DIRECTORY STALKING IS THE NEW REAL ESTATE STALKING (WHICH WAS THE NEW FLIGHT AWARE). A couple of gentlemen with names matching prospective assistant coaches and no marker to indicate they're students, alumni, or faculty have popped up in the UMich directory: Tim Drevno and DJ Durkin. John Morton is also being kicked around, but if you log in it shows he's not that John Morton. It would be a bit of coincidence if the first two gentlemen were not football coaches, though. Not gospel, Bayesian estimate move, etc.
Fred Jackson, meanwhile, is listed as a retiree, disappointing many who had hoped he would be retained as Michigan's Director Of Reasonable Comparisons. Oh, and Brian Cole and Alex Malzone are on the thing now.
Remember when bloggers were the only people scouring the directory? Now who's in the basement? I don't even have a basement.
GALLON DOCUMENTARY. A full half hour:
Returning starters: we got 'em. Phil Steele compiles returning starters in the Big Ten:
Michigan has a 17th coming back in Desmond Morgan as well. Find a QB and some guys who can rush the passer and you're in business.
OUT AND FRUSTRATED. John Chavis left LSU for a DC spot at Texas A&M, and the reason is the same reason it's tough to watch LSU play most of the time:
The sources said the contract negotiations, the Aggies offered $340,000 more annually, were a non-issue in his decision to leave LSU and that Chavis simply felt it was time to go.
Chavis' frustrations reached a crescendo this season when LSU finished first in the SEC in total defense, No. 8 in the nation and second in scoring defense. LSU was 11th in total offense and last in passing offense in the SEC, resulting in an 8-5 record, tied for the worst in coach Les Miles' 10 seasons.
In the past four seasons, Chavis' LSU defenses finished no worse than No. 15.
"(Chavis) threw his hands up and felt he'd done all he could do," one source said. "They made zero progress offensively and it became a sore point, not that he was pointing fingers, but it led to some uncomfortable feelings.
LSU has a lot of returning starters, but I would not be surprised if this was the beginning of the Les Miles death spiral. Better in Baton Rouge than here.
THE NEW OC. Nick Baumgardner tracks down old Tim Drevno charges and asks them about Michigan's new man:
"When you're going through a coach Drevno individual period, you're going to be tough, or you're going to be looking to transfer," says Ben Muth, a former offensive tackle at Stanford during the early part of the Harbaugh era. "You're going to bang heads and there aren't a lot of blocking dummies used. You're going up against other guys, guys who get the hell beat out of them early in their careers.
"It's live. It's intense. And you're going to hit people with him."
Even if Michigan hires a separate OL coach expect Drevno to be heavily involved. Stanford split its coaching between interior line and OT/TE… I would expect something similar.
CHAIT ON HARBAUGH. On his return:
From Harbaugh’s standpoint, if you think of college football as nothing more than a business, it is an act of professional irrationality. The only possible way to make sense of his choice is to consider the possibility that he actually believes what he said in 2004: that he believes he did not merely provide free labor in return for skill development but belonged to a community; that this community stands in his mind for something larger than the self-interest of its component parts; that all this talk about turning boys into men is not just hokum.
UH-OH. Dish announces a small package of channels they'll sell over the internet for twenty bucks. Two of those channels: ESPN and ESPN2. I've been complaining about the shortsightedness of adding Rutgers and Maryland for a lot of reasons, most of them much more important than the amount of money the league makes.
But since the amount of money the league makes is the only possible argument in favor of the expansion, I do take pains to point out that the era of stealing a dollar from New Jersey grannies who don't even know what Rutgers is was always an ephemeral one. Once the cable monopoly shatters in the face of the internet, the only people paying for your content are the people interested, and the fanbases of Maryland and Rutgers are not going to carry the freight. For a momentary bump in revenue the Big Ten galloped towards the nonsense that is a 14-team collegiate conference, but Jim Delany will be retired by then so he DGAF.
WE CAN ACCESS ABOUT ONE OF THESE GUYS. Texas may be in the market for a grad QB after Tyrone Swoopes fell flat this year. Barking Carnival runs down their options, many of whom are JUCOs Michigan isn't likely to acquire. They do mention Kevin Hogan as well:
While he hasn't yet announced formally for transfer, the Stanford graduate clashed withDavid Shaw over his conservative offense and had the unenviable task of replacingAndrew Luck - arguably the most gifted QB walking the planet. The rumor mill is running hard and fast that he wants out and would like a show case for his wares. While imperfect - and possessing a slow release that Shaun Watson could help him with - Hogan is a proven competitor with good athletic ability and a live arm. He has 48 touchdowns to 21 career interceptions, won a Rose Bowl, started 30+ games and has a career QB rating around 145. Yet people treat him as if he's chopped liver. He's not. He's also a sneaky running threat who isn't afraid of contact. He's an upgrade and wouldn't be particularly terrified taking a snap from under center in South Bend next year. He's roughly comparable to a sophomore David Ash, but with veteran experience. That's a significant upgrade from Swoopes. He could help us. Now forward him this post immediately and get the illegal contacts started.
FAREWELL. Lake The Posts is closing effective January 15th. Always sad when one of the originals hangs it up.
ETC.: If you were vaguely worried that Lavall Jordan would end up at Butler after their coach had to take medical leave, the Bulldogs have taken the interim title off of Chris Holtmann. Stephon Diggs heads to the draft. MVictors has entertaining Harbaugh/Yost trivia and old-timey player intros. Dylan Larkin had an awesome WJC.
THE VERB REPLACED IS "STEP," YOU DEGENERATES
Via MGoUser Red_Lee
A BRIEF FOLLOW-UP ON "IT'S DONE." Ace debunked it yesterday; let me add my voice to the chorus of No Way. I am sure Marcellus Wiley does have serious people telling him it's a done deal. I have that. Many other people have that. There are many people saying it. That does not mean it's true. Done means pen to paper, press conference scheduled. That does not describe Harbaugh's situation.
