somehow we're only 124th
never not funny
IT'S HAPPENING? IS IT HAPPENING? TELL ME IT'S HAPPENING. You go out of pocket for a few hours and you come back and the internet's falling apart. Near as I can tell there were a couple of posts around 8:30 last night on Scout and Rivals, both of the positive variety. Allen Trieu mentioned($) something might happen tomorrow(!). Which is today(!!!). (Side note: GBW has a rumors board that they can report more freely on without guaranteeing total accuracy, so don't get down on 'em if they're off some.)
A few hours later, Jeff Moss and Gregg Henson joined in with highly positive updates. I know, I know, I'm considerably more cautious than those two guys. And in this case there are NFL parties yet to be heard from, things that could change, etc. But they've had things before, so that should affect whatever your Bayesian estimate is to some degree.
The night ended with Steve Lorenz adding his stuff to the GOOD NEWS pile($), with "important Michigan-related figures" incrementing their optimism. He's "cautiously optimistic" now. Oh, and Trieu again($).
The upshot from everyone is a rising tide of optimism.
TODAY?!?! No. Trent Baalke's de rigueur "we evaluate after the season" statement happened late afternoon yesterday. Most targets are still in two weeks. It's highly unlikely we hear anything today. I'm betting we have to endure the full 12 days in limbo here unless it all falls apart.
SOURCES OF SAID TIDE. Moss says that Brandstatter is feeding some of this information to people. Brandstatter says he isn't. I have heard that Jack Harbaugh is a major source for both Rivals and the pile of former players who are increasingly giddy. Jack would know a lot about Jim's intentions, but I am a little worried that Jack wants this to happen so badly that he may be overstating the case.
Then you've got players Harbaugh talks to, guys he might be reaching out to as staff members… there is a lot of chatter.
A RISING TIDE… EXCEPT THIS ONE GUY. Some cold water: got a lengthy note from a source who is second-hand but has had good info during coaching searches past that is basically a re-iteration of the NFL reporter position that Michigan's chances are slim at best. I believe the guy, and believe the NFL reporters to some extent—there is clearly a story out there in which Michigan is the wallflower hoping to get noticed by the prom queen. There was a credible-seeming Cassandra on Rivals offering up a similar story about how this isn't happening and was never happening.
Some of this is from people who swear Harbaugh wants to remain in the NFL. Some of this comes from within the Michigan base. It would look pretty bad for Brandon if Hackett did lock Harbaugh down, and it was mentioned to me that he is hoping it doesn't happen. He could be a negativity vector there. That would be the best case scenario for this undercurrent of NOPE amongst the cresting wave of euphoria for the same reasons Jack Harbaugh might be overly enthusiastic.
It is hard for me to reconcile the piles of internal optimism with the idea Harbaugh is just stringing Michigan along. There would be a way to approach this without giving everyone the impression it's happening dot gif. On the other hand, this is a credible person. There are people close to Harbaugh who think it's not happening dot gif.
Many someones are about to be very wrong.
ON THE TRAIL. As a counterpoint to that, heard that a Michigan assistant has been pinging kids in his area asking them to hold off on commitments until Harbaugh is in place two weeks from now. A couple of the staffers are hoping to stick… well, most of them probably are, but a couple in particular have higher hopes than others. They're pitching the big kahuna.
EXIT LES. Les Miles had a weird intro to his press conference yesterday, talking to reporters off the record about his interest in the Michigan job: he has none. Cameras off, direct quotes prohibited, gist communicated: weird.
Why he wouldn't just issue the standard press-conference denial is unknown. The explanation that comes to mind is that he was wary of getting a little emotional now that he knows for-sure-for-sure he'll never coach Michigan. Or he could just be weird. That is always on the table with Les.
If you're so inclined, you could read this as evidence that IT'S HAPPENING, as word trickles out to connected Michigan people and Les's slim hopes have just gone to zero. The other option is that all the people swearing up and down that Miles would come back if given the opportunity are wrong. The agreement there within the Michigan insider community is iron-clad, though.
