if you seek an image of the most Wisconsin OL ever, enter here
|HC @ San Francisco||2011-14|
|HC @ Stanford||2007-10|
|HC @ San Diego||2004-06|
|QB @ Oakland||2002-03|
|GA(?) @ WKU||1994-01|
|QB at Michigan, 1983-86|
|QB, various NFL, 1987-2001|
Jim Harbaugh is a high-functioning lunatic. The other way to say this is "FOOTBALL COACH," all-caps mandatory. Raised by a high-functioning lunatic who exhorted his kids to attack each day with "an enthusiasm unknown to mankind," coached by a high-functioning lunatic who could repeat "the team" until it became a mantra to live by, brother to a high-functioning lunatic who beat him in a Super Bowl, Jim Harbaugh was born to do this job, in this place, at this time.
Jim Harbaugh repeatedly shoots ten-year-olds to win laser tag. He smears his players' blood on his face as war paint. He yells at ESPN camera crews to talk to his quarterback instead of him when his third-string pottery major orchestrates the biggest upset in the history of college football. He quotes Bo and his dad, who is also of Bo, probably without even realizing it anymore. He will not get yelled at when ordering at Blimpy, and he is the fifth-winningest NFL coach of all time. He resurrected Stanford from the dead and set them up for their longest sustained success ever. He can recite Bob Ufer calls from memory.
He is the head coach of the University of Michigan. Finally.
Harbaugh's coaching career actually started while he was still an NFL player. Not content with merely being a quarterback, Harbaugh started helping out with father Jack's Western Kentucky program. Harbaugh was a freelance recruiter:
The plan was simple: Jim owned a home in Orlando, the heart of one of the most talent-rich recruiting areas in the country. So he became an NCAA-certified volunteer assistant coach for WKU, which allowed him to recruit. John, meanwhile, leaned on the scouting services, deep contacts and endless high school game footage they had at Cincinnati, which as a Division I-A school had a far larger budget than Division I-AA Western Kentucky.
…That's how Willie Taggart came home one day from track practice at Bradenton (Fla.) Manatee High School and got a message from his sister.
"She told me a guy by the name of Jim Harbaugh called," Taggart said. "I was like, 'What?' "
Harbaugh recruited 17 kids on WKU's 2002 I-AA national championship team, after which both Jim and Jack retired—Jack from coaching, Jim from the NFL. The next year Harbaugh was the Raiders' QB coach, and two years after that he left, crazily, for San Diego, a non-scholarship I-AA school.
In San Diego he inherited at 8-2 outfit, but one that had bounced around .500 for the previous four years. Harbaugh went 7-4 in year one and then took the Toreros to back to back conference championships—their first ever. He was 11-1 in both of those years, and finished 2005 as the #1 team in the mid-major (ie: non-scholarship) I-AA poll. That's a sort of national title.
After Harbaugh's third year at San Diego, a plainly desperate Stanford took a flier on him. After the departure of Ty Willingham to Notre Dame, Stanford hired Buddy Teevens. Teevens lasted only three years, winning all of five conference games and never finishing better than 4-7. Pitt head coach Walt Harris was brought in, had a decent first season, and then cratered. Stanford was one of the worst teams in D-I in Harris's second season, going 1-11. Harris lost to San Jose State and suffered humiliating blowouts against most of the schedule: 48-10 against Oregon, 37-9 against Navy, 38-3 against Arizona State, etc etc etc. Stanford was 110th in the 2006 S&P ratings (FEI only goes back to '07), barely ahead of Eastern Michigan.
[Italics == not coached by Harbaugh]
Harbaugh instantly took Stanford from one of the worst teams in the country to competitive, and then depending on which metric you're looking at either had an unlucky and high quality 2009 or made an enormous leap in 2010.
Stanford is an interesting case in the context of these rating systems: S&P is a play-based metric that prizes explosiveness. FEI uses drives and doesn't care if you take 1 or 15 plays to get to the endzone. Harbaugh Stanford was manball to end all manball, and unsurprisingly FEI is generally more enthused than S&P. Harbaugh defied statistical convention—S&P has very good reasons to prize explosiveness—to create one of the ass-kickingest teams in all of college football. In a world where the spread has come to dominate, Harbaugh is a proven outlier.
Harbaugh also built a program. When I do these I generally like to see declines when the coach in question is a coordinator. That shows the guy was able to do more with basically the same talent. But when he's in charge of the whole shebang sustained quality after departure is a good sign, especially when the program you left decides their best course of action is to hire internally to keep a good thing going. When Brady Hoke left Ball State after their breakout year, the Cardinals went with an entirely new staff and immediately collapsed back to the pack. When Harbaugh left Stanford, they hired his offensive coordinator, attempted to preserve everything he'd brought the program, and ripped off three consecutive 11-win seasons.
