Bit of a format change for us in this dead period.
THE WATER POLO EMIRATES CUP
Shockingly won by Al Jazira over the heavily favored Al Nasr. What does this mean for the future of UAE water polo? Can former Partizan goaltender Nikola Radojicic forge the national team into a regional power?
DHONI QUITS TEST CRICKET
India's captain retires, citing strain. A tribute to a true legend of the game, a guy who played it the right way. Can Virat Kohli hope to replace Dhoni? We doubt it. Kohli's a bit of a wobble. Can't even keep his crumpets straight.
SIX NATIONS RUGBY A MESMERIZER
Ireland victorious as they come a clatter against the All Blacks. O'Neill tossed a real poofer in the final, wingeing the Scots a-dango. How will the Hottentots respond? Will the escape pod to Alpha Ceti be complete in time for the Eight Provinces Preliminaries? Will the Raja of Tambucktoo execute his back twelve for their diverse and sundry chest hair violations? Rug-a-roo and me too!
"Across 110th Street"
"Float On," Modest Mouse
National anthem of UAE
"Test Cricket Theme"
THE USUAL LINKS
“I guess it isn’t holiday break, everyone’s here. Thank you for that.”
“It’s great to be with all of you today, and I want to welcome all of the people here who come from all over the place to report this important news and I’d like to single out some people here that I think are quite special, and they made a special effort to join us. You’ve heard we have former coaches from Michigan in Lloyd Carr, Gary Moeller, and Jerry Hanlon. The Michigan faithful will always stop to shake their hands and thank them for all that they’ve done over the years for this great university. Let me do that as well, as they unselfishly helped me in thinking through this coaching transition.
All of these gentlemen coached under the late, great Glen E. “Bo” Schembechler, and with a simple phone call we have Bo’s wife, Kathy Schembechler, here, who made a huge effort through holiday break and snow storms in Denver to join us for this celebration today. Thank you, Kathy.
We also have here today Michigan Regents Kathy White, Larry Deitch, and Andrew Richner, all of whom have been so helpful in the process that we’ve constructed that resulted in this great outcome. And while I’m mentioning the top leadership at the University, let me also thank our President, Mark Schlissel, who had just arrived less than six months ago this summer. He was terrific to me in counsel, as a person to brainstorm with, and more importantly as a touchstone of what the University seeks in its destiny of being leaders and best in academics and athletics. And finally, I invited members of my team, two of whom have knocked themselves out since we started this project: Chrissi Rawak and Mike DeBord, plus Tim Lynch, who’s the VP and General Counsel; whenever you do a deal like this there’s a lot of legal work. Thanks to all three of them.
As you hear of my selection for our head coach you should also know I broke one of the cardinal rules of negotiation; I fell in love with the guy on the other side and his name’s John Dennison, and he played an enormous part in bringing the coach home.
I’m sorry for the preamble because I know you want me to get on with it, but this part of the program is really what it’s about being at Michigan; we recognize the team first. On December 3rd I asked you to be patient with me as we started this search, and we pledged to you a deliberate nature of our work, and we discussed how broadly we were going to search for this coach. We did that. We went through a deep think phase that led to our point of view today. Many fans, alumni, past players, they took the time to give me input. I even talked to our current team twice about this decision. Safe to say I heard from lots of people. So today, I’m very pleased and proud to announce the 20th Head Football Coach at the University of Michigan, Jim Harbaugh.
The real talent in the family is Sarah Harbaugh, who’s here with her children Addie, Katie, Jack, and Jimmy and Grace, and Jim’s brother-in-law John and niece Kennedy are here. Welcome to all of them, and a special welcome to Jack and Jackie Harbaugh. Jack was a coach here at Michigan for a number of years, and his wife Jackie- they were both incredible assets to our Michigan family as they were building what seemed to be a cadre of exceptional leaders in athletics.
Now, Jack was a coach when I played here and as I told Jim, he never had a bad day. He was such a positive influence and I’m glad he’s back around our program. Thanks, Jack.
