This seems in poor taste. I mean, the Cowboys? [Dustin Johnston/UMHoops]
TICK TOCK. Sam goes to 70% and says he'd be at 99% if San Francisco's season ended today. Joe Pequeno says it's Harbaugh barring one of them last minute change of heart things. Bacon says 85%, also citing last minute change of heart. Bacon also says that Michigan made a pass at Harbaugh last time, "but a weak one."
Heck, even Adam Schefter continued inching towards "it's happening," twice saying that "the pendulum has swung to Michigan" on ESPN's mid-day NFL shows on ESPN2.
WHY? Webb reports that Hackett was "in the Pacific Time Zone($)" yesterday, with the possibility of major movement today. Those Who Stay reported movement on the agent side of things, with Harbaugh/Dunn meeting at which things are just about hammered out but not quite signed. Clearly something happened yesterday to create another wave of IT'S HAPPENING, and that's a plausible reason.
DONE DEAL? I don't think it's quite that, but I think it's just about pen-to-paper time. Reports filtering down from the big baller donors certainly think it is done—we had one on the site yesterday that we had to scrub because the poster made an unwise decision to spill, and the inbox has a couple more. This is very much a situation in which the game of telephone would turn "it's about to be done" into "it's done," though.
WHEN? Still hearing that things won't be official until the 49ers are done. Michigan appears to be assembling a press conference on or around the 30th. That certainly implies they think it's done.
A CATCH? Did get a report that at least some people in the 49ers organization think the pendulum is swinging back to the NFL; hard to square that with everything else I've heard. FWIW; that would be a potential reason the NFL insider types are so dismissive.
WELL, THAT'S ALL OUT IN THE OPEN THEN. 49ers GM Trent Baalke was on the radio yesterday, and when asked about Harbaugh he confirmed that Michigan had reached out to the 49ers directly:
"I don't know that it's been offered to him. I don't know that it's been offered at all," Baalke said on his weekly segment on 95.7 The Game. "I haven't seen a report that the contract has been handed to him and he's mulling it over." …
Fox Sports reported Sunday that Michigan relayed its interest to the 49ers, and he reportedly told them he was undecided on his future.
"I think the University of Michigan, in reaching out, did handle it correctly," Baalke said. "As I look at it, guys, it's very simple: He's the head football coach of the San Francisco 49ers."
So that helps confirm the chatter that Michigan was trying to work out the details with the 49ers because they were so confident they'd locked down Harbaugh their attention was turning to details like extracting him from his contract. Somewhat odd that Baalke says he hasn't "seen a report" that he's been considering a contract when he is capable of walking into Harbaugh's office and asking, but maybe the two guys don't talk much anymore.
MAYBE IT'S ALL IN RUBLES. Sam says he's got an unconfirmed number($) for the assistant pool that is just about about on par with LSU and amongst the tops in the country. I am hearing some rumblings that Sam's weird suggestion (Mattison might stay on as a LB or DL coach with additional title frippery to be determined) is on point, which would explain some of that pool.
HOW NOT TO BACKTRACK. Adam Schefter has been walking his no-way stance back gradually, and that's fine. I think he got some bad information early, but he's reporting what he hears and moving away from Protect The Shield more than most other people in his profession.
On the other hand, you could pretend that you're defending Schefter when you opened your coverage of this coaching search with "Harbaugh turned Michigan down" and tripled-down on that assertion when it became clear it wasn't anywhere near true. If you guessed Scott Roussel was that guy, you get a cookie:
Guys complaining to me on twitter “Scheffer has changed his story on Harbaugh a lot”. Truth is facts change. We just report them
— FootballScoop Staff (@FootballScoop) December 23, 2014
HOW TO CORPO-TWITTER. Well done, whoever:
— Michigan Football (@umichfootball) December 23, 2014
#BUTTHOLE. Former Jack Harbaugh QB and Jim staff member Willie Taggart on the man:
"A lot of people think he's a butthole," Taggart says, matter-of-factly. "But he's not. Some people want things the easy way, sometimes people want others to bow down and just give in and do things the easy way. It's never like that with Jim.
"He's going to give it to you how he sees it. It's not to demean anyone, but it's how he sees it. He always does what he thinks is right. And, nine times out of 10, he is."
If Taggart doesn't make it at USF (he's gone 2-10 and 4-8 in his first two seasons) I wouldn't be surprised to see him join a hypothetical Michigan staff in the event of an opening.
CHRISTMAS SCHEDULE. Normally we take a week off around this time of year, but with Michigan's coaching search still ongoing I'll be around more. I'm going to get in a car right now and be in it for most of the rest of the day. I don't plan on posting anything the 24th or 25th unless it is literally happening. If there is enough stuff there may be a searchbits or two on the 26th and/or 27th.