By the time Harbaugh had built Stanford into Football Ron Swanson, he was the hottest coaching prospect anywhere, college or pro. In 2011 he accepted the 49ers job, taking over a franchise that hadn't been to the playoffs since 2002 and was coming off a 6-10 year.
Harbaugh instantly made them excellent.
|Team||Year||Record||DVOA – overall||DVOA – D||DVOA – O|
In year one the Niners went from a –41 point differential to +151, went 13-3, and lost in the NFC championship game. The next year he made the Super Bowl, losing a three-point game to his brother. In 2013 the Niners were one infamous Richard Sherman play away from returning to the Super Bowl. It was only this year, long after the Niners management had undermined Harbaugh's tenure, that the 49ers slipped to average. Even then they went 8-8 despite facing an avalanche of injuries. The main reason they weren't in the playoff hunt was the NFC South losing every game outside of its division.
Even with the slip to .500 in year four, it would take a truly moronic owner to cast Jim Harbaugh aside. Jed York is that man. And now Michigan has theirs.
[After THE JUMP: Xs and Os, recruiting, HARBAUGH.]
I made a hype video.
How did Michigan get a top five NFL coach to come back to college? There's actually one word for it: passion.
The school is so passionate about football that it was willing to give Harbaugh whatever tools and control he asked for. The big money donors are so passionate that they offered to finance NFL-/Saban-like money for Harbaugh and a top-echelon staff. The fans are so passionate that they flooded onto every message board and commented on every medium every time some writer or TV person seemed likely to breath so much as "Har…" Jim's friends and former teammates are so passionate that they reportedly formed a train of callers and kept up an unrelenting press since November. And finally Jim is so passionate about his school that he gave up/set aside his (apparently real) NFL aspirations to come back to the farm.
College doesn't have the NFL's money, nor its cachet, nor is it the pinnacle of the sport. But the thing about college football is we care way more. That's why it happened.
SITE NOTE: we're caching the front page hardcore. Logins don't work on it, but will work on other pages.
It has happened. Jim Harbaugh will be Michigan's head coach starting Tuesday. The race to tell you water is wet is on in earnest, but with even ESPN grudgingly admitting it, it's 100%. These four gentlemen were the first:
I just got off the phone with more sources tonight. It's done. Jim Harbaugh is coming to Michigan - and his friends are flying in Monday.
— John U. Bacon (@Johnubacon) December 28, 2014
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 28, 2014
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) December 28, 2014
Summation per multiple sources (including one within 49ers organization) - Michigan Expecting to Name Harbaugh Coach http://t.co/3dRTBHfYiu
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) December 28, 2014
John Clayton is saying it's "100%" with Harbaugh pinging NFL assistants about their desire to come with him; there is an army of comically out of touch NFL people saying the Raiders aren't dead yet without even considering what the 49ers would prefer—not the Raiders.
HOLDING STEADY. I haven't gotten anything that would change my stance her\e since yesterday. That, of course, is this:
I did get a terrifyingly titled email ("John Harbaugh –> Jim To Oakland = $5 million") that turned out to be a third hand report that if Jim wanted to go to the Raiders the 49ers were planning on extracting the full freight of his contract from him. I have lectured this person on titling emails.
Other than that it's just more of the same. I can't quite say it's a done deal but I would be shocked if this did not happen.
THEY'RE OUT THERE. Feldman reports that Michigan officials are going to be in San Francisco today and tomorrow.
#Michigan brass & search firm will be up in the Bay Area this weekend as part of the Jim Harbaugh pursuit, per source.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 27, 2014
I've heard this is not so much a negotiation as just picking him up. Terms are settled.
ANOTHER MOVE. In the last couple days, even Rivals—the most cautious of the three paysites—has moved off their 50/50 and declared things to be 85% likely, and then said they'd call it if it was election day, and then that "this is happening" which HEY BUDDY THAT'S OUR PHRASE TO FLOG INTO THE GROUND. Balas now says it would be "beyond surreal"—squared!—if it did not happen.
In any case: the most conservative set of Michigan insiders has the lampshade on its head and is trying to drink shots through it.
ANOTHER REPORT? It's unclear whether this report from Harbaugh's (currently) local ABC station is independent or not. It uses SOURCES in its title (#sources) but the text is may only be referencing Joe Pequeno, the Arizona sportscaster who is this search's most random insider. This may be actual SOURCES, though:
Friday night, the unconfirmed reports began surfacing that Harbaugh will meet with representatives from the University of Michigan and one source says that a deal is already done.
The phrasing there makes it hard to tell if they're actually talking to people or just taking other stuff and not mentioning or linking it because BLOGS. Take it FWIW. Local news is not often the kind of place that breaks these things, but if San Francisco-based folks are hearing the same things Michigan-oriented ones are that's another quality sign.
Source says verbal agreement in place for Jim Harbaugh to become new Michigan coach. No contracts signed, but UM feels real confident.
