Signing of the Stars 2017: Jim Harbaugh

Signing of the Stars 2017: Jim Harbaugh

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on February 2nd, 2017 at 12:04 PM

[Bill Rapai]

This year’s event seemed to be focused more on the internal stars, if you will—brining out the coaches, introducing the alumni, all that. What was the decision behind that and what do you think of this event compared to last year’s?

“Yeah, that was really it. It was just a thought that I had, we had, to make it more about Michigan, from the band, the cheerleaders, the drum line, coaches, players, parents. Just make it about the family, make it about the family that we are at the University of Michigan.”

Why did you want to make that change compared to last year?

“I just thought it’d be better. Not comparing the two; I think they’re both great. Just kind of the direction—it just felt right. That was the ‘why.’”

Does that reinforce the family atmosphere here at Michigan?

“It means so much to me. Never has that resonated more; brought home our seventh child yesterday. Came right out, gave it to Eddie McDoom on a fly sweep. They were giving it to us. Had to take it. There’s no better word in the English language to me than ‘family,’ this family of ours, the University of Michigan.”

/Ambry Thomas sneaks up behind Harbaugh

“Compete, Coach! Compete!”

JH: “Compete! Compete! Compete! Was that good? Good job, Ambry.”

You touched on it up there, but the combination of this receiving class you’re brining in and Pep Hamilton moving forward with that group.

“It’s a very dynamic group. Wonderful guys, you know. Really talented people, and just thankful. Today is a day I thank the guys. I thank ‘em for coming to the University of Michigan, for choosing Michigan. I thank the parents for trusting us with their children. So, it’s a day to be thankful. It’s a day to celebrate, and very happy. I mean, this is Michigan. I want just to come be great. I want them to take advantage of everything Michigan has to offer. So, a lot of emotions, but mostly joy.”

Can you talk about the trip to Italy and your reaction to the NCAA ruling that this is the last year of spring break camps?

“Yeah, we’re not going during spring break, so…[/smiles]. We’re going at the end of the term, so it’s compliant with all rules or new rules that have been made. And let’s talk about what mainly it is: it’s an unbelievable opportunity for all of us—youngsters and adults alike—to have an educational opportunity, to connect with the people from another country, to study in terms of study abroad. Most all our players are going to have that opportunity to study abroad, do internships, do service.

“We’re going to Italy, we’re gonna be there for a week, we’re going to practice, but from there all our players are going to be able to branch out all over the world. Thinking that the classroom—the world is our classroom. And they’re going to be going to Iceland, Belgium, Japan, Israel, South America, Puerto Rico, all over the world to do their classes in May. It’s so phenomenal that I can’t wait to get there.”

[After THE JUMP: Tom Brady, HC; loading the Jim Harbaugh Coaching Express; future trips abroad]

The Undertow of Apparel

The Undertow of Apparel

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on August 1st, 2016 at 11:30 AM

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[Fuller/MGoBlog]

It’s hard to pick out when it really came into focus. It might have been when I heard that the line to get in went from the front of M-Den to near Angell Hall. It could have been when I looked down State Street to see where the end of said line was and saw only a street so full of people that the line was indistinguishable and the people stretched as far back as I could see. Maybe it was when a group of five or six people dove to the sidewalk about three feet to my right, and what I thought was an insane overreaction to someone cutting the line was just a bunch of people willing to sustain concrete burns for their shot at grabbing the hat Jim Harbaugh threw into the crowd. The setting was familiar, the logos were familiar, but the environment was completely different than anything that Michigan fans have ever seen. This was no mere apparel release event. This was unmistakably a Harbaugh-led party.

Harbaugh’s a man who hates comparing people. If you ask him to compare players he just won’t do it, and his reasoning is solid: compare one person to another and one necessarily gets diminished. Yet there we were, on a humid summer evening in Ann Arbor weeks before students get back in town, crammed so close that you know whether someone’s wearing a fragrance or whether they’re just fragrant, listening to Jim Harbaugh talk about how this is what the street will look when Michigan wins a national title. At some point he must have surveyed the college football landscape and decided that it was fine to start talking about where he thinks his team stacks up relative to the rest of the country.