ON ASSISTANTS? Are we talking about assistants already? Seems way ahead of ourselves, but okay. Ty Wheatley has been rumored to be on his way back ever since it looked like Hoke wasn't going to make it. It's obvious why—Michigan Man.
He has also made his interest in returning known, as long as it's some sort of upgrade on his current role as the Bills' RB coach. While Michigan probably wouldn't want to throw him in the deep end as a coordinator right away, something like OSU's recent setup with Tom Herman and Ed Warriner as co-OCs would work.
Sam Webb recently downplayed speculation by saying their hasn't been any contact; even so that seems like it might happen once a hypothetical staff hypothetically starts being assembled.
Durkin also had a minor role in Office Space
Trieu also dropped($) Florida DC DJ Durkin's name. Durkin was the DE/ST coach at Stanford for Harbaugh's first three years there, then moved on to Florida, where he was an LB coach for a bit before taking over as DC for the last two years. The obvious catch is that he was working under Will Muschamp, who is now making more than a lot of head coaches as Auburn's DC.
Durkin is in demand, being courted by UNC and A&M; as a Youngstown guy who went to BGSU he has a ton of those Ohio recruiting connects. There was some chatter that he'd be retained by McElwain but Thayer Evans reports that UF is going to hire Mississippi State DC Geoff Collins—yes, the you're a baller guy—instead*. Interestingly, Durkin was a GA under Urban Meyer for the two years Meyer was there, then moved on to Notre Dame in the same capacity—no doubt on Meyer's recommendation.
*[Exhibit A as to why Mullen would jump at the chance to move to a school with more resources.]
PLAN B. Heard for a second time that Tom Herman was under serious consideration as a backup plan. With Les out for whatever reason, the non-Harbaugh options get slim fast if Michigan cannot poach a Power 5 college HC in a good spot—always hard to do and harder these days when everyone has buckets of cash.
I'm just sayin', Dan Mullen hasn't signed that extension… because now it's real easy to see Michigan burning through candidates until it's looking at wild-ass swings at up-and-comers like Scott Frost (high on CSU's list) or the Schiano-Addazio-tier Life Is A Grim March To The Grave candidates. Mullen told the local media via text he hasn't heard from Michigan, period, and in this case I believe him. If Collins does jump to Florida he's got to be steamed, though.
I wonder if someone at Michigan will reach out to Herman and tell him not to sign anything just yet—Herman already announced he wouldn't be joining Houston until OSU is out of the playoff. He is looking increasingly like Michigan's best will-obviously-come option. Short term sketch? Yes. Worth it if we don't hire Steve Addazio? Yes.
SERIOUSLY. Bo Pelini. Pitt. Make it happen.
I KNOW IT'S OVER AND OH IT NEVER REALLY BEGAN EXCEPT FOR THREE CONSECUTIVE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME APPEARANCES BUT IN MY HEART IT WAS SO REAL. San Francisco is eliminated from the playoffs. (Thanks, Lions!) This should accelerate everyone's decision-making process. Harbaugh is now going to consider his future in earnest; Michigan will enter with their bag with "$$$" on the side and hope to woo the fair maiden.
I've heard that both Harbaugh and the 49ers will start moving now. While official announcements may wait until after the season, the process of making a decision starts in earnest now.
This time there will be no coy crap, no hedging on the part of the athletic director about how much control Harbaugh will have or how much film he gets to watch. (Academics are the one area in which Harbaugh will have to compromise somewhat, as the AD does not have control over Michigan's willingness to admit JUCOs. The guy made it work at Stanford; Michigan is way less hardcore than Stanford.) Michigan will approach Harbaugh with an offer competitive with the NFL and the promise that at no point will he be forced to apologize for one of his players putting a piece of metal in the ground.
If he doesn't end up coming, at least we'll know that Michigan did everything they could this time.
ON LES MILES. I have to make an about-face here. Just yesterday I said that Miles had seemingly found himself on the shortlist after years in the wilderness. Another day's worth of information and I don't know that's true. Michigan made basic contact with Miles (or, in one version of the story, his agent finally got through to someone after calling repeatedly) and that's as far as anything went.