— Joe Pequeno (@JoePequenoCBS5) December 27, 2014
That was just a few minutes ago and did not spur the ABC report.
THEY DON'T WANT TO GO ON THE CART. Rapoport raporeports that the Raiders are going to try.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 27, 2014
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 27, 2014
(Rapoport knows the Raiders are always in the Bay Area. Also, check the extensive reply lists on those tweets for a quick compare/contrast with the La Canforas and Kawakamis of the world. Rapoport doesn't seem to have the best sources here but at least he's a professional.)
I don't think that's going to change much of anything. While the Raiders have been restricted by NFL tampering rules it's not like Harbaugh doesn't know they're interested and prepared to hand him full control. I don't buy the random tweet claiming a Sirius XM report that the 49ers have given the Raiders permission to contact Harbaugh, since it hasn't been replicated anywhere credible. Radio is always the worst for breaking news. Half of it is bunk and the other half is misheard. In this case, that would be tampering.
If Michigan wasn't already operating like their guy was in the bag I'd be more concerned, but with the entire department and folks like DJ Durkin acting like it's a fait accompli this looks like the Raiders trying to save face with their fanbase. Or just doing the usual Raiders stuff and having no idea what the score is.
STAFF STUFF. I'm pretty confident that Greg Mattison is indeed going to be part of the new staff. I've got multiple reports that he's planning on staying in town and would like to continue, and Mattison has a long history with various Harbaughs. DJ Durkin seems all but assured as well given what we've heard about him, but I don't have anything that's been shared with me privately to add to the obvious. Scout has a freebie with some pretty strong indications that Durkin's on his way:
Word from a rival SEC assistant is that scenario [Durkin to M] is much more than rumor.
“He is waiting for Harbaugh to call him within the next 24 hours to make him the defensive coordinator at Michigan,” the assistant said.
I'd also bet a dollar that Ty Wheatley joins the staff as a RB coach with something like "run game coordinator" or "co-OC" tacked on and a salary bump from generic assistant coach.
[NOTE: Last time I bet a dollar in searchbits (on Mullen being plan B) a number of people thought this was a coy way to say "this is a lock"—it's not. It just means I bet a dollar. I have reason to think that thing is happening but would not bet, say, the MGoWife on it.]
Past that I don't have any names that I think are particularly likely. Mattison sticking might be bad news for Roy Manning, who is a LB coach by trade. Mattison and Durkin are both capable of handling LBs, and Mattison fills the ace recruiter and holdover the guys trust roles. I still think Manning's got a shot since every staff needs a guy on it who knows what this means…
— Ty Isaac (@TyIsaac) December 26, 2014
…but I haven't heard much about him sticking.
247 brings up an interesting name($): Vince Marrow, currently the tight ends coach at Kentucky. Marrow's had a deeply weird career, with a few years as a fringe NFL player followed by short stints in NFL Europe as a player and coach, a year in the Arena league, a year as Toledo's TE coach, a singe year as a HS head coach, a TE coach job with the Omaha Nighthawks(?!), two years as a GA at Nebraska, and finally his three years at Kentucky under Mark Stoops as the TE coach/recruiting coordinator.
Why is a guy like this on the radar? Kentucky's Ohio recruiting. Kentucky has been killing it in the state under Marrow, beating out Big Ten teams not named Michigan or Ohio State for prospect after prospect. With Harbaugh likely to be the QB coach Michigan has a spot to play with for a guy like Marrow.
Rivals just brought up Stanford DC Lance Anderson as a likely staff member, but getting both Durkin and Anderson seems extremely far-fetched. Anderson's unit kept Stanford afloat this year, so he's not getting a demotion. Durkin seems all but certain, so is he really coming for a co-DC slot? Is Durkin? Are we not even handing Mattison title frippery appropriate to his station? There are obviously a number of connections between Anderson and Harbaugh, but unless Durkin's waiting on a DC spot that's not guaranteed to be his—highly unlikely—that fails common sense checks.
WHY. The NFL doesn't understand this.
Last thing: The fan fervor for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan cannot be duplicated by the NFL or many actual religions. This I can attest to.
— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) December 27, 2014
That's why it's happening.
ETC.: Utah's coaching staff has been raided over the past week or so and now a local radio guy says it's "highly unlikely" Whittingham returns. Weird stuff, though radio disclaimer applies.
Colin Cowherd tweets out Seth's Harbaugh photoshop, hopefully teaching Seth to watermark things in the future. Iman Marshall interested? Stability a good thing, and a thing the Raiders aren't into offering.
Harbaugh on Brisco County Jr., because we all need to be reminded of these things.
It's the holidays. Friends and family are in town. They know that you pay heavy attention to this kind of stuff, and expect that you'll have some bit of information, some bit of inside dope, some general sense of the way things are going.
