While we continue to play the waiting game these next few weeks — and in the spirit of today’s NFL scoreboard-watching and a ongoing analysis of the college “Football Four” — I had an idea. There have been endless speculation and rumors and so little clarity, and a myriad of possible head coach candidates multiplied exponentially by multiple coaching destinations for Candidate #1. Y’all know what we need, right? Of course, the device that always solves these types of multi-faceted challenges: Make a bracket.
Specifically, we’re going to create a “Harbaugh Four” semifinal bracket.
To borrow ESPN’s CoFoPo slogan, I believe we’ve seen the pool of possible destinations for Harbaugh get distilled down over the past few weeks, albeit via buzz, more buzz, and the Sportsbook odds (http://mgoblog.com/mgoboard/michigan-now-leads-harbaugh-sportsbook-odds). The final four appear to be the following:
#1 Seed: San Francisco 49ers While everyone would agree that they are the least likely “winner” of this bracket given the alleged bad blood boiling in the organization, the seeding is based on the bigger picture. Harbaugh is, in fact, their CURRENT COACH RIGHT NOW, and he has had tremendous success over his entire three-plus-year tenure there, so we’ll base the 49ers’ seed on being the “incumbent.”
#2 Seed: Oakland Raiders Oakland makes it “in” based on buzz and those NFL “insider” reports we love to hate, plus the whole Bay-Area thing and the fact that the Raiders gave Harbaugh his first pro coaching opportunity.
#3 Seed: Miami Dophins Miami represents what Vegas has on the boards as “other NFL team.” While it seems unlikely that Stephen Ross in any way publicly stated that he’d like to hire Harbaugh (that would be tampering), the concept does seem plausible. A much as Ross loves Michigan, his more direct business interests are with the team he owns.
#4 Seed: University of Michigan We’re in! Vegas’ up-and-down odds currently have Michigan #1 but this seeding is based on U of M being two factors separated from Harbaugh’s current status: Not only would be be switching teams, but also switching entirely back to the college-game paradigm.
Semifinal #1: San Francisco vs. Michigan
It’s Harbaugh’s friendship with former teammates and other UM alumni vs. the deteriorating relationships within the 49ers organization. It’s Schembechler vs. Walsh, former home vs. current home, pro vs. college. Some tough matchups, but if we are to believe that 49er management and ownership are ready to part ways with Harbaugh, with few tears shed by the players, then on this side of the bracket, Michigan wins and it’s not close. However if reality is not perception, and at the end of the season the Niners front office, the players and Harbaugh all come to some sort of meeting of the minds and decide that they have a good thing going, then the Niners will have justified their #1 seed — he simply stays put.
All things considered, though, assuming ships have sailed in Santa Clara, we’ll give this one to Michigan.
Semifinal #2: Oakland vs. Miami
The NFL season ends with both Miami and the 49ers missing the playoffs (and, of course, the Raiders too). The 49ers begin negotiations with Harbaugh and his agent regarding a trade. Several teams including the New York Jets express interest, but the Raiders and Dolphins rise to the top. This is where Jim Harbaugh is using Michigan as leverage: If he doesn’t like the destination where the 49ers want to trade him, he can simply tell them he’s going back to college. So the Raiders and Dolphins make the cut. Most (perhaps not all) other NFL suitors seem below the “Harbaugh-to-Michigan line” — if the 49ers attempted to trade him anywhere but the Raiders or Dolphins, he’d instead bolt to Michigan.
So the Raiders bring a few positive elements for Harbaugh to consider: They’re of course Bay Area-based, but only for the time being it appears. The may, however, end up remaining in California, moving to L.A. They have some positive history with Harbaugh, having given him his first NFL coaching gig, and present a challenge for JH to sink his teeth into. An NFL insider report this morning notes that the Raiders are ready to change GM’s and spend more, and could offer Harbaugh a GM-Head Coach package.
But not so fast: The Raiders are not quite the destination the 49ers had in mind: They’re a regional rival, and would be motivated to bring an alternate team into the conversation — one that is ideally in the other conference. Enter: The Dolphins.
The Dolphins have been on the fringe of the playoff hunt all year, and they remain there this week. However as the end of the season nears, their chances continue to diminish. The conventional wisdom is that if the Fins make the playoffs, their owner Stephen Ross would be compelled to stick with current head coach Joe Philbin. However, a sketchy “report” today has Ross stating that he’d like to go after Harbaugh if Miami misses the playoffs. While the report seems fuzzy since this would be tampering on Ross’ part, the concept seems sound.