The program’s expectations are different now, and the fanbase’s zealousness reflects that. They’re as high as they’ve ever been; there’s a gap the size of Tacopants between expectations from a decade ago and expectations today. Events like last night’s reinforce what seems to be the program’s theme and carefully curated direction: on the surface, everything old is new again. Then there’s something extra beyond the old “everything” that’s momentarily disorienting and refreshingly different.


Created with flickr slideshow.

The last time Michigan switched apparel companies they had just hired a new head football coach whose spread offense gashed the most firmly held beliefs of some subsets of the fanbase as well as it did defenses. This time around Michigan’s new head football coach is in his second year on campus, and the freshest memory of his tenure is the saccharine success of Michigan in the Citrus Bowl. People didn’t line up last night just to buy new clothes. They lined up because this was an opportunity to get a free ticket for the 11:59 PM hype train.

Signing on with Nike and getting outfitted not just with the swoosh but in Jordan Brand apparel is new and different and plays to the soft spot of most people associated with Michigan. You don’t go to a school or become a fan of a school where you hear about the “Michigan Difference” every 20 minutes and walk away feeling like blending into the pack is a lovely place to be. People wanted something different, but they weren’t interested in change for the sake of change. The reason to switch could have been as straightforward as Harbaugh’s review of his appearance in a rap video: the cool kids liked it. But that wasn’t enough for Jim Hackett and company. They found a way to get Jordan Brand looped into the deal, and they found a way to take the Jumpman logo, a logo that resonated with people as being a cut above, and get that stitched onto Michigan’s football jerseys.

In isolation, the switch to Nike and Jordan may not have been enticing enough to start an honest to goodness block party, but the excitement certainly would have been high enough to get something of a line to form to buy the new stuff when it came out. Then Michigan won 10 games, including a demolition of an SEC team whose defense was supposed to be murderous. Then Harbaugh started talking about setting goals that are so high others will laugh at you. Then he stopped talking about the process of getting to know his team and started dropping “national championship” here and there.

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Real, authentic excitement is easy to derive from the comfort of seeing things you’re used to while feeling a sense of optimism about what’s to come, a belief that familiarity doesn’t have to mean a stagnant future but can be an element of something entirely new. Harbaugh found a way to do what the old guard has wanted for over two decades: resurrect Schembechler football. Harbaugh being Harbaugh, he then took it and twisted it into something that only looked like the kind of football that was played on Tartan Turf but attacked in a different and complex way, a way that defensive coordinators really could have used all those years between Schembechler and Harbaugh to prepare for. He took what was the ceiling of the old guard’s aspirations--to win a Big Ten title--and tore the roof off. The new expectation is that Michigan can compete not only in their conference but with anyone across the country. That this is being hammered on publicly by the head coach puts Michigan in rarefied air. Everything looks and feels familiar but elevated, and on Sunday night people couldn’t wait to drape themselves in the zeitgeist.

Unverified Voracity Is Actually A Good Cook

Unverified Voracity Is Actually A Good Cook

Submitted by Brian on April 28th, 2016 at 3:12 PM

Hello. Sorry about that involuntary vacation there. Dumping water on your laptop is not fun, especially when the backup you had on hand for just such an eventuality doesn't boot either. Then I was at Blogs With Balls yesterday, trying to look somewhat official.

I am back now, even if the change in keyboard styles makes me want to die. Nothing makes me angrier than trying to use a keyboard I'm not familiar with. It's like having a stroke, one that suddenly puts punctuation all over the place for no reason. Anyway.

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Just another day in the life. Offseason is relative.

Jim Harbaugh gives his version of Drake's album cover, gets RT'd by the First Lady

Anonymous NFL scout strikes again. The woooooorst:

There's about a 90% chance that the dude anonymously slamming Apple's life skills spends most of his life in hotels, has been divorced four times, and hasn't cooked anything more complicated than cereal since the 1970s. Also, this random slam from a guy who doesn't even know Apple appears to be 100% false:

The NFL draft starts tonight so our brief annual spate of anonymous, ludicrous slams of NFL prospects is just about over. Tune in next year, when someone accuses Jourdan Lewis of setting fire to his toaster.