You are sick of answering these people. Let your shirt do the talking.
Of course if there's a crowd of people hugging you and jumping for joy you still may need to vocalize it. Or maybe they'll figure it out.
80% might be low
IT IS HAPPENING. Okay. I don't have a picture of a signed contract, or word from Harbaugh himself that it's happening.
But it's happening. I have not put a number on Harbaugh to Michigan yet, preferring words since it's impossible to put a number on something like this. I'll do this now: 99%.
I have gotten so much independent stuff from so many different sources; 247 and Scout and Bacon are all on board, with Rivals only lagging seemingly because they buy the 2011 story that Harbaugh backed out "at the last minute," something that just can't be true given the timelines. I would be utterly shocked if Jim Harbaugh was not announced as Michigan's coach by December 30th.
It's all over but the pointless rush to be the first to report that water is wet.
HAPPENING BITS.I've heard word that there's a large event on Tuesday night that the catering staff has been asked to keep secret—something that they've never been asked about before.
A son of a current coach is telling co-workers that it's happening and his dad is being retained.
1201 South State Street is getting mail addressed like this from NFL compounds:
I checked the tracking number; it's legit.
If I had to guess I'd bet that's a young-go-getter overnighting his resume and interest. Blind hope? Maybe. Probably not.
More numbers: Webb increments to 80, pending today's 85. Lorenz says it's "when, not if" and puts it at 85%. Pequeno doesn't have a number but does say Michigan boots are on the ground in San Francisco.
THE DURKIN PROPHECY. Harbaugh to Michigan is now unofficially official enough that a coaching staff seems to be in the process of being assembled in earnest. Further confirmation of DJ Durkin's presence on the new staff comes from the message board:
So, I am from Youngstown, OH. This morning, I went to my gym for a little early morning workout, and another member of my gym is the father of Chris Durkin … they are close cousins with D.J. Durkin. … he said he would starting rooting for Michigan football next season (after giving me shit for wearing Michigan shirts in the past). I asked why, and he said he has a cousin who would be coaching there next season, and when I asked if it was D.J. Durkin, he said it was.
Conversation stopped there, but basically we can infer from this that Harbaugh is coming, and D.J. Durkin knows it and will be joining him.
That's a user with only 214 points but he is a guy who signed up over a year ago, FWIW. If it wasn't obvious already since Durkin didn't take the A&M job that could have been his a week ago, it should be now.
ANOTHER NFL PERSON SAYS MICHIGAN IS A TINY FAVORITE. SI's Don Banks runs down the NFL coaching carousel, touching on Harbaugh during the Oakland section:
Most league sources I talked to believe it’s down to either Oakland or Michigan for Harbaugh, and while his preference is to stay in the NFL, the lure of Ann Arbor and being able to resurrect the struggling program at his alma mater might be too tempting an opportunity to say no to. If there’s a possession arrow at the moment, indications are it has begun to slightly point in the direction of the Wolverines. …
Or as one source told me: “He can go there and be God, and never get fired. That’s a home he can live in and stay at. It’ll be like [Nick] Saban in Alabama. He’ll do whatever he wants there. I’d call that the logical place for him.’’
The Raiders will try, but they're still the Raiders—perpetually moribund and possibly on the move.
Banks later dismisses Harbaugh as an option in Chicago, saying if he's leaving the West Coast it's for Michigan. That seems like a flimsy assumption to me, but local reporters continually say that Harbaugh's too pricey for the penny-pinching Bears owners. There's been little indication that Chicago will step in.
WHY IS THIS XXIX? Searchbits XXVIII was this for anyone who just had to check to see if anything was happening on Christmas.
New MGoPost: SEARCHBITS XXVIII: DON'T READ THIS, IT'S CHRISTMAS http://t.co/bqRjIOs0ZA
— mgoblog (@mgoblog) December 25, 2014
I regret nothing, even the old meme. That's what you get for obsessively checking this webs…
…actually this may have been a bad idea.
I'M NOT SURE YOU CAN SPEAK FOR EVERBODY. John Harbaugh denies the Schefter report that Jim's family is encouraging him to take the Michigan job:
"The report that says that his family is encouraging him to go to Michigan by Adam Schefter is absolutely incorrect," John Harbaugh said. "There's been no family that I know of that has given him any advice at all. That's a personal decision, that's his to make. And that's just absolutely false."
I think that's not entirely true; even if it is, Schefter's report seemed to be addressing the wife-won't-leave meme, not John and Jack. And as I mentioned before I'm confident that Jack has been a major part of the Harbaugh acquisition process. It's Jim's decision of course, it's just that your mom and I have always dreamed… etc etc etc.
HARBECHLER HALL!!!!! pic.twitter.com/4cvLTUMz2q
— LostLettermen.com (@LostLettermen) December 24, 2014
All right, there's enough stuff. We're all degenerates.