I mentioned that I talked to lots of people, and one particularly famous pro coach who has done broadcasting for many years told me this: “You know, Jim Hackett, you didn’t just get a great coach. You got the best coach in football today, college or pro, in Jim Harbaugh.”
You know, there are a lot of great coaches out there. He has a brother who’s one, and we had many of them on our list. But when you ask how many of these coaches won at all levels, college and pro, it’s hard to find someone to compare it with. In my upbringing I remember my dad talking about Paul Brown, because he excelled at all levels. This guy’s just like that. I could go on about him. He won 49 games in four years with the San Francisco 49ers. Just amazing. And considering that he had really strong competitors in that league, including another one with the initials JH, he faced a lot of competition in the pros and amassed a fantastic record.
I think that Jim likely- no, surely- was a candidate for any of these pro jobs that opened yesterday, and yet he chose to come home. At Michigan Jim will make the same salary he was paid with the Niners. Jim has signed a seven-year deal, and a year from now I will review the football program’s progress and the University will determine and appropriate deferred compensation arrangement, which I have to take into account market conditions at that time. As you know, there’s a lot of opportunity out there for talent like this, but I don’t plan on talking more about pay because I’m totally at peace with the fact that we have a win-win deal here. When we thought about a way to signal Jim’s coming home, I looked around campus and realized maize is everywhere so today I’m wearing a maize watch and I gifted these to the family and friends as a reminder of this very special day. Our guy came home. Please join me in welcoming Jim to his first press conference as the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Coach at the University of Michigan- Jim Harbaugh.”
[HARBAUGH after THE JUMP]
For a distressingly long time, it appeared Jim Harbaugh's homecoming day would be slightly tarnished by another basketball loss. Then an unlikely hero emerged.
Aubrey Dawkins—a freshman from Palo Alto, because it's a day for poetry—came into today's game with 15 points on the season. He'd made just two of his 11 three-point attempts. But Michigan could not lose today, and Dawkins made sure of it, leading all scorers with 20 points and drilling six of seven triples. His final three was a dagger, giving the Wolverines a four-point lead with under two minutes left in overtime.
It looked remarkably unlikely that Michigan would even make it that far. After a listless first half that ended with a boneheaded foul to allow Illinois a three-point play, the Wolverines fell behind by as many as 13 in the second half. Then the offense found life. Dawkins sunk shot after shot. A previously stone cold Zak Irvin hit back-to-back threes to halve the Illini lead. Caris LeVert and Ricky Doyle worked the pick-and-roll with an effectiveness unseen so far this season.
Consecutive buckets by Doyle gave Michigan their first lead since the early going with just 1:13 to play, but Illinois' Malcolm Hill—who finished with a team-high 19—grabbed it right back with a pair of free throws. Doyle drew a foul on the next possession and split his pair, giving the Illini a chance to win it with the shot clock turned off. Rayvonte Rice bricked a contested 20-footer and Zak Irvin's miracle heave attempt was just a bit long, and the teams headed to overtime.
From there, Michigan's momentum continued. Dawkins and Irvin combined for ten of Michigan's 14 overtime points, with LeVert providing critical support with a pivoting pull-up in the final minute. Illinois struggled to crack a 2-3 zone that the Wolverines increasingly went to as the game wore on. In front of a raucous, capacity Crisler Crowd, M was able to run the clock out without too much stress.
The much-needed victory capped off a banner day for Michigan fans, who were treated to a brief halftime speech from Jim Harbaugh. The ovation for Harbaugh was as loud as Crisler has been this season.
That didn't last long, however. Dawkins caught fire, Crisler rocked, and the faithful who paid a pretty penny to see Harbaugh's first public appearance went home happy.
META: Okay hivemind, I think I'm gonna break the Tuesday column formerly known as Hokepoints (and Museday) into different columns, alternating between stat stuff and Xs and Os stuff. Gimme name ideas. Jimmystats and Jimmypens? I'm at a loss.
Lynn Sladky, AP via Freep.