Depending on who you talk to, he's either a prominent non-Harbaugh viable option or far enough down the list to be irrelevant—ie, behind a guy who would obviously take the job. It sounds like a lot is being made of not much contact. There is a large group of guys close to the program who advocate for him, and I think that's where that's coming from.
Still, the next two bullets mean he's in play.
OFF THE BOARD. OSU OC Tom Herman takes the Houston job. I had just heard the first reliable thing that Michigan was looking at him as a plan B option and now he's (almost certainly) not one of those. I am distressed, because I'm with Bruce Feldman:
If I was a #Houston fan I'd be thrilled. I think Tom Herman is as close to a 'Can't Miss' as you're gonna find in a first-time head coach.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 15, 2014
On the positive side, OSU no longer has the guy.
MEANWHILE, PLAN B. It's not hard to see things falling through to Miles if Harbaugh doesn't take the job. There is no consensus on who secondary options are. Scout keeps pushing Jim Mora; Rivals keeps pushing Bob Stoops. I've heard both. The problem there is that neither is in a bad spot; either could be mentioned largely because agents are trying to get an extension for their clients (Mora) or make their guy look attractive after a crappy season (Stoops). People high up in the university admin think that the reported Stoops interest is indeed an agent play.
If neither of those guys makes a move, the next best idea the paysites seem to have is Sean Payton. As discussed, I will believe that is even a vague possibility if Payton is fired by the Saints and only then. The prominence of a sitting NFL coach with an $8 million contract on the plan B list is a bit alarming. To me that means "we do not have enough reasonable names to fill out a plan B list."
If Michigan refuses to consider Dan Mullen and Herman is off the board, then after they get through their list of debatably available sitting head coaches who's left?
That's some good pointing at least.
ON DAN MULLEN. There has been absolutely nothing about him anywhere, from my inbox to the paysites to randos on twitter who seem to have a connect. Nothing. The only chatter anyone's gotten is that Mullen is off the radar after Michigan called up Jeremy Foley and Foley bombed him.
Broken record time: that's a major mistake. At this point, Jeremy Foley's hired a blindingly obvious Urban Meyer, Ron Zook, and Will Muschamp. He drew every media member within a 500 mile radius to his contract negotiations, like the world's most wizened sixty-foot tall bug zapper. If he has opinions, Michigan should take those into consideration.
It's possible he'll emerge if Michigan gets shot down by the currently mentioned Plan B guys—coaching searches are weird like that—but that's if and only if Miles is truly unpalatable to the key players. Which he might be, for reasons both valid and not.
ON LOU HOLTZ. COULD HE BE PLAN B? Probably not. According to a reader, Holtz doesn't think it's going to happen. He cites the "wife loves the West Coast" issue, so take it FWIW. While wearing a raincoat, in possession of scuba gear. Preferably.
I WOULD CHORTLE. Please please please:
— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) December 15, 2014
Not only would that be hilarious, it would open up a number of Notre Dame commits to poaching in a situation where Michigan is going to need to make some fast friends.
Etc.: Kawakami on how the 49ers management undermined their season.
REMAIN CALM. I am now getting some chatter to the effect that Harbaugh is coming, pending t-crossing and i-dotting. None of it is from a source I would consider rock solid, and all of it comes with an ominous "barring a last second change of heart" disclaimer. Please remain calm.
It feels like warranted optimism transforming itself into e-fact via a game of telephone—I can confidently say that there are people close to the situation who think it is happening, some of them very strongly. Whether they're right is another matter. Harbaugh may get NFL offers that change the equation. Right now Michigan can talk to him all they want; NFL teams would get hit with accusations of tampering if they did so. Everyone, including Harbaugh, is working with incomplete information.
A POTENTIALLY MEANINGLESS STATEMENT WE'LL TAKE AS GOSPEL. Raiders owner Prince Valium on his general manager:
-Q: Have those two wins helped you in your assessment of the football operation? Are you sticking with Reggie McKenzie?
-DAVIS: As I said, I never really said I wasn’t going to keep Reggie on board.