THE CONFERENCE CALL. It happened, it was coy and positive. Not much of substance was related except an expectation that the next call might be unnecessary. There was a brief flutter of positive tweets from players, most of which were vague and quickly deleted. It was made clear that things are not signed($); the overall feeling from the meeting was highly positive.
Durkin is holding off on his plans
THIS IS KIND OF A BIG DEAL. Texas A&M has been trying to name a new defensive coordinator for a couple weeks now, and DJ Durkin is a—the—prime contender. He's not going to stay at Florida after McElwain poached the Mississippi State YOU'RE A BALLER guy, so why isn't he going for a good job in the SEC?
Texas A&M’s slow movement toward hiring a defensive coordinator appears to be tied to Jim Harbaugh.
One of the Aggies’ candidates, Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin, is waiting to see whether Harbaugh takes the open Michigan head coaching job, according to a source close to the situation. If Harbaugh, currently at odds with the San Francisco 49ers, were to go back to coach his alma mater, Durkin could get reunited with his former Stanford boss.
If Durkin is willing to stall on a job as good as A&M DC, that "could" is almost certainly a "would." And Harbaugh's arrival at Michigan seems highly probable as well. Nobody's going to keep a job like that waiting based on a vague hope.
Interestingly, Greg Mattison was also a part of these rumors. Sometimes he's mentioned as a possible "co-DC"; sometimes his potential role is unlisted. With current speculation leaning towards a Mattison/Durkin partnership at Michigan, that also signals a shift. Mattison reportedly cleared out his office with authority when Hoke was axed.
NUSSMEIER OUT. Doug Nussmeier takes the Florida OC job as the first half of a potential coordinator trade. There had been a little chatter that Michigan might keep him on that's obviously done now.
HACKETT'S APPROACH. Heard from someone close to the search that Hackett's first approach to Harbaugh was to ask him what were the five things that he needed if he was going to come back to Michigan. These included top-five college money and disciplinary autonomy. A lot of it seemed like reassurances he wasn't going to have a Baalke or Brandon in his life.
Hackett is very tight-lipped. Even folks on the regent level aren't getting every detail; Hackett prefers to keep people informed on a high level but keep details private so that things don't get screwed up. He's been impressive to everyone I've heard who has come in contact with him.
THE JETS ARE NOT IMPRESSED. Okay, Jets owner, that's cool.
Told today the Jets are unlikely landing spot for Jim Harbaugh. They interviewed him when they hired Rex. Woody wasn't impressed.
— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) December 23, 2014
With the Dolphins out and the Jets apparently not enthralled, NFL options appear to come down to the cheapskate Bears and basket-case Raiders, with the potential addition of the Falcons if they don't make the playoffs.
I THINK WE HAVE FORGOTTEN SOMETHING ABOUT THE RAIDERS. Hey, look, Football Scoop is bringing up something a lot of people seem to have forgotten when talk turns to Harbaugh with the Oakland Raiders:
If he were to leave for another NFL job, however, the 49ers would supposedly ask for "a king's ransom" in exchange for releasing him, as the potential for embarrassment is much higher if Harbaugh remains in the NFL, especially if it's with the Oakland Raiders.
Harbaugh is under contract. York and Baalke would be reviled in the Bay Area if Harbaugh went to the disaster zone that is the Raiders and turned them around, especially if the 49ers struggled. (They're already moving towards reviled if the comment sections of 49ers articles are any indication.) It is unlikely they are going to let that happen unless the Raiders pay an exorbitant fee in draft picks, which makes the Raiders job even sketchier.
Congratulations to FS for finally saying something reasonable about this search. It was something I mentioned on December second(!) in the same post bombing their ridiculous "Harbaugh is not a candidate and Michigan is struggling" post, but better three weeks late and after a pile of complete bollocks than never at all.
ROONEY RULIN'. Another thing that makes Michigan a good bet as a landing spot: if the 49ers do cut ties with Harbaugh within 48 hours of the season's end that heavily implies Michigan: NFL teams have to comply with the Rooney Rule, which might be tough when hypothetical black candidates feel they're wasting their time. They would have to figure out a trade and a contract. Michigan has a big head start, and can act quicker.
ACT LIKE A CLOWN, GET TREATED LIKE A CLOWN PART II. Greg Gabriel, the fringe NFL writer who called Michigan's search "embarrassing" on December 12th and followed that up with gems such as "just laughing at you" and "if you want to dream go to Disneyland" amongst a number of other tweets he's deleted, has thrown a hissy on the National Football Post.
My fondness for the school ended this week through no fault of the University, but rather their asinine fans.
Two weeks ago I tweeted that in all likelihood, Jim Harbaugh would not become the next head coach at Michigan. Two weeks ago that was a very true statement, as Harbaugh wanted to coach nowhere but in the NFL. That was reported in various places by some very credible people. Harbaugh was done with the college game and wanted to coach only in the professional ranks.