I don’t know enough about how the process of the 49ers and Harbaugh extricating themselves from their situation will work in terms of draft picks, and who has more “say” in where he would go. If Harbaugh has “veto power,” or if York and Baalke will call him into York’s office and tell him where he’s going. But I can see the Raiders finding a way to screw this up, and the Dolphins being motivated to sweeten the deal. Especially, say, if the division-rival Jets are also suitors.
This one’s a toss-up, but today I’d give it to the Dolphins. Like I said, this morning’s shady/fake/whatever report on Ross’ intentions was at least plausible, and I would give the edge in any such contest to Ross over Mark Davis, NFL negotiations or otherwise.
So it’s the Dolphins.
Finals: University of Michigan vs. Miami Dolphins
In a stunning(?) upset, the top-seeded Bay Area contingent is shut out of the final, not-so-single-handedly by Stephen Ross (we figure Jim Hackett has a hand in there as well).
So here’s what this matchup will come down to, and Brian strongly alludes to this in his freshly-posted SEARCHBITS XV: MACHINATIONS http://mgoblog.com/content/searchbits-xv-machinations: If Jim Harbaugh wants to remain in the NFL, he will have options. If Jim Harbaugh decides that the college game suits his style better, he’ll return there. The choice will come down to the best NFL option (I think the Dolphins) vs. the best college option (Michigan and only Michigan).
The Stephen Ross factor Ross is more than the elephant in the room, he IS the room. Ross has been heard saying that he would love to see Jim Harbaugh return to Michigan. As UM athletics’ biggest benefactor (by far), he could be playing a leadership role alongside Jim Hackett and former UM greats in convincing JH to return “home,” and may be able to play a financial role. This was a few weeks ago, and made sense because Ross wouldn’t want to undermine his sitting head coach Joe Philbin. Fast forward to this week, and the “machinations” may be starting to move in a different direction, as the Dolphins are slipping out of the playoff picture.
So Ross plays a big role in this “contest,” but of course it all comes down to Mr. Harbaugh.
If Jim looks at the Oakland and Miami situations and feels that he a.) wants to continue to challenge himself in the NFL and b.) either of these franchises is the place to do it, he will likely work with the 49ers and either Allen or Ross to make that happen. If it’s the Dolphins, he will have made it clear to Mr. Ross that he prefers the NFL and Ross will rather see him coaching his NFL team than someone else’s, if Michigan isn’t in the cards.
Be it by direct statements by Ross and/or Harbaugh, or simply by implication, the Michigan fan base will have an understanding of “it’s not you, it’s me.” If Harbaugh considers himself an NFL lifer, this cannot be in any way considered a slap in the face. Many will take it as such, but it will be difficult to blame either of these men if Harbaugh wants to stay on the NFL path.
Elevator pitch time I’ve developed an “elevator” pitch for Jim Harbaugh, should I ever find myself (ha ha) crossing paths with him. In the vein of Apple CEO Steve Jobs courting Pepsi CEO John Scully with “do you want to sell sugar water, or do you want to change the world?” I would ask “do you want to be your brother, or do you want to be Bo?” Meaning, do you want to spend years trying to match your brother’s one Super Bowl ring, or do you want to win multiple Big Tens, go to a few Rose Bowls, and top Bo by winning a national championship?
I hope that’s the line of thinking, because I believe Harbaugh has his best chance of building his legend at a place where he’s already off to a gigantic head start. But I envision the endgame involving the Dolphins surfacing as the sweepstakes winner among NFL teams, and then things will probably centralize around a meeting between Ross, Hackett and Harbaugh, with the NFL vs. college decision crystallizing. You could say that Hackett and Michigan are the only ones who could lose in this situation. Harbaugh will do what he wants and get paid handsomely for it, and Ross wins either way.
Brian may not be bullish on Michigan’s prospects, but he’s certainly optimistic albeit cautiously so. Taking that plus today’s betting lines — and the fact that I along with everyone else on this board want it so badly — I’ll give the edge to Michigan. It “feels” like he’s leaning ever-so-slightly toward leaving the 49ers empty-handed and giving Ann Arbor every consideration.
So, this isn’t the NCAA Men’s Basketball bracket, so no running out of timeouts and no crappy calls on a last-minute shot block.