Durkin on Harbaugh. None of this is actually a surprise; it is a confirmation about what life under Harbaugh is like:

CR: I'd imagine your early days at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh were a lot like the early ones at Bowling Green under Meyer. Is that accurate?

Durkin: It was absolute mayhem. It really was.

When I first got there, it was like, oh my gosh. Then you finally spend more time with Jim. The guy is really smart. Extremely smart. Everything is for a reason, but he loves chaos. That's just how he operates. He loves confrontation, chaos, conflict. He doesn't want it to be everyone comfortable, this is the schedule. He just loves throwing a wrench in the works.

So, when you first get there, it's like, what's going on? But it was great. To see someone impose their will, their confidence, their vision on a program, to totally change it—total 180. Stanford was known as a soft, academic, wine-sipping program. Now it's the total opposite. He definitely imposed his will on the place.

This was Bo's approach to the point where he would deliberately stoke fights between his coaches just to see what everyone really thought. Harbaugh runs through a lot of coaches; they generally move on up afterwards, often quickly, because life under Harbaugh is a pressure cooker.

Durkin also relates the one-on-one story we've heard a couple times before:

CR: Let's end with the story of you playing Harbaugh one-on-one at Stanford. What do you remember?

Durkin: It was a random day in the office. We were meeting, talking about something, and he was dribbling a basketball. We were talking about something—recruiting or something—and the conversation somehow got to, "Hey, let's go out and play."

So we went to play one-on-one. First to seven. Great. So we're playing. I went up for a layup or something, he fouled—I mean, hacked me. And I didn't call it. I didn't expect him to call foul. No, we're good. Check up.

Then it became, O.K., if that's not a foul, there are no fouls. So the game went on for—the reason it became epic—it was over an hour-long game. To seven. And people are up there watching. No one wanted to lose, and no one would call a foul. So it was, if the guy got a step on you, chuck him in the back, lose the ball. Nope, no foul. Good, your ball. So it went on. It was well over an hour. A game to seven.

CR: Who won?

Durkin: He won. I let him win in the end. Job security.

I've repeatedly stated that I was skeptical about how good of a DC Durkin actually was after Michigan tailed off against spread teams late, but he's the kind of guy who could be much better as a head coach than a coordinator*. He's already done some good things with Maryland's recruiting.

*[And he's just unproven there, not necessarily bad. Last year was his first truly running his own D after operating under Will Muschamp at Florida and he inherited a ton of talent from the previous guy. It's striking how close the parallels are between 2015 and 2006, which also saw a hotshot new coordinator inherit a bucket of talent, turn his unit into one of the nation's best, and then get annihilated by Ohio State while doing something seemingly nonsensical. With Durkin that was running a safety at 15 yards against a spread to run offense; with Ron English it was trying to cover an NFL first-round WR with Chris Graham.]

Maryland doesn't recruit good and stuff. Excellent data post from Capital News service detailing the futility of Maryland recruiting despite a healthy amount of local talent. It incidentally proves our Mississippi Is A Black Hole Nothing Escapes theory:

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That will never cease being a mystery to me.

I do think there are some questionable assumptions the data invites you to take away here because their list of top talent-producing states has Delaware(?!) third and Hawaii fifth. This is correct on a per-capita basis, but why that's relevant to a college trying to fill a recruiting class is unclear. (Delaware is likely that high because of ECA, the controversial magnet school that Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson attended.)

Incoming Cain? MI SF Jamal Cain got his Michigan offer. Cain, a 2017 kid ranked as a three star by the world, got a bunch of Michigan predictions on his 247 page in the immediate aftermath. It doesn't sound like he'll drop immediately…

"His recruiting is rapidly growing," said Covington, a former player at Oakland, who added that Cain is likely to go through the recruiting process and not commit anywhere until before or duirng his senior year at Cornerstone Prep.

Cain is currently rated as the No. 190 overall played in the 2016 class in the 247 Sports Composite.

…but plans have a tendency to change. Endless Motor has an interview with Cain that is of interest:

EM: Can you tell us a a bit about the basketball presentation?