The 28th is when things will start rolling in earnest as the 49ers finish up their season.
ETC.: Narduzzi the favorite at Pitt. John Harbaugh says some boilerplate stuff about his brother. Harbaugh with photoshopped bread? Okay. Wetzel on why getting rid of Harbaugh is a bad idea. Brian Dohn on possible contractual trip-ups.
I write this column every year: a plea for humans of the college football world to use clear language instead of the names they have for bowl games. Truthfully, a brand name for a bowl game communicates something, but think how much more accurately we could communicate if things like geographical location, history, traditions, and common, relatable experiences were more important than who pays the most.
I realize not everybody enjoys the ability to elegantly express ideas to other humans as much as I do, and that mercantile interests can be human interests as well. But since I started using language in my communication, I've experienced a 1000% improvement in comprehension, and I wanted to share that success story with you. Don't believe me? Here are some other humans who've benefited from this same extraordinary device:
: "Hello, I'm Steve, a relatable middle aged white man with the body, hairline, and lifestyle that other middle aged white men envy. My wife Janet and I are proud Bowling Green graduates and big fans of the Falcons. I wanted to get Janet a trip to BGSU's bowl game for Christmas, but when I triumphantly announced "We're going to the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl!" she was very confused. Then I discovered Talking Like a Human Being™, which taught me to tell Janet it's the "Camellia Bowl in Montgomery." Janet was thrilled, because the name communicated to her that we were going to a bowl game in Montgomery, and the flower association made it memorable!"
: "I'm Lewis, a non-threatening yet sexy young African-American businessman with perfect skin. My in-laws are coming to visit our tasteful suburban Atlanta home over Christmas, but they asked me to drive them to the airport the afternoon of December 31st. When I tried to explain that we would have to leave very early because of "Chick-fil-A Bowl" traffic, they thought I meant the South is just that insane over a fast food restaurant. But when I called it the "Peach Bowl," suddenly they could recognize the name of a big traditional football game that they've heard about since the late 1960s, and even offered to order a taxi so that I could stay home and watch it! Thanks, Talking Like a Human Being™!"
: "I'm Krista, a cute and friendly Minnesota undergrad. Men find me very attractive in an approachable way, and women want to be my friend because they wish they looked this good while rocking a knit scarf, high wool socks, and "" stickers on my cheeks. I was so totally stoked by my Gophers' great season, but when I told my girls we were going to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl they were like "that's a crappy one" because until recently that meant the old Copper Bowl. So then I said it was "the old Capital One Bowl," but then they got even more confused because that's now the name of the Orange Bowl—you know, the BCS bowl in Miami that Big East teams used to go to. Then I discovered Talking Like a Human Being™. And once I said "Citrus Bowl" my friends knew that meant the bowl that 2nd place Big Ten teams go to, and they were more excited than that one time our sorority went ice skating with Goldy!"
: "I'm Batman. Specifically, I'm Batman from that 1990s Tim Burton movie with Jack Nicholson that hits all the nerd-nostalgia buttons for men between 25 and 40. When I say 'I'm Batman', people know that I'm Batman, because I've been calling myself Batman since 1939. Could you imagine if I was like: 'I'm Batman, presented by Vizio?' I'm sure I could make some money by doing that but to be honest I'm already filthy rich, and while Alfred assures me I could always use more money, I feel like the incremental revenue wouldn't be worth cheapening 75 years worth of brand equity. So I turned them down and went with Talking Like a Human Being™ instead. Because I'm Batman!"
[After the jump: bowl games in a human language, bowl logos without sponsors on them, and discussion on the whole title sponsorship business]
LET THE BODIES HIT THE FLOOR
Michigan easily dispatched an overmatched Coppin State squad to snap their four-game losing streak, coasting to a 16-point victory that wasn't as close as the score would indicate. The above GIF is more representative.
Ricky Doyle led the team with a career-high 16 points, going 6/7 from the field; he could've had even more if not for a 4/9 mark from the free-throw line. Derrick Walton recorded a career high in assists for the second straight year against CSU, dishing out nine in addition to scoring nine points.
Zak Irvin hit 3/7 three-pointers on his way to 13 points while hauling in seven boards. Caris LeVert did solid work on the glass as well, pulling down eight rebounds on top of his eight points. Kam Chatman added nine points, Mark Donnal eight, and the bench got plenty of run.
That included Austin Hatch, who tallied his first official career point at the line after getting fouled on a three-pointer that he very nearly sunk. After Hatch narrowly missed another opportunity from the corner, John Beilein called timeout to sub him out and allow the crowd a chance to give him a standing ovation. It was quite a moment to cap off a much-needed win.