College football beckons. Legendary status awaits. Harbaugh returns. Michigan wins.
Circulating on Twitter
I wrote off Michigan’s struggles against NJIT as an aberration – after all, it’s unlikely that a team that shoots 34% (outside of their game against Michigan) hits 11-17 threes in a game – but at this point, it’s somewhat of a crisis: Michigan’s now 6-3, has two bad home losses, and is ranked 49th in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings and 98th in Jeff Sagarin’s. With Arizona on deck this afternoon, Michigan’s staring at a 6-4 overall record (really 5-4, as the game against D-II Hillsdale doesn’t count towards their resume) and a three-game losing streak.
Not to be too alarmist, but Michigan – projected by Pomeroy to finish 9-9 in the Big Ten – could find itself on the bubble and those two losses could be an incredible anchor dragging on the Wolverines’ resume. After the surprise run into the tournament in 2011, it’s been a given that Michigan participates in March Madness – two 4-seeds and a 2-seed over the last three years have been evidence of that – but as of right now, it’s hard to guarantee much. Pomeroy’s metrics gave Michigan a 97.5% chance of beating NJIT and an 86.8% chance of beating Eastern. U of M lost both: the chances of that were over 1 in 300.
At this point, Michigan is a complete unknown. Very solid (but not great) results against Oregon, Villanova – yes, it was a positive indicator of Michigan’s strength that they played the Wildcats close – and Syracuse contrast starkly with the embarrassing upsets at the hands of NJIT and EMU. Michigan was supposed to be a quality, fringe-Top 25 outfit and the first part of the young season certainly suggested that, but expectations need to be calibrated after losing a very bad and a solidly mediocre team at best.
Right now, NJIT is ranked 271st nationally and Eastern is 116th (via Pomeroy). In the last ten years, of Big Ten teams that made the tournament, there are only three roughly comparable home non-conference losses: Penn State lost to Maine (#209) and finished with an 10-seed in 2011; Purdue lost to Wofford (#197) as well as a sub-100 Iowa State team at a neutral site and finished with a 6-seed in 2008; Wisconsin lost to North Dakota State (#182) and finished with a 9-seed in 2006. NJIT is almost definitely worse than those Maine, Wofford, and North Dakota State teams. In and of itself, the Eastern loss isn’t that bad, but paired with the NJIT loss, Michigan’s almost certain to finish with a bad non-conference resume. Fortunately conference play should provide tons of opportunities for quality wins.
[AFTER THE BREAK: Panic! Or don’t. Whatever.]
There are slew of coaching change information flying around. The volume is so high it is deafening, and you can’t make sense of one rumor to the next. Who should you believe? What rumors can you trust? What exactly is happening?
Having a working understanding of how coaching changes work may bring you some level of clarity and ability to weed out chaff from the seeds. For those of you who actually have a life and have no clue how these things usually work, here is a short synopsis of how a new coach is hired by a major program.
Stage 1: Highlander
The battles are coming and the players are getting themselves ready.
This is when the search committee is making a list and checking it twice. The list is large (20+) since anyone who with any reasonable qualifications will be reviewed. The goal is to reduce this number to a manageable number where the vetting can begin. No candidates have been contacted officially, but feelers for obvious top candidates (HARBAUGH!!!) have been sent out via tertiary parties.
You will know when you are in this stage: This is also when you have the most noise, since any agent worth a damn is “leaking” information on how his candidate is a target for the job. Whenever you hear talking heads talk about “I heard from this agent” or “information from my trusted source” not related to the university, you can safely assume that it is coming from the agent who is trying to get his client added to the list (aka. “Michigan reached out to Jay Gruden”).
Harbaugh Deviation: You know you are the top candidate. Everyone you know who is related in anyway with Michigan is telling you, you are the top candidate. You talk about the job with your friends and family, but you are in the middle of a playoff charge, you do not have time to focus on something else.
Stage 2: The Quickening
The bodies of non-contenders are piling up and we start to see who is in it to win it.
The initial list of candidates are whittled down to a manageable size (Hackett is saying this is 14 for Michigan) so that actual vetting can begin. The possible candidates/agents are contacted to see if they are available. If they are, resumes are reviewed, backgrounds are checked, and discussions are held. You will leave enough room so that the candidate can honestly refute that he is looking at another job.
