep the zone or just parts of it, Michigan has, and paid dearly for, six to seven guys with extensive starting experience, most of whom are due for that big So. to Jr. leap. There are enough bullets in the RB and WR chambers that somethings will hit the target.
Dave Brandon's lasting legacy will be the even-odd schedule dichotomy, but that works out for 2015 at least. With MSU and OSU at home and a manageable Big Ten road schedule there are a lot of ways for Michigan to finish strong next season. Oregon State and maybe Utah will have new coaches (the Utes at least lost their top staff) so who knows what shape any of those teams will be in. BYU should be decent; that offense scares me, especially since several freshmen displaced senior multi-year starters (and ripped Texas 41-7) this year. Expectations are centered on Gator, or whatever 4th place in the Big Ten is these days, but I'm optimistic for a rivalry win and a Citrus Bowl where we wipe some overrated SEC team.
[Jump for Dave Nasternak's long-winded debut]