In his profile in heroism on Harbaugh yesterday, Brian mentioned that THIS pro-style offense at least sometimes does things other than what the defense wants/expects/prepared for:
Those 5.2s [rushing YPC in 2009, 2010 and 2011 at Stanfard] are crazy given the context—on par with Rodriguez's Denard-era run games minus, you know, Denard. This is not a scheme that's just "run it until you stop it"—Harbaugh is trying to screw with your run fits every play.
I thought I'd get into that screwing just a bit because one thing we haven't seen much of at Michigan is someone who knows how to run a power offense correctly. We've seen DeBord and Borges run it poorly, and we've seen Nussmeier try to mold it onto a horizontal spread while still fulfilling Hoke's mandate that at least one tight end must be doing something he's bad at every play.
For something approximating what I expect Michigan will run I went back to the last game Harbaugh coached in college, the 2011 Orange Bowl. Stanford faced Bud Foster's quarters defense, which is helpful since VT's scheme is from the same tree that Michigan State and Ohio State now run.
This was an evisceration. Stanford called 27 running plays and got 300 yards (8.6 YPC) from them. You can remove garbage time (optional since Harbaugh was still running his offense full-bore at 34-12) and it's still 182 yards on 22 carries, for 8.3 YPC. A lot of those were deep gashes—60 yards, 26 yards, 56 yards—which is what you'd expect against a defense that usually gives its safeties gap assignments. I'll show you how the first of those gashes was set up.
Step 1: Scissors.
The first play from scrimmage Stanford came out in a standard I-formation: inline fullback, tight end off the line. Anyone who's scouted Stanford would guess they're going to run their bread 'n butter play: Power-O. We've been over that one before: the backside guard pulls, everyone else has to pin defenders in their spots, and then that pulling guard and the fullback and the RB all come downhill at the MLB, and the resulting yardage is determined by the resulting collision.
Harbaugh showed it without running it with a clever counter that sold the defense on Power-O then had the FB reverse direction and head into the flat, where the rolling out Andrew Luck had essentially a vertical option play on the isolated DB (I labeled him the BCB but I think I got him and the FS confused on the diagram):
He ran a West Coast play from the shotgun on the ensuing 1st down, and then on 2nd and 4 tried to put a power run on the backside with a pass look:
This was blown up by the MLB shooting the gap abandoned by the pulling right guard. A third down pass attempt was blown up when a blitzer wasn't picked up.
[After the jump: how to make the defense eat rock.]
Presser in an hour here. It's time.
And you can't have one without the other…
Michigan (7-5) vs.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||3 pm ET, Tuesday|
|LINE||Michigan -1 (KenPom)|
PBP: Bob Wischusen
Analyst: Dan Dakich
Right: At halftime, a special magic show. Or something.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. %Min and %Poss figure are from this season now—yes, there will be a fair amount of noise in these numbers for a while. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open.
|G||3||Ahmad Starks||Sr.||5'9, 170||60||19||Not Really|
|Nice assist:turnover, middling shooter, almost never gets to hoop.|
|G||25||Kendrick Nunn*||So.||6'3, 190||59||18||No|
|Very good outside shooter, less efficient inside arc, solid defender|
|G||24||Rayvonte Rice*||Sr.||6'4, 230||69||26||No|
|Stocky, high-usage slasher now hits threes. Team's best def. rebounder.|
|G||21||Malcolm Hill||So.||6'6, 230||64||25||No|
|Great midrange game, solid around hoop, can step out and hits threes.|
|C||32||Nnanna Egwu*||Sr.||6'11, 250||67||15||Yes|
|Good shot-blocker, offensive rebounder, def. rebounds still low.|
|G||11||Aaron Cosby||Jr.||6'3, 205||60||21||Kinda|
|Lost starting job to Nunn with eFG% hanging around 40.|
|G||1||Jaylon Tate||So.||6'3, 170||40||16||Yes|
|High assist and turnover rates. Almost never shoots. More FTA than FGA.|
|F||12||Leron Black||Fr.||6'7, 220||38||21||Very|
|Decent finisher, not connecting outside paint. Best all-around rebounder.|
Illinois is off to one of the better starts among Big Ten teams by virtue of not having a crippling non-conference loss. (Or two. Sigh.) Two of their three losses have been to teams Michigan has faced: #7 Villanova and #66 Oregon. The Illini also fell on the road to #78 Miami (YTM).