-Q: He’s your guy still, right?
-DAVIS: He is my guy right now, absolutely.
-Q: That means there’s still the possibility of dramatic changes, I guess.
-DAVIS: There are always possibilities for anything.
-Q: What do you think about Jim Harbaugh?
-DAVIS: (Laughs.) It was great talking to him.
McKenzie (not that McKenzie) is coming off an excellent draft, FWIW. Davis seems positive about him but "never really said" and "right now" are back doors that indicate some hesitancy. The upshot for Michigan is that if Oakland is inclined to keep McKenzie, they wouldn't be offering Harbaugh the moon that is full personnel control.
Of course, Oakland could be convinced to throw McKenzie overboard if Harbaugh was interested. Cue rumor:
Oakland preparing for sweeping changes that involve its GM Reggie McKenzie, according to league sources. Mark Davis getting ready to spend.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 14, 2014
This has been a completely useless searchbit. Thank you for your patronage.
OTHER NFL MACHINATIONS. Dolphins coach Joe Philbin is under pressure in Miami, with local reporters asserting that his job "may hinge" on making the playoffs. Philbin's in his third year with Miami, having gone 7-9 and 8-8 in his first two years. They're 7-6 this year and currently trailing the Patriots. If they do lose that game they'll have a very tough road to a bid.
The guy firing Philbin is of course Stephen Ross, Michigan mega-donor. Ross has been rumored to be amongst the heavy hitters putting together a neato financial package for Harbaugh, so a Harbaugh pursuit would be an about-face. Said local reporter says this would happen. At least, I think so. The article is full of seeming autocorrect errors:
The source said Ross would try to upgrade a team that missed the playoffs for a sixth consecutive year by revisiting the idea of hiring Jim Harbaugh. … If the Dolphins cannot get to the postseason, Ross would have work to do and most of the assignment will center on Harbaugh.
Anyway: Ross pursuing Harbaugh would be tricky if Ross wants to get into all the good parties when he comes back to Ann Arbor. If Harbaugh does turn down a generous Michigan offer because he wants to stay in the NFL and that becomes public—probably because Michigan hires someone else—then Harbaugh could end up with the Dolphins without making Ross look that bad. Anything else and not so much. Steve Lorenz reports that Ross gave his word he would not chase Harbaugh to "more than one figure" in the Michigan community.
Given that, if the Dolphins do go hard after Harbaugh you should take that as a sign the dream is dead.
NON-MACHINATIONS? Ian Rapoport says the Dolphins are still not a player for Harbaugh. Rapoport previously reported that M left a meeting with Harbaugh "convinced he wants to be an NFL coach" a week ago, something that is almost certainly not true given the way the search has developed (or not developed) and the steady drumbeat of positive insider chatter. So take it with the appropriate level of certainty.
I do think Rapoport's more likely to be on point when he's talking to NFL teams about what they plan to do than trying to read the mind of Jim Harbaugh. Also:
@dpascoe72 yes i do.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 14, 2014
If Michigan was convinced that Harbaugh wasn't coming, wouldn't Ross 1) know that and 2) being going full guns here?
PLAN B. To my moderate chagrin, it is looking increasingly like Miles is the fallback option. He is definitely a fallback option, and depending on who you listen to (and what time you listen to them) there are somewhere between 0 and 2 guys between him and Harbaugh. Since the guys who could intervene are usually of the Stoops/Mora/Payton variety—longshots—Miles would become the favorite if Harbaugh turns M down.
The heavy favorite: everyone who knows Miles swears up and down he would come with two nanoseconds of the offer. What about 2007? Miles was never officially offered in 2007 and got roped into an LSU extension before Michigan could seriously contact him; with LSU on the verge of playing for a national title and Michigan's interest uncertain Miles had to go with the LSU AD's clever power play. There is no such hold on Miles now, as his team prepares to play in the Music City Bowl.
Why only moderate chagrin? Hey, he's not Schiano or Adddazio.
ON THE OTHER HAND. Webb reports that contact with Miles has not yet been "substantive." The focus is on Harbaugh.