Soon after my tweet, I started receiving several threatening, vulgar and obscene tweets from Michigan fans. In simple words, they said I didn’t know what I was talking about and that my sources were worthless.
The few replies he got to his tweet include an assertion he's a senile idiot… and that's it. Behold the asinine Michigan fanbase.
— Matt (@UMich38) December 12, 2014
I get worse than that from random LSU fans without even talking about LSU. And of course Gabriel didn't know what he was talking about and his sources were useless. Meanwhile he approached the inherently unknowable fiasco that is a coaching search with a supremely unwarranted arrogance.
That's been par for the course for a bunch of supposed NFL insiders who have been cocky and wrong—bad combination—while the Michigan side of things has consistently said things like "Michigan is in this," not "Michigan is a lock" (until recently, as Harbaugh moves close enough to being a lock that even previously dismissive NFL people are admitting that it's probably happening).
There are ways to communicate your point of view without bringing the wrath of the internet down on you. Step one is not being an asshat, something Adam Schefter and Ian Rapoport understand. Kawakami and this guy not so much.
MEANWHILE. Gabriel's sources remain useless. He asserts that the thing that makes Michigan an option is the money that's easily matched by NFL teams flush with cash and asserts that Harbaugh will be fired by the 49ers. More "heart in the NFL" stuff from people who promised up and down that Michigan was never happening.
PLAN B. I don't think we'll need one. Continue hearing that Dan Mullen is a strong possibility if things go pear-shaped. He may not be the #2 option outright, but he or Miles is the #1 guy they know would take the job. Depending on who you talk to, Miles is the #2 option or way down the board. I think it's the latter but can't be sure.
NO SEARCHBITS TOMORROW, YOU DEGENERATES. Probably.
Michigan won this game, I believe (source)
Your Weekly B1G Hoops Column
*[I failed to post the draft correctly yesterday and I wasn’t able to correct it while traveling. My apologies. None of this data should be dated much. Nebraska has not yet played Hawaii at the time of my submission early Tuesday morning EST – Alex]
Table of Contents:
Team’s don’t change much during conference play
Hopeful precedent? (Battle!)
Hoops (and not NBA hoops) over Christmas
Talkin’ bout the Shockers
Key B1G wins in the past week
Saturday was a bad day
A SPECIAL SHOUT-OUT TO MICHIGAN STATE
Best and worst losses thus far
Poll: which team is second-best in the B1G?
1. Teams don’t change much during conference play
In data provided to me by From the Barn’s Jonathan Foster, there’s generally insignificant differences between the Kenpom rank of a team after non-conference play and that same team’s rank at the end of the season. The data only covers the last four seasons, but a team is twice as likely to have a change from –19 < [rank] < +10 than it is to worsen by more than nineteen or improve by more than ten, rank-wise:
This bodes poorly for Michigan and similarly floundering teams – Pomeroy’s rankings attempt to assess the objective quality of a team (not its potential, nor how good its resume is) and, according to this data, right now, that metric – his “pythag” rating – is usually within range of how good a team winds up being over the course of the season. As the scatterplots below show, the highest change in ranking comes from very bad teams:
Click image to enlarge
Sample size caveats apply, but I’d hazard a guess that this group of teams is generally representative of an intuitive hypothesis: teams don’t became far better or far worse (statistically speaking) after December. Or perhaps better stated: teams don’t (or can’t) prove that they’re far better or far worse after December.
2. Hopeful precedent? (Battle!)
Foster gave me the conference-wide data from 2011-2014; in that time, only Penn State (2011) managed to accomplish something Michigan will find itself hoping to do – rise from roughly the 75th-best team in Kenpom to eventually make the NCAA Tournament.
That Penn State team’s non-conference season was quite similar to Michigan’s past few weeks. The Nittany Lions lost two home games – one to a mediocre Maryland outfit by 23 points, one to a dreadfully bad Maine team that finished ranked 209th in Kenpom. Additionally, Penn State lost road contests to Ole Miss and Virginia Tech, neither of which were particularly good squads. Their best win in non-conference play was a narrow home win over #60 Duquesne; they rode a 9-9 conference record, two wins over a great Wisconsin team, and three wins in the Big Ten Tournament to a bid as a ten-seed. The Big Ten was the best conference in the country that year.
Mid-season ranking data only goes back to 2011 on Pomeroy’s site. I checked from 2005-2010 and there were only a few potentially analogous situations: in 2007, Purdue lost two tough non-conference games and dropped a bad one (to #150 Indiana State on the road) and lost to #170 Minnesota to open Big Ten play – they recovered to be a nine-seed; in 2005, Minnesota lost to two top-20 outfits and lost at home to #97 Florida State in the span of less than a week – they finished non-conference play at 10-3 and were an eight-seed.