Aside from an admittely impressive eight-point triumph over #19 Baylor, however, they lack quality wins; their next-best victory came against #143 American, and no other team they've beaten sits within the top 170 on KenPom. Only Mizzou kept it even remotely close among those teams, however, so the Illini are at least thumping the teams they should.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
Only mildly less entertaining than the NFL falling all over itself to explain why one of their best coaches left them for college is the NFL falling over itself to pick a champion. Make fun of their beat writers all you want but their playoff games are really fun to watch. Even the Ryan Lindley vs. whatever came out of the NFC South game manages to merit my attention.
But then I like college bowls so much more, even when my team's staying home hiring Harbaugh and stuff.
So like Jim Harbaugh, you get to pick; we have a new NFL game for the Wild Card round, and we're still running the The Bowl Game Cash Game (from last week) for those who prefer college. Of course, nobody's stopping you if you'd like to do both.
|What's your deal?|
The Pro Option: In keeping with All-baugh theme for today I tried to draft my team of all guys who've played for Harbaugh. I found four eligible out of the four eligible wild card games: Andrew Luck, Stepfan Taylor and Colby Fleener from Stanford, and Ted Ginn Jr. from Harbaugh's first year at San Francisco.
-$100,000 prize pool.
- First place wins $10,000
- $2 entry fee (FREE with first deposit).
- Top 11,500 are paid.
- Starts on Saturday, January 3 at 4:25 PM EST
- Salary Cap Style Drafting. $50,000 to select 9 spots. 8 players and 1 defense.
- Roster Format: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex and 1 Defense
- First time depositors at DraftKings receive a 100% bonus up to $600
The College Option: If you follow the link to last week's I figured out which teams may tempo their way into or out of better performances, and which defenses might lend their assists.
The game is the college football $20k mini cash bowl. It's a $2 entry fee with $20k in prizes, and a lot of space left. I liked it because the bowl lineup has a lot of teams I pay attention to, including all the New Years Day games.
-$20,000 prize pool.
- First place wins $2,000
- $2 entry fee (FREE with first deposit).
- Top 2,300 win money guaranteed
- Starts on Thursday, January 1st at 12:00 PM EST
- Salary Cap Style Drafting. $50,000 to select 9 players
- Roster Format: 2 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE and 1 Flex
- First time depositors at DraftKings receive a 100% bonus up to $600
PODCAST TOMORROW. Hooray. Also we'll do a twitter Q&A/presser thing.
THANKS FOR PLAYING. Countable coaches are also not a priority at the Free Press.
— Brian (@BKudron) December 29, 2014
Yes, you have already seen this six times today.
INTENSITY. One, tiny Jim Harbaugh looks exactly like my brother did at the same age. Two, he was always Jim Harbaugh.
— Rachel Lenzi (@RLenziBlade) December 29, 2014
THIS IS PROBABLY NOT GOING TO HAPPEN AGAIN. But I wouldn't put it past him.
LOOKS PRETTY HATED TO ME YOU GUYS. The early-season word in the NFL was that Harbaugh's act had worn thin with NFL players and that he was widely hated in the locker room. That appears to be attempted spin by the Niners management as they attempt to cover for their decision to axe the fifth-winningest coach in NFL history:
This is not at all what it was said to be.
— Ryan Leong (@RyanLeong) December 29, 2014
In the aftermath of Harbaugh's departure Niners players tweeted out seemingly heartfelt things about how they'll miss him. They gave him the game ball. I was struck by how Harbaugh lit up when someone in the room for his final presser asked about Frank Gore's performance in San Francisco's season-ending win over Arizona. "THANK YOU!" he exclaimed before praising Gore as a true competitor.