IT COULD HAPPEN
JOE MOGLIA IS ALL YOU NEED TO HEAR. Football Scoop weighed in again, for what little that's worth. Michigan's honchos now "understand that Jim Harbaugh is unlikely to come to Michigan," according to site that previously said M had been turned down flat two weeks ago. Meanwhile, Steve Lorenz reports that the idea that Jim Mora and Dan Mullen have been run by the regents is "total bunk," so that's most of the post.
The rest of it is spent promoting the fortunes of Joe Moglia, the CEO-turned-Coastal-Carolina coach, who is 65 and coaching FCS. (Yes, that's totally different than pumping Bob Stitt.)
While I'd like half of that post to be true (the bits about Mora and Mullen being next options), it's clear that whatever FS gets right about this search will be by accident. This offseason they've already "reported" Bo Pelini to Youngstown State, Bret Bielema to Nebraska, and Lane Kiffin winning the Broyles.
GOING OFF THE BOARD? Ohio State OC Tom Herman is under heavy consideration at Houston. Houston's a good mid-major job that has sprung Art Briles and Kevin Sumlin into the big time, and Herman has a decade of Texas experience to his credit. Houston would be dumb not to offer him the job; Herman would be dumb not to take it. If Houston does in fact go after Herman that'll almost certainly be before Michigan gets down to the coordinator-scouring level. So merph.
Given the Miles chatter this is all likely to be moot anyway.
ALSO OFF THE BOARD. Sportsbook.ag again pulled the Harbaugh bet after more and more Michigan money came in. Last time this bet came up, a commenter pointed out that as online books go, Sportsbook.ag has a D- grade from an industry rating service and is not taking major money on this—it wouldn't take a whole lot to swing those odds.
FOUR WAY TRADE? Bo Pelini for Pitt. Yeah. Yeah man.
Etc.: ESPN's Dan Murphy has the least dismissive national take on Michigan's search that I've yet seen.
who are you going to believe, a black and white 1950s comic strip or common sense?
YOU HAVE BEEN OFFERED THE JOB. Michigan is talking to people now. One of those people was David Cutcliffe or his agent, which led wildly inaccurate NFL.com insider Gil "Thorp" Brandt to assert that he had been offered the job and turned it down. What actually happened: Michigan gauged his interest and he said no thanks*. Or nothing at all, but taking public statements from the people involved at face value is never advisable in a coaching search.
If Michigan did contact him, why would Cutcliffe say "no thanks"? He's 60 and underwent triple-bypass surgery in 2005 that he thought might end his coaching career; Duke was described to me as a "surprise retirement job" for him. Anyone could call him and he would not leave Durham, where he has infinite job security and a level of commitment he can be comfortable with.
What does this say about Michigan's end? They're casting a wide net and poking anyone who looks like a quality college head coach so they have a list of interested people in the event they don't get Harbaugh. Asking after Cutcliffe is a good idea—he's a terrific coach. Or it means nothing at all in the event it didn't happen.
NEXT UP ON LET'S GO NUTS ABOUT A PHONE CALL. Michigan talked to Les Miles's agent yesterday, according to everyone except LSU. (See what I am saying about public statements?) This spawned a WHAT DOES IT MEAN thread on the board that was a little overheated—not that I expected anything else. It's clear that Miles is a guy Michigan should ask about if their policy is "let's talk to good head coaches," even if there remain conflicts between Miles and big chunks of the program alumni.
A call is a call. It means that Miles is not entirely off the list; it doesn't mean much more than that. It has spawned a lot of insiders chattering about how he might be #2 on the list, which would be a shock to me. If so, Hackett is an OG for real. There are a lot of "over my dead body" hurdles to clear there.
An alternate possibility: Hackett made a very public overture to Miles—every newspaper and site had it yesterday, and prominently—in an effort to spur Harbaugh to a decision. That doesn't necessarily mean Miles isn't a legit candidate. The nature of the contact when everything else is murky and disputed is a clear signal to Harbaugh, though.