I would triple that skepticism in re: Paul Finebaum's report of same. It's not done.
This is why it's a coaching fiasco—no matter the outcome. It's a circus and will always be a circus.
FWIW. Alejandro Zuniga compiled the full text of Wiley's assertion:
BUT IT SOUNDS PRETTY GOOD YOU GUYS. I continue to get stuff too vague to Report but seemingly credible that indicates Michigan's AD is extremely confident this is getting done, with the current focus on handling buyout issues with San Francisco and an announcement by December 30th.
I fully believe many people in the AD and a big community of Harbaugh friends and acquaintances think it's all over but the shouting. I don't know if I believe they're 100%right, if you get my drift. Someone can always come in with a Godfather NFL offer. Going to be a long 8-10 days coming up.
SCHEFT SHIFT PART II. In the meantime I'd rather have randos coming out of the woodwork to say it's happening instead of it's not happening. It is also good when previously-adamant NFL guys are beginning to say it's possible. Ace mentioned Adam Schefter's apparent shift from "no way" in a lengthy Facebook post. First:
49ers HC Jim Harbaugh’s family and friends have been encouraging him to take the Michigan HC job, but he is torn because his heart is in the NFL, per sources close to the situation.
That's pretty good news, especially since I find the idea that Harbaugh's heart is in the NFL to be questionable at best. This is a guy who can't help quoting Bo about every press conference.
The rest of Schefter's post is a mixture of obvious bunk and interesting bits. Schefter asserts Michigan might not be able to wait, which is nuts. They are fully prepared to wait on Harbaugh until the 28th. They told their players they should expect a coach when they come back on January 4th. It is a a recruiting dead period (you can call but no face to face meetings) until then and if they have a good shot at Harbaugh—they do—they'd be insane to move on before he responds to an offer. Schefter also makes the bonkers assertion that "some have pointed out that recruiting would be a challenge," which may stand as the nuttiest thing said about this coaching search.
On the other hand, Schefter reports that:
- Harbaugh's agent "has a good sense of realistic NFL options already," though this directly contradicts an assertion earlier in the post.
- Harbaugh's wife is okay with a return to An Arbor.
So I don't know how seriously to take anything specific in there. The overall thrust is a guy going from utterly dismissive to serious, though, and that's a big move.
WHERE THE EXTREME SKEPTICISM MAY BE COMING FROM. NFL guys talk to agents, mostly. They've been adamant it isn't happening. Therefore: agent probably the reason NFL guys are so adamant. (That and NFL-level arrogance.) Agent likely has a vested interest in being adamant because he wasn't Harbaugh's agent when he was in college and might not be if he returns there. Dunn does not represent college coaches.
This isn't necessarily to say he's acting in bad faith, but he may be inclined to tilt towards something personally beneficial to him, and also to make NFL teams snap at the bait.
NO. Mike Florio reports that Harbaugh turned down a larger offer from Michigan than he got from the 49ers back in 2011—$5.2 million a year in fact. That is false. Negotiations with Harbaugh never got that far. That number was drawn up out of thin air by an agent: you can tell because the great and powerful NFL didn't pay him more than Michigan was offering when that's chump change to them.
A FOLLOWUP ON THE ROSS BIT. Yesterday I mentioned the Miami Herald reporting that the Dolphins were not suitors in the Harbaugh sweepstakes. I forgot to remind you that that's one of our main canaries here: if Ross gets involved with the Dolphins that's a sign the dream is dead. So far so good on that front.
PLAN B? Sam says that the ever-fluctuating Les Miles Realism Monitor is at low ebb($). IE: he doesn't seem like a realistic option. Up next would probably be swings at Stoops and Mora and then it's Mullen or a wild card with dubious qualifications.
MATTISON RETURNS? We've heard DJ Durkin's name as a possible DC before, and now Sam mentions Greg Mattison as a possible… linebackers coach($)?
It sounds nutty, but Michigan did sign Mattison to a contract that lasts through 2016 last March. For Michigan the cost of not keeping Mattison is whatever the buyout is plus whoever the new coach is—close enough to Mattison's current deal that you may as well keep him. Meanwhile Mattison was planning on retiring in Ann Arbor before Hoke got axed and if Michigan's amenable he may still want to follow through on that plan. At this point in his career, I doubt he gives a crap about job titles, and Michigan could name him associate head coach or whatever. Would be good for continuity, recruiting, and Swag Mattison memes.
A BRIEF NOTE ON TIES. A clarifying note on the lead bit from yesterday: it doesn't mean anything—it was just a friend of the Harbaughs sending him some ties as a wink-wink joke. Somehow the receipt got loose and several people sent it to me, which I thought was funny. I thought it was clear this was just a "look at us we're crazy people" joke; if that was not clear it should be now.
One thing it's not: a "complete fabrication($)." That's what Tom Beaver called it, which is rich from a guy who spent the duration of TomVH's career at this blog implying that Tom was stealing his scoops from Beaver. Probably thinks he's stealing from him at ESPN now. Anyway, I have multiple independent pictures of the receipt, which I won't post because it has personal information on it and this is fundamentally trivial. But just ask yourself: when's the last time Beaver had anything checkable?
Beaver should stick to mangling the English language beyond recognizability and let the people with sources who exist outside their own head handle things.
ETC.: Wheatley on coaching in the pros versus college. Harbaugh's probably worth the money. Niners Nation poll on Harbaugh's future has Michigan as most likely option… and contract extension with 49ers #2. May not be scientific. Jamie Morris says his gut tells him Michigan will get Harbaugh.
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.