Penn State 2011 might be the best blueprint for Michigan to follow. It was Talor Battle’s senior year* and Jeff Brooks, Andrew Jones, and sophomore Tim Frazier formed a potent (by PSU standards) nucleus: they had a terrible non-conference season but were consistent enough in Big Ten play – winning the games they absolutely had to win – notched a few notable wins, both against Wisconsin, and did quite well in the Big Ten Tournament to sneak into the NCAA Tourney.
Since the conference is weaker now, I’d say Michigan might need 10 or 11 wins (and a Big Ten Tournament win), depending on who they win or lose to, to be right on the edge of the bubble. Right now, Pomeroy projects just 8 conference wins. Blerg.
In any case, improving to the point where the bubble is a legitimate discussion is objectively unlikely.
*Talor Battle was one of my favorite non-Michigan Big Ten players in recent memory. He was like a prelude to Trey Burke: undersized do-it-all point guard whose high usage was excused by a stellar assist rate. Trey was obviously better, but it was certainly something to watch Battle drag his teammates along and elevate their play in front of a seemingly indifferent PSU fanbase. Something impressive and tragic in that. Anyways, I digress.
[AFTER THE JUMP: … But Beilein? and other non-Michigan stuff, of course]
This seems in poor taste. I mean, the Cowboys? [Dustin Johnston/UMHoops]
TICK TOCK. Sam goes to 70% and says he'd be at 99% if San Francisco's season ended today. Joe Pequeno says it's Harbaugh barring one of them last minute change of heart things. Bacon says 85%, also citing last minute change of heart. Bacon also says that Michigan made a pass at Harbaugh last time, "but a weak one."
Heck, even Adam Schefter continued inching towards "it's happening," twice saying that "the pendulum has swung to Michigan" on ESPN's mid-day NFL shows on ESPN2.
WHY? Webb reports that Hackett was "in the Pacific Time Zone($)" yesterday, with the possibility of major movement today. Those Who Stay reported movement on the agent side of things, with Harbaugh/Dunn meeting at which things are just about hammered out but not quite signed. Clearly something happened yesterday to create another wave of IT'S HAPPENING, and that's a plausible reason.
DONE DEAL? I don't think it's quite that, but I think it's just about pen-to-paper time. Reports filtering down from the big baller donors certainly think it is done—we had one on the site yesterday that we had to scrub because the poster made an unwise decision to spill, and the inbox has a couple more. This is very much a situation in which the game of telephone would turn "it's about to be done" into "it's done," though.
WHEN? Still hearing that things won't be official until the 49ers are done. Michigan appears to be assembling a press conference on or around the 30th. That certainly implies they think it's done.
A CATCH? Did get a report that at least some people in the 49ers organization think the pendulum is swinging back to the NFL; hard to square that with everything else I've heard. FWIW; that would be a potential reason the NFL insider types are so dismissive.
WELL, THAT'S ALL OUT IN THE OPEN THEN. 49ers GM Trent Baalke was on the radio yesterday, and when asked about Harbaugh he confirmed that Michigan had reached out to the 49ers directly:
"I don't know that it's been offered to him. I don't know that it's been offered at all," Baalke said on his weekly segment on 95.7 The Game. "I haven't seen a report that the contract has been handed to him and he's mulling it over." …
Fox Sports reported Sunday that Michigan relayed its interest to the 49ers, and he reportedly told them he was undecided on his future.
"I think the University of Michigan, in reaching out, did handle it correctly," Baalke said. "As I look at it, guys, it's very simple: He's the head football coach of the San Francisco 49ers."
So that helps confirm the chatter that Michigan was trying to work out the details with the 49ers because they were so confident they'd locked down Harbaugh their attention was turning to details like extracting him from his contract. Somewhat odd that Baalke says he hasn't "seen a report" that he's been considering a contract when he is capable of walking into Harbaugh's office and asking, but maybe the two guys don't talk much anymore.
MAYBE IT'S ALL IN RUBLES. Sam says he's got an unconfirmed number($) for the assistant pool that is just about about on par with LSU and amongst the tops in the country. I am hearing some rumblings that Sam's weird suggestion (Mattison might stay on as a LB or DL coach with additional title frippery to be determined) is on point, which would explain some of that pool.
HOW NOT TO BACKTRACK. Adam Schefter has been walking his no-way stance back gradually, and that's fine. I think he got some bad information early, but he's reporting what he hears and moving away from Protect The Shield more than most other people in his profession.