*HERE IS HOW THIS WORKS. Search firms create a pool of candidates; when they do that they make sure that pool consists of people actually inclined to take the job. A reader who's been involved in these sorts of things details the process:
Anybody who’s been involved in either side of a job search conducted by a search firm knows that the search firm’s job is to create a pool of candidates. As a potential candidate, you get a call (or, I guess if you are important enough, your agent gets it) from a staffer at the search firm. The person asks you whether you’d be interested in being a candidate. (Sometimes the first question is whether you know anybody who’d be interested and would be a good candidate.)
You ask about the process - how many people are they contacting? What’s the timeline? In my world, to commit to the process, you actually have to do something like write a letter of interest and submit your C.V, and I don’t know if that’s true for coaches. But you DO have to commit to expending time, energy, and the possibility of disappointment if you say “yes.”
So from time to time I will get a call about an opening because I’m a plausible candidate, even if it is only to make sure that the firm has fulfilled its duty to create the pool. And in most cases, I’ll make an immediate decision that throwing my hat in the ring isn’t worth it, because the likelihood of getting the job just isn’t worth the physical and psychic costs.
The news story on Cutcliffe in particular struck home that way. He’s a plausible candidate to have in the pool. He’s got a good job. He’s not likely to make the final cut. He says, “no, thanks, I’m not interested,” not because he wouldn’t like the idea of being the coach at Michigan (just as I wouldn’t mind being the dean at the XYZ Law School), but because he says or thinks, as I do, if Jim Hackett (or the equivalent provost in my case) really wants me, have him give me a call and we can cut to the chase, but I’m not willing just to fill out your NCAA 64 team bracket.”
There, I feel better.
Michigan is obviously creating this pool in earnest now.
BUT WHAT ABOUT HARBAUGH? I don't think this means much about Harbaugh. It rules out wildly optimistic scenarios in which Harbaugh has already agreed to the job and is going to punch Jed York on the field Sunday before escaping in a block M emblazoned helicopter, giving the stadium an epic double bird while laughing maniacally on his way out.
Michigan is uncertain enough that they're giving themselves a fallback option, or fallback options. This fits with the general belief that Michigan has come after Harbaugh with a very strong offer and hopes he accepts it, but doesn't know.
I've heard conflicting things, but one thing that seems clear is that Harbaugh is 100% honest when he tells the media he is not focused on anything other than his current job. If the 49ers get eliminated from the playoffs things might start moving faster then. Right now Harbaugh is still maniacally focused on something other than where he'll be next year. Frustrating; also why he's a very good coach.
NFL OPENINGS NOT SO OPEN. Despite currently being 5-8 in his second year with the Bears, local opinion holds that Marc Trestman will be back next year. Harbaugh was of course a Bears QB for a long time and an open Chicago job was described as a "problem" a few weeks ago.
how not to conduct a coaching search
an epic poem in iambic pentameter
by Jeremy Foley
"DISORGANIZED." Bruce Feldman called Michigan's search that while discussing Cutcliffe, and we've heard other media people echo that assertion. For one, I don't think that's knowable. For two, M has been laser-focused on Harbaugh; agree with that approach or not it is a clear goal Michigan is pursuing before exploring other options.
For three, I fail to see why Michigan's search is being held up for ridicule when Nebraska just hired a 62-year-old who's under .500 in the last five years and Florida—Florida!—botched their search so badly that half of the media in a five-state radius descended on their negotiations. Those negotiations fetched a guy with three years of head coaching experience for a seven million dollar buyout. Michigan doesn't have a coach yet, sure. I'd rather have this search than either of those.
PLAN B. Still nothing resembling clarity. Scout's Jamie Newberg reports($) that Jim Mora, Dan Mullen, Bob Stoops, and Butch Jones have all said no thanks; 247's Clint Brewster reports that Mullen and… erk… Bret Bielema could be next options after Harbaugh. He also says Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell is not so much, after Sam named him a person of interest. Nobody knows!
Similarly, opinions on how realistic a Miles candidacy is are all over the place. Brewster says "some people directly tied to NFL and college agents" say it's his to lose(!); Rivals and Scout are far more circumspect—or at least were. Today the chatter is that he's moving up, potentially way up. In this case I place far more trust in the local guys than some agent chatter. But, man.