You will know when you are in this stage: You don’t hear a pip from real candidates since the search committee wants to keep this process private and will not look favorably to leaks coming from the candidate’s camp. You will hear from people who were contacted but responded with no interest (aka Cutcliff). There will still be residue noise coming from those who were not contacted, but really wants to be considered (GO AWAY JAY!!!)
Harbaugh Deviation: Your already slim playoff hopes are getting slimmer still. You know you are not coming back with the Niners and start thinking about what comes next. Everybody you know from Michigan are hounding you about taking the job.
Stage 3: Final Dimension
The final scene is set with our hero and his nemesis, and the final fight is coming.
The number of final candidates are set and stack ranked based on desirability. If the candidate is currently employed, the current employer is contacted for permission to interview. High-level negotiations are held to find out exactly what is going to be required to lock down the candidate and whether or not the candidate will accept the offer if given. Interviews are held in secret. Only thing left is the formal offer.
You will know when you are in this stage: There are a torrent of leaks from the target coach’s administration. The real candidates stop denying that they are looking for another job. Various rumors about salary numbers and other perks are leaked. Reports about a random dude claiming that he is a candidate disappears. There are various leaks about candidates turning down the offer (this is when this news would be legitimate).
Harbaugh Deviation: You ask for the world and you are somewhat surprised to find out that Michigan is more than happy to bend over backward to fulfill it (like Carr announcing publicly that Harbaugh is his choice). The season is over now and you are getting Facebook friend requests from various NFL owners. Do you stay in NFL or go back to college?
Stage 4: End Game
THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!!!
You have gone one by one down the stack ranking, and FINALLY one of the candidate says yes. You draft a formal agreement and send it for signature. When it is signed, you announce to the world that a coach has been hired. You deny anyone who suggest that you did not get your top choice and proclaim that only one offer was made and the candidate accepted it (which is technically true).
You will know when you are in this stage: You have a new coach.
Harbaugh Deviation: WHY WON’T YOU TAKE THE JOB????!!!! JUST TAKE THE JOB ALREADY!!!!!
From my point of view, we have just entered the stage 2. I suspect we will get to the stage 3 next week when Niners are officially out of the playoff picture. Hold on to your hat, it is going to be a bumpy one.
This is what NJIT’s gym looks like. Really. (Source)
YOUR WEEKLY B1G HOOPS COLUMN
*It’s the last week of class before finals and I’m really busy – Alex
Table of Contents
Our new least-favorite acronym
Is it time to panic?
The Big Ten defeats the ACC
Iowa wins in Chapel Hill
Remember: Michigan did beat Syracuse
Wisconsin, Ohio St., and Michigan St. lose
Michigan didn’t have the only awful loss
Early returns: individual player scatterplots
Early returns: efficiency margins
EARLY POWER RANKINGS
1. Our new least-favorite acronym
The elephant in the room is that–despite beating Syracuse in a key ACC/Big Ten Challenge clash–Michigan notched the most surprising result of the week (and maybe the most surprising result in all of college basketball so far this season) with a shocking home loss to NJIT, the New Jersey Institute of Technology.
After holding the Highlanders to just five points in the first ten minutes of the game, Michigan conceded 67 points over the next 30, and the Wolverine defense conceded the upset. To put it in context, NJIT’s outstanding eFG% of 70.7 was better than all but one of Michigan’s shooting performances last season (at Illinois – 72.5). While NJIT’s impressive 2-point percentage (55%) was a problem in and of itself, their eleven made three-pointers were the reason for the upset. To allow an opponent that had been shooting 33% from three to hit 11-17 is some extraordinarily bad luck. From Ken Pomeroy:
If you shot 45% in the first half of the 2011 conference season, you’d be expected to shoot about 35% in the second half. If you shot 25% in the first half, you’d be expected to shoot 33% in the second half. A difference you couldn’t notice with your eyes. I don’t know exactly what implications this has on strategy, but when evenly-matched teams get together, action happening beyond the 3-point line is like a lottery. You take a shot and a third of the time you have success.
Pomeroy’s analogy of the three-point line being a lottery – the amount of threes a team makes amounts to little more than a weighted random number generator and Michigan was absolutely torched by a team that, quite frankly, doesn’t shoot that well. This result is at the very far end of the bell-curve.