On the other hand, you could pretend that you're defending Schefter when you opened your coverage of this coaching search with "Harbaugh turned Michigan down" and tripled-down on that assertion when it became clear it wasn't anywhere near true. If you guessed Scott Roussel was that guy, you get a cookie:
Guys complaining to me on twitter “Scheffer has changed his story on Harbaugh a lot”. Truth is facts change. We just report them
— FootballScoop Staff (@FootballScoop) December 23, 2014
HOW TO CORPO-TWITTER. Well done, whoever:
— Michigan Football (@umichfootball) December 23, 2014
#BUTTHOLE. Former Jack Harbaugh QB and Jim staff member Willie Taggart on the man:
"A lot of people think he's a butthole," Taggart says, matter-of-factly. "But he's not. Some people want things the easy way, sometimes people want others to bow down and just give in and do things the easy way. It's never like that with Jim.
"He's going to give it to you how he sees it. It's not to demean anyone, but it's how he sees it. He always does what he thinks is right. And, nine times out of 10, he is."
If Taggart doesn't make it at USF (he's gone 2-10 and 4-8 in his first two seasons) I wouldn't be surprised to see him join a hypothetical Michigan staff in the event of an opening.
CHRISTMAS SCHEDULE. Normally we take a week off around this time of year, but with Michigan's coaching search still ongoing I'll be around more. I'm going to get in a car right now and be in it for most of the rest of the day. I don't plan on posting anything the 24th or 25th unless it is literally happening. If there is enough stuff there may be a searchbits or two on the 26th and/or 27th.
The 28th is when things will start rolling in earnest as the 49ers finish up their season.
ETC.: Narduzzi the favorite at Pitt. John Harbaugh says some boilerplate stuff about his brother. Harbaugh with photoshopped bread? Okay. Wetzel on why getting rid of Harbaugh is a bad idea. Brian Dohn on possible contractual trip-ups.
I write this column every year: a plea for humans of the college football world to use clear language instead of the names they have for bowl games. Truthfully, a brand name for a bowl game communicates something, but think how much more accurately we could communicate if things like geographical location, history, traditions, and common, relatable experiences were more important than who pays the most.
I realize not everybody enjoys the ability to elegantly express ideas to other humans as much as I do, and that mercantile interests can be human interests as well. But since I started using language in my communication, I've experienced a 1000% improvement in comprehension, and I wanted to share that success story with you. Don't believe me? Here are some other humans who've benefited from this same extraordinary device:
: "Hello, I'm Steve, a relatable middle aged white man with the body, hairline, and lifestyle that other middle aged white men envy. My wife Janet and I are proud Bowling Green graduates and big fans of the Falcons. I wanted to get Janet a trip to BGSU's bowl game for Christmas, but when I triumphantly announced "We're going to the Raycom Media Camellia Bowl!" she was very confused. Then I discovered Talking Like a Human Being™, which taught me to tell Janet it's the "Camellia Bowl in Montgomery." Janet was thrilled, because the name communicated to her that we were going to a bowl game in Montgomery, and the flower association made it memorable!"
: "I'm Lewis, a non-threatening yet sexy young African-American businessman with perfect skin. My in-laws are coming to visit our tasteful suburban Atlanta home over Christmas, but they asked me to drive them to the airport the afternoon of December 31st. When I tried to explain that we would have to leave very early because of "Chick-fil-A Bowl" traffic, they thought I meant the South is just that insane over a fast food restaurant. But when I called it the "Peach Bowl," suddenly they could recognize the name of a big traditional football game that they've heard about since the late 1960s, and even offered to order a taxi so that I could stay home and watch it! Thanks, Talking Like a Human Being™!"
: "I'm Krista, a cute and friendly Minnesota undergrad. Men find me very attractive in an approachable way, and women want to be my friend because they wish they looked this good while rocking a knit scarf, high wool socks, and "" stickers on my cheeks. I was so totally stoked by my Gophers' great season, but when I told my girls we were going to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl they were like "that's a crappy one" because until recently that meant the old Copper Bowl. So then I said it was "the old Capital One Bowl," but then they got even more confused because that's now the name of the Orange Bowl—you know, the BCS bowl in Miami that Big East teams used to go to. Then I discovered Talking Like a Human Being™. And once I said "Citrus Bowl" my friends knew that meant the bowl that 2nd place Big Ten teams go to, and they were more excited than that one time our sorority went ice skating with Goldy!"
: "I'm Batman. Specifically, I'm Batman from that 1990s Tim Burton movie with Jack Nicholson that hits all the nerd-nostalgia buttons for men between 25 and 40. When I say 'I'm Batman', people know that I'm Batman, because I've been calling myself Batman since 1939. Could you imagine if I was like: 'I'm Batman, presented by Vizio?' I'm sure I could make some money by doing that but to be honest I'm already filthy rich, and while Alfred assures me I could always use more money, I feel like the incremental revenue wouldn't be worth cheapening 75 years worth of brand equity. So I turned them down and went with Talking Like a Human Being™ instead. Because I'm Batman!"
[After the jump: bowl games in a human language, bowl logos without sponsors on them, and discussion on the whole title sponsorship business]