At least there's this: on GBW's new, insane rumor board Sam noted that Schiano's support comes from his agent and this guy who runs the search firm and his detractors include($) "anyone with coaching experience" still affiliated with M. So we can rule that out, I imagine.
Greg Davis is drawing up a zone read, so he can't be a candidate at least
Seth: How does Michigan screw this one up?
Either of those would be a swift kick to the searchbits; otherwise I'm optimistic about the search (both process and outcome). This may lead to me posting a bunch of Gob Bluth clips on Twitter, but I don't think Michigan screws this up.
[After the jump: more all too realistic scenarios in which Michigan decides we need more mediocrity and stupid.]
I don't really have much today. Sorry. Monday must be trash night. Wait a second…
/takes out trash
never not funny
ANYWAY. Yesterday was notable for two reasons: the Football Bust and a you-dead Harbaugh press conference. Harbaugh's response to the inevitable Qs about his job:
“I don’t talk about any other job other than the one that I have,” Harbaugh told reporters on Monday. “And I’ve answered this question many times, even recently, so you’d know exactly what my priorities are. I get this from the Marines, ‘Leaders eat last.’ My number one priority is winning football games. Second priority is the welfare of our players, our coaches, all our staff, for the welfare of our team. And lastly is my own personal professional future.”
If that quintessential non-denial-denial was not sufficient, poke a Michigan insider and he's calling BS on reports that Michigan is out. Webb:
…the growing NFL sentiment that Harbaugh will remain in the professional ranks is an overstatement in our view, it does speak to the belief held by some that have talked to him in recent weeks that he will be tougher to lure away from the pros than previously thought. The source to which Harbaugh reported his ongoing uncertainty about the future to put the odds of his return to Ann Arbor at 50/50.
See also 247, Rivals, etc. The divergence between the Michigan people and the NFL people is massive. It would probably be even larger if anyone knew exactly what happened with Brandon and Harbaugh in 2010. In retrospect, the popular story about how he was in the bag and then flaked sounds a lot like Dave Brandon making himself look good instead of objective reality. Brandon blew everything else and was a pathological liar. If his version of 2010 events is the reason people are hesitant, I might increment myself from hopeful to optimistic.
WE DON'T HAVE FLIGHT AWARE SO GIVE US THIS AT LEAST. We're gonna extrapolate from minimal information and nobody can stop us. Block the plane, fly commercial: whatever, man. We've got body language.
Watch the relevant part of Jim's latest press conference here, from 7:40 to 8:35. http://mgovideo.com/jim-harbaugh-monday-presser-12-8-14/
Now watch this youtube video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KiIP_KDQmXs
HE'S HIDING SOMETHING!!!1!
Seriously though, he tenses right up, starts using his hands/arms, sort of rambles, etc. You get a body language expert in here, and that's a Michigan coach at that podium.
Let's get a body language expert in here then.
SHORTLY AFTER, YOU SAY? Tyree Kinnel tells Scout's Dave Berk that a Michigan assistant contacted him and said that Michigan hopes to have a head coach in place($). "right after Christmas." Like, four days after maybe?
MILES? Webb also reiterated what Les Miles himself said a couple days ago: unlike everyone from Steve Addazio on up, he hasn't heard anything from Michigan. Lorenz thinks that's not a death knell for his prospects($) if Harbaugh doesn't happen; John U Bacon had a similar take in a post-Bust interview with the local Fox station that MGoUser michgoblue provided Cliffs Notes for on the board. I'm still skeptical, as you know.
AS FOR THE BUST. Not much of interest coaching-search wise, just Hackett saying he has been "blown away" by the level of interest in the job and Reggie McKenzie advocating Mike Trgovac.
Trgovac was an interesting candidate in 2007 while he was in the midst of a pretty successful run as the Panthers' DC, but he's been stuck as the Packers' DL coach since 2009. It is kind of surprising that we hear about Teryl Austin but not him; neither is likely to be plan B… or G.