So after several weeks and therapy I think we're ready to dispassionately regard things of a college football nature without the hurting. This is good because we know things about college football, and can use that knowledge for good, or you know, for picking fantasy teams.
This week we're congregating in 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.
Everyone has their tricks for drafting; I like to bring in advanced stats to know things like are both teams going to be playing at a high tempo (so more plays for my draftees) and if his opponent is an outlier against the relevant element (run/pass) of offense. I'll share my table for the pool of draftable players in this game, and highlight outliers (top 20 or bottom 30):
|Matchup||Pass Def Rk||Rush Def Rk||Plays/Min (rk)|
|Game||Tm1||Tm 2||Tm1||Tm 2||Tm1||Tm2|
|Florida St. vs. Oregon||58||33||50||42||2.37 (73)||2.74 (11)|
|Washington vs. Oklahoma St.||55||53||47||41||2.51 (41)||2.53 (36)|
|Iowa vs. Tennessee||65||13||24||22||2.33 (77)||2.5 (42)|
|Kansas St. vs. UCLA||51||23||27||54||2.08 (113)||2.62 (25)|
|Ohio St. vs. Alabama||10||26||37||1||2.33 (81)||2.28 (90)|
|Houston vs. Pittsburgh||93||76||111||93||2.45 (50)||2.07 (116)|
|Missouri vs. Minnesota||22||43||11||30||2.37 (70)||2.08 (112)|
|Wisconsin vs. Auburn||31||47||29||18||2.03 (123)||2.42 (56)|
I got tempo by dividing the total number of offensive plays by time of possession from NCAA's stats (saving the greater study for an offseason column). Rankings are from Football Outsiders' S&P+. From there you have to eyeball—a low tempo doesn't mean skip the guy and a bad rush defense doesn't mean you have to take that RB, but it does say if you're looking at spending $11k of your salary pool on Melvin Gordon it's good to know that Auburn has a pretty good rush D. Wisconsin's slow pace is Wisconsin's slow pace; Auburn's average pace suggests Gordon will get the usual amount of touches.
-$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 $600
never not funny
ANOTHER DAY FULL OF TREAD. Status quo after the Dolphins news yesterday. May get some leaks tomorrow if the players get some info; I am guessing Hackett doesn't put anything definitive in that call because he knows anything he says is going to get out. Hoping we get a coy but confident read from that.
Insiders now settling in: most are saying they are cautiously optimistic, think Harbaugh has told people it's happening, but are wary of NFL offers. Steve Lorenz pulled the trigger on a 247 Crystal Ball pick, so there's that. He's been on the verge of one for a while, and a couple things pushed him over the line($), including "'strong rumblings' from the agent side of things"—again information that does not seem to be part of the Michigan echo chamber.
UNLESS…? There are some rumblings this could be the done deal day. Those Who Stay says there's an agent meeting today; Mysterious Insider GFunk has been positive before and just went to 100% on Rivals; some rando who likes My Name Is Earl on twitter says it's done. I've got a couple of similar reports.
Individually I'd shrug those off, but a lot of them coming in quick succession may be a real thing.
MORE POSITIVE BITS. Another day, more confidence from within the echo chamber. Gregg Henson has a couple former players who are on board now and weren't before. Meanwhile the NFL reporter moonwalk continues:
Adam Schefter on SportsCenter: Limited quality NFL opportunities could mean Jim Harbaugh's best opportunity in 2015 is coaching at Michigan.
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) December 22, 2014
Pretty much the same number and level of NFL jobs will come open as everyone was expecting earlier this year. That's some spin right there.
TELEPHONE EXEMPLAR. Jay Glazer is reporting that the 49ers and Harbaugh are going to part ways within 48 hours of the season's end; he appears to be the only one doing so. It's tough to tell these days as any piece of news is replicated across a dozen platforms with REPORT tacked on the front of it, but I think it's just Glazer in a brief TV segment. Kawakami tweeted something similar, but he's not being passed around as a REPORT.
I bet Glazer's right; I also think that people are reading too much into his statement. He picked an intentionally vague phrase to communicate what's going down: "end that relationship." SI transformed that into "fired." Rivals asserts that Glazer is reporting the 49ers "will not seek a trade for compensation." Glazer did no such thing. He just said expect the two parties to move quickly after the season.
This obviously has implications for Michigan. If the 49ers are going to fire Harbaugh that potentially saves them some money; if they've given up on the idea of trading him at all that's a big hint as to where things are going. Unfortunately, Glazer said no such thing.
That's a good example of how things get twisted as they get passed along, at least. Why I'm more cautious than might be warranted.