[AFTER THE JUMP: Panic? More on everybody else]
Sorry if this is too far away from the coaching threads, but I wanted to compare the success of each teams NBA player. I came away from this with these thoughts:
Michigan State as of now has the best current NBA players. However, in 5 years the likes of Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr, Mitch McGary, and Nik Stauskas are going to out pace Draymond Green, Gary Harris, and Adreian Payne. Here is what I came up with:
PG: Kalin Lucas (Memphis Grizzlies)
Has only played one game for the Grizzlies, not the best representative of MSU's talent.
SG: Jason Richardson (Philadelphia 76ers)
He has averaged 17.3 points per game over his career which is very solid. He led the NBA in 2007 for three pointers made. Has not played in two years.
Gary Harris (Denver Nuggets)
Has not really played this year, he has averaged 4 points per game so far. He played well in the summer league, and needs to break through into the lineup.
SF: Alan Anderson (Brooklyn Nets)
A decent role player in his career averaging 7.8 points per game.
Shannon Brown (Miami Heat)
Averaging 7.6 points per game he has been a good role player.
PF: Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
He has averaged 5.5 points per game with a recent spike. He is starting on one of the best teams in the NBA and is playing really well. He is the best out of these young players.
C: Zach Randolph (Memphis Grizzlies)
The best active MSU player in the NBA. He has averaged 17.1 points per game in his career. He has been an all star two times.
Adreian Payne (Atlanta Hawks)
Brief D-League stint. Behind lots of talent in Atlanta.
PG: Trey Burke (Utah Jazz)
A solid young player, needs to shoot a lot better. He should end up being a Jameer Nelson type player.
Darius Morris (Free Agent)
Recently waived by the Portland Trail Blazers. If he had developed a shot he would have been a really good pro.
SG: Jamal Crawford (Los Angeles Clippers)
A very solid NBA player, he has averaged 15.6 points per game over his 14 year career.
Nik Stauskas (Sacramento Kings)
Very similar to Gary Harris so far. Just played his best game last night where he scored fifteen points with eight rebounds.
SF: Tim Hardaway Jr. (New York Knicks)
He has averaged 9.9 points per game in his short career. He has surprised many so far. He jacks up a lot of shots and does not play the best defense, but he is among the upper tier of these players.
Manny Harris (Los Angeles D-Fenders)
D-League. Averaged 6.4 points in 89 games in the NBA. Averages 26.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, and 3.6 APG in the D-League.
PF: Glenn Robinson III (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Signed to a guarantee contract but has played sparingly. He has averaged 1.7 points in 7 games. Has had trouble breaking into a really bad Minnesota lineup.
C: Mitch McGary (Oklahoma City Thunder)
Broke his foot early on and is just now attempting a comeback. Mitch played pretty well in the D-League games he played.
Overall MSU wins for right now. But give Beilein a couple of years and this will change.
over the last several days, the amount of speculation and confusion regarding who Michigan will hire as the next
head football coach on these very pages has been great
all of this is misinformation and incorrect assumption
the smart folks have appealed to THE KNOWLEDGE to reveal the future and deliver them from this uncertainty
it is well known that THE KNOWLEDGE is the best source when it comes to coaching search, inasmuch as THE KNOWLEDGE
introduced himself to this blog during the 2007 coach search
there is a reason THE KNOWLEDGE has remained relatively silent during the current search for reasons that will
become obvious upon a thorough reading of this post
many is the number of fools who misunderstood what THE KNOWLEDGE had said in his previous post
thus, THE KNOWLEDGE can clearly reveal that these assumptions are wrong
in 2015, Michigan's AD will be David Brandon
in 2015, Michigan's football HC will be Brady Hoke
somehow, people (except a smart few) misinterpreted this as THE KNOWLEDGE saying that Brandon and Hoke will remain
at Michigan in 2015
this level of stupidity is truly mindboggling
now, onto the question of the new coach
if the question where who the best coach for Michigan will be, the answer is obvious
it is THE KNOWLEDGE
THE KNOWLEDGE will know what the opposition will do on every play even before they know it. thus, every offensive
snap for Michigan will result in a touchdown for the Wolverines, and every offensive play for the opposition will
result in a loss or interception
however, THE KNOWLEDGE does more important things to the universe that coach a football team; hence the next best
available coach must be found
the people that are laughing at Florida and Nebraska do not understand that those newly hired coaches will, in
fact, create dominant programs at those schools
can the same be said for Michigan?
will Michigan hire Harbaugh?
will Michigan hire Miles?
will Michigan hire Mullen?
will Michigan fans be unhappy with the hire?
will the unhappiness turn into happiness eventually?