PLAN B? OKAY. I've heard Bob Stoops may be available as familiarity with an .800 win rate breeds contempt at Oklahoma; Lorenz echoes that strongly($) in his latest, and you begin to wonder if there was something real behind that Stoops-should-leave moment we had a few weeks ago, as unlikely as that seems. Chris Petersen was never going to go anywhere until he did; Bob Stoops could be in a similar boat.
It still seems highly doubtful. It's just plausible enough to kick the tires and see what happens, which at least makes it a lot more sensible than Sean Payton.
Meanwhile: this is yet another spread coach. In Stoops's case it's an Air Raid so prolific that seemingly half the country has an offensive coordinator from the Stoops tree. Stoops famously installed Mike Leach in his first year as a head coach because he hated defending Kentucky's offense and wanted to hire it, and he's never waved. That shouldn't be a problem, but recent history of Michigan etc etc etc. The Air Raid is a better fit with Michigan's current QB corps, but if you want a pro-style guy this is not it. (If this does not make you reconsider your pro-style dogmatism, I cannot help you.)
COORDINATORS? I'd be fine with a coordinator if he came with the correct combination of impressive performance, recruiting output, and long-term upside—I've got a brief post later today on how frequent the promotion is even for big time programs. Sam's starting to poke around those guys as well, mentioning a few NFL guys($) even outside the obvious Teryl Austin. IRL troll Colin Cowherd brought up Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell, a former Wisconsin QB who's been an OC in the NFL for about a decade. If Michigan is going to make the dubious decision to grab an NFL coordinator, he is one of the guys who makes some sense.
I'm not too interested those gentlemen, but Sam also says that one of the 14-man list Hackett told the team he was evaluating is a current Big Ten coordinator($). That can only be one of two guys: Pat Narduzzi or Tom Herman.
Who's up for decades of Herman's Head jokes? Just me? Oh.
This site is highly intrigued by Herman, who Urban Meyer yoinked off an uninspiring three-year tenure as Iowa State's OC to his great profit. Since, he's coordinated consecutive top-ten offenses by any metric you care to name. The latter is an incredibly resilient year in which Herman lost four OL, his QB, and his top RB without batting an eye, then lost his second-string QB and still turned Wisconsin into a radioactive, glassy plain.
Herman is a Broyles finalist this year and was the 2013 Rivals Big Ten recruiter of the year—he's the total package.
Narduzzi is a bit less exciting because it's hard to tell exactly how much he is the MSU defense and how much is Dantonio. That's less of a concern for Herman because Dan Mullen went on to succeed at Mississippi State and Florida cratered under Steve Addazio; Meyer is also less insanely involved in the day-to-day after his UF freakout period.
There were also some signs that MSU's defense was beginning to get figured out this year. Oregon and Ohio State took advantage of MSU's aggressive cover-four safeties by blazing guys down the slot until the Spartans didn't know what to think; I'd prefer the guy who put up 49 this year on the MSU defense instead of the guy who ceded same.
Either would be preferable to a low-upside head coach, be he an older gentleman or a debatably good idea.
PLAN Z. File this under "agent": Washington coach Jay Gruden, who has done nothing in his coaching career of note other than be named Gruden, is getting fired soon. You will not be shocked what is being floated out there by his agent, then:
One source I trust tipped me off to a potential landing spot for Gruden: The University of Michigan. This source, who is intimately familiar with the Wolverines’ rapidly emerging coaching search, informed me on Thursday that initial contact has been made between the parties and that Gruden’s representation was enthusiastically open to the potential. I can’t put a figure on the likelihood of Gruden fleeing to Ann Arbor, and another UM source I trust refused to confirm anything I asked, but it’s an interesting leverage point nonetheless.
Never trust a sentence with "rapidly emerging" in front of words that need no adjectives. Gruden is 3-10 with Washington and most of his coaching career prior was spent in the Arena League; this snippet means that Gruden's agent called Michigan and was not quite laughed at. The only thing this means is that he's out the door in Washington; it has no relevance to Michigan's search.
Etc.: I agree.