JC: Coach Beilein showed me film of Tim Hardaway Jr. and Zak Irvin, and said he wanted me to play a similar role at the shooting guard/small forward spots, and that I would be used in that way. Coach Beilein said I could really thrive in that role at UM.

In Trey-Burke-ish basketball recruiting news, Xavier SImpson surges into the top 50 in ESPN's final rankings after an outstanding senior season that saw him win the USA Today POY in the state.

So much for that. JT Compher signs with the Avs and CCM is gone lock, stock, and barrel. When Red returned one of the arguments made in favor of that decision was that CCM was more likely to return—at least portions of it—in Ann Arbor. That obviously did not work out.

With NHL departures now (probably) completed, this is what Michigan's looking at next year. I'm bumping Cutler Martin up to F:

Kile/Marody/Calderone
Dancs/Lockwood/Warren
Pastujov/Shuart/Allen
Sanchez/Winborg/Martin

On D:

De Jong/Boka
Cecconi/Piazza
L Martin/Luce

That does not look like a tournament team unless Michigan is better than it's been on defense since Mel left. Michigan loses six of its top seven scorers and gets back only two forwards who were significantly above zero in +/-: Kile and Dancs.

Goodbye Idaho. If only EMU would follow. The Vandals are dropping down to I-AA after getting booted from the Sun Belt, which only admitted them in the first place so they could have a conference championship game. With no conference home and none pending, their only logical move was to drop down and play with the Montanas and North Dakota States of the world. Two things: this apparently won't even save them money…

The athletic department will save money having to fund fewer scholarships (63 as opposed to 85), but a source told CBS Sports that the program will lose money overall.

…and Idaho football costs about 20% as much as EMU's athletic deficit.

While the move enjoys some support in the community, Idaho will lose its FBS branding -- playing at the highest level of college football. Idaho students fund football to the tune of $127 per semester in their tuition payments.

Which is boggling if you think about it. EMU faculty and students just urged the university to drop football, to which the regents said "nah." Eastern's athletic department spending is completely insane:

The study point to an increase in the total full time equivalent athletic staff from 64 in 2006-07 to 85 in 2015-16, doubling staff salaries from $3.2 million to $6.4 million as the department saw 10 more coaching positions and more than 11 "athletic personnel" added during the same time period. During that same time period, the report indicates EMU's entire faculty increased by just 15.78 full-time equivalent personnel.

The arms race at the top of college athletics makes sense because the money's got to go somewhere. Eastern is setting money on fire—its students' money.

Rappists say nice things. I mean, I think they do. Migos on Harbaugh:

"He knows the music," Migos member Offset told TMZ. "He's a real cool playa. He's a playa, man, from the Himalayas."

#wellactually he goes to the Andes mountains, person who was clearly trying to rhyme things.

SBN on the Big Ten's rights situation. This is a point worth considering:

Will coaches freak out if their games aren’t on ESPN?
Yes, and so will administrators throughout the conference. Years ago, when the ACC flirted with leaving ESPN for Fox, some of the conference’s powerful basketball coaches were not shy about voicing their displeasure, believing that the lack of ESPN coverage would hurt their recruiting efforts. It’s too early to know how Big Ten coaches and athletic directors will react. But consider this: When school administrators asked at the recent league meetings if it’s possible for ESPN to get shut out, they were told, “Anything is possible.” One senior official at a Big Ten school said his peers “were scared to death” at the prospect of not having games on ESPN, which could eat into their recruiting.

ESPN's "lowball" offer for half the rights package was easy to pass over. It'll be harder for the Big Ten to extract maximum revenue from the second half without abandoning ESPN entirely, and that's a move everyone is wary of. Well, maybe. I've yet to see the Big Ten do anything other than maximize revenue.

Etc.: MLS to Detroit? If so you have to make them Detroit City and call them "The Rock." This is not negotiable. Profiles of Graham Glasgow and Jourdan Lewis. More on Glasgow's draft status. Jabrill Peppers already being talked about for next year's draft. A CFB commissioner is discussed; seems impractical. Baseball doing well. Holding The Rope on personnel shifts at ESPN.