It was reminiscent of Harbaugh's reaction in the aftermath of Stanford's stunning upset of USC in 2007: approached by ESPN, he said "don't talk to me, talk to Pritchard," his third-string QB who led the team to victory. So they did. The guy is a nut but he's a team-focused nut.
If the YOU DON'T SAY meme didn't exist we'd have to invent it. I mean.
Jim Harbaugh and 49ers have mutually parted ways, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 29, 2014
Schefter is still the last guy dying on NFL hill (well, maybe not the last), saying that Michigan official "believe" Harbaugh is coming back with them today and continually saying things like Michigan boosters were "told" that it's happening while still saying that NFL teams are pursuing. Schefter will probably tweet "Raiders officials plan to meet with Harbaugh after this press conference ends" on Tuesday.
And ESPN is simultaneously trying to credit him with breaking the story. Cumong man.
Do you even read what you write? Ray Ratto:
People will immediately seek out informers at Stanford, where Harbaugh wore out his welcome on a college setting, as well as he did with the 49ers.
Many people will yell at him for being a dumbass on twitter, and Ratto will blame the people yelling at him. I have a feeling that Stanford might have consented to a fifth year of Harbaugh.
He may know Michigan, but he cannot truly own Michigan. He didn’t own Stanford when he helped bring down USC, and he only owned the 49ers until the smell of a new stadium got into York’s lungs. And his history of wearing on players is well and often told, loudly enough to show him that he has to find another, more contemporary, gear.
Tell that to Frank Gore, and a lot of people:
Iupati said things got pretty emotional after Harbaugh and his players had what Harbaugh termed a "discussion" in the locker room after the game.
As usual, Harbaugh concluded the talk with everyone huddled in the middle of the room, a hand raised in the air and thrust toward Harbaugh's hand as he asked, "Who's got it better than us?" And everyone replied "Nobody."
"That was awesome," Iupati said. "I will remember that for the rest of my life. We're going to miss him. I'm going to miss him."
The other narrative. Now that Harbaugh's exited the NFL, the narrative switches from "never happen" to "there weren't any suitable openings" and "he's going to leave immediately anyway." Florio:
He wanted to stay in the NFL, but with no viable options paying him at or near $8 million and Michigan ready to give him the keys to the financial kingdom, it appears that Jim Harbaugh will indeed become the next coach of the Wolverines.
Please. If Harbaugh wanted to stay in the NFL he wouldn't be on a plane today. He wouldn't have told Michigan he was coming a week ago. He would be waiting to see what the casualties were on Black Monday, and possibly having his agent hint, oh, 20 or so NFL teams that if they axed their guy he would come. As Braves and Birds put it:
Yes, NFL insiders, after being consistently wrong about Harbaugh to Michigan, I am interested in your opinions on how long he'll stay.
— Michael (@BravesAndBirds) December 29, 2014
Tangential Harbaugh. Via Dr. Sap, Gerald Ford with Bo, 1976:
PEAK WEINREB. As Michigan struggled, Michael Weinreb carved out a cottage industry for himself rewriting the same column about how Michigan is old and fusty and arrogant and not too good at football, all the while coolly ignoring the fact that similar criticisms could be made about Penn State at deafening volume levels. So it is right and just that he's the guy Grantland called out of the bullpen to throw shade on the Harbaugh hire. This covers all the bases:
I would worry that Harbaugh is doing this for the money (a reported $48 million over six years, which would make him the sport’s highest-paid coach) or out of some misguided sense of obligation to his alma mater.
Weinreb is concerned that Harbaugh is doing this for money and that he is not doing this for money. I think he's got us on that one.
I look forward to the next one of these. My almanac says it should be in the immediate aftermath of the Spring Game.
Etc.: Probably legit post from a Harbaugh son about what went down with the Niners. Nick Baumgardner could teach some NFL folks the three words that lead his column. All your Harbaugh weirdness documented. Manning is still around, if that means anything. Best And Worst! Top 5 Harbaugh games. Five reasons this is awesome for neutrals.