PLAN B. This isn't directly about Michigan, but Adam Schefter reports that David Shaw isn't even thinking about leaving Stanford for the NFL:
Any NFL team hoping to make a major run at Stanford head coach David Shaw will, in all probability, come away disappointed, sources tell ESPN. …But those who know the 42-year-old Shaw now believe he will not leave Stanford, no matter how much the NFL wants him.
This is the opposite of the usual play for a coach coming off a meh year. Agents will float their guy as a possibility here or there in an effort to get an extension or at least some patience; this is not a guy who thinks he's under any threat saying stay away. That almost certainly means he won't be responsive to Michigan inquiries.
I didn't want to punt from the opponent 29 anyway.
ALSO IN PLAN B. Michigan is covering all their bases. They had a meeting Friday about Plan B, C, and D options. No names came out of that, unfortunately. They are checking out NFL coordinators, which is disappointing but sensible given the landscape post-Harbaugh. If Mullen and Miles aren't real candidates for whatever reason, the next option is…? I honestly don't know.
Don't panic—Michigan remains confident they'll get their guy. They are doing due diligence so they can move quickly even if Harbaugh doesn't come. This means it is not a "done deal"… as of a few days ago.
I'M NOT SURE THAT'S WHO YOU WANT TO RIDE WITH. That Rivals report also addresses that La Canfora article scoffed at around here yesterday:
For the record, he's right about Harbaugh briefly accepting the Michigan job [in 2011], U-M coveting his brother and John Harbaugh making it clear he wants to stay at Baltimore, and we've reported that in the last month. We also reported Michigan's interest in Payton, at which point reporters like Fletcher Mackel out of New Orleans dismissed it as "embarrassing."
I've heard a lot of different things about Harbaugh "briefly accepting" the job in 2011, and they're all semantics. Mostly those assertions are used to make the insider feel good about being wrong or paint Harbaugh in a negative light. I don't buy them, and I've heard as much stuff about how Brandon scared Harbaugh off as stuff about how it almost happened.
We know that The Process didn't end up firing Rodriguez until January 5th, the same day Harbaugh met with the 49ers for five hours. The Michigan job is open for all of a day before Harbaugh is hired. Either Michigan was actively undermining the guy who was supposedly still their head coach or the brief acceptance thing is a joke. It is certain that there was no point at which Harbaugh agreed to coach Michigan while the job was actually open. If he verbally assented to coach Michigan in December, it is on Dave Brandon for not locking that down by maintaining the fiction that Rich Rodriguez had a shot to keep his job.
Meanwhile, trying to buttress your argument that Sean Payton was really an option with an article that mentions Doug Marrone and Jason Garrett…
Michigan (6-5) vs.
Coppin State (1-9)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||8 pm ET, Monday|
|LINE||Michigan -22 (KenPom)|
PBP: Eric Collins
Analyst: Shon Morris
Right: We're befuddled too, Jim.
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||11||Taariq Cephas*||Sr.||5'10, 165||69||22||No|
|Decent 3-pt shooter, good number of assists, poor shooter inside arc.|
|G||10||Christian Kessee||So.||6'2, 180||54||20||No|
|Low volume, high efficiency outside shooter. Bad inside arc. Turnover-prone.|
|G||24||Sterling Smith*||Jr.||6'4, 185||63||17||Yes|
|Just 29% 3-pt on nearly 2/3 of his total FGA.|
|F||3||Arnold Fripp*||Sr.||6'7, 210||67||22||No|
|Best (only) inside-outside threat. Plays a lot of C despite low reb. numbers.|
|C||2||Lawrence Fejokwu||Jr.||6'9, 260||35||12||Very|
|Decent block/steal rates. Not a great rebounder. Very foul-prone. Shoots 30%.|
|G||5||Daquan Brickhouse||Sr.||5'8, 160||48||15||Yes|
|Good assist:turnover. Top-100 steal rate. Lives up to name: 39% eFG.|
|G||21||Jahvari Joseph||Sr.||6'4, 185||40||25||Yes|
|Volume shooter, solid inside arc (18/34), terrible outside of it (3/21).|
|F||1||Dallas Gary||Sr.||6'5, 210||26||27||Yes|
|5/22 2-pt, 2/13 3-pt, turnover-prone, low rebound #s. 53.1 ORtg. Yikes.|
Coppin State is, um, not good. Their lone win this year came at home against Goldey Beacom, which is not an off-brand cable company but a 3-8 D-II squad. They've lost to three teams ranked in the 200s on KenPom. In their four matchups against top-100 teams, the smallest losing margin they've had was 21 points, the next-smallest 37. They share a common opponent with Michigan: Oregon, whom the Wolverines beat by seven and the Eagles lost to by 42.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]