THAT'S THE SPIRIT. User "Number 7" on the correct way to take all information:
1. All good news is good news. (Because it's good news. Duh.)
2. All bad news is good news. (Because it's probably just a smokescreen, because timing.)
and, thanks to this,
3. No news is good news. (Because also timing.)
Don't forget "4. In case of 2, annihilate the messenger."
ON HARBAUGH'S INTEREST LEVEL. I like it when NFL guys fire off things that I know aren't true, because then I can rail against 'em. It provides a level of certainty that's rare in any coaching search, and especially this one featuring a primary candidate who's employed until the end of December.
So: I know that the Michigan end of things referred to here…
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 7, 2014
…certainly does not think they're going to have to move on, at least not to the point of being "convinced" about anything. There was a meeting of some variety—executed slightly better than Jeremy Foley's—but the aftermath of it has not seen any lack of pursuit or increased focus on guys other than Harbaugh. Since Michigan didn't advertise it to the nation, we can't be certain exactly who was involved. I've heard it was high-level, possibly a Hackett-Harbaugh face-to-face.
I don't know what's going to happen, but the NFL-facing sources have been so strident about things that I know are not true multiple times that I take every new report from them with a grain of salt. If they end up being right it's not going to be because they're super plugged in.
ALSO HARBAUGH. Heard that he took in the OSU game with a bunch of former teammates who were asking him to fix things, to which he said (paraphrased) 1) you'll have to wait a bit here and 2) I'll have to get paid like a top five college coach.
The upshot of the first bit: Harbaugh isn't going to to anything that would be seen as abandoning his team, even as their playoff odds get extremely long. Don't expect something until the 28th, if Michigan is still waiting then.
The upshot of the second: I don't think we're talking Godfather money here, but something approximately Saban/Meyer yes. This was apparently the subject of a brief tug-of-war at the AD/prez/regents level when Schlissel balked at the idea and the regents were like "no, actually, this makes sense because X and Y." They are good to go for compensation, with donor aid.
UNLESS! That is, unless Harbaugh gets canned before the season's over. That would be completely nuts on San Francisco's part, but guys who cover the team are broaching the idea:
With a trip to Seattle coming Sunday, where the 49ers haven't won since 2011, before Russell Wilson was drafted, there's a reasonable chance Harbaugh doesn't last the season.
The precedent is Harbaugh's predecessor Mike Singletary, who was fired in Week 16 of 2010, after San Francisco was eliminated from playoff contention. That year, the Seahawks won the NFC West going 7-9.
If they're so inclined Michigan could step in and save the 49ers a hunk of money. With Harbaugh's contract an asset, it's unlikely he gets fired-fired; SF would probably not want him across the Bay and if so would want to get at least a mid-round pick out of it. Speaking of across the Bay…
MARK DAVIS IS A ROMULAN
DON'T WORK FOR THE ROMULANS BECAUSE THEY'LL EVENTUALLY ENSLAVE YOU AND PUT YOU TO WORK IN THE DILITHIUM MINES OF PENTAX IV, THAT'S MY MOTTO
SHUT UP, IT'S A GOOD MOTTO
AM I MINING UNTIL I DIE ON A ROCK IN THE DEMILITARIZED ZONE? NO? QED.
THIS BETTING MARKET IS ALL OVER THE PLACE. After pulling their Harbaugh prop over the weekend, it returns with the Raiders a heavy favorite:
Harbaugh coaching odds opened OAK 5-6 Other NFL Team 2-1 Does Not Coach 5-2 SF 6-1 Michigan 6-1 Other NCAA Team 15-1 http://t.co/wgXQWIYuj0
— Sportsbook.com ® (@Sportsbook_com) December 8, 2014
And then a heavier one:
Re Harbaugh 2015 Odds...within minutes of tweeting out the new odds we took heavy action on Oakland Raiders so moved them from -120 to -200
— Sportsbook.com ® (@Sportsbook_com) December 8, 2014
That wild swing is likely because of the weekly NFL reporter scoffing and the fact that Harbaugh talked to Raiders owner Prince Valium after San Francisco lost to his team on Sunday. I'm a little skeptical Harbaugh's going to take the worst possible NFL job, one that might not even be in Oakland next year, but that ain't good. On the other hand:
.@Sportsbook_com If he's 6-1 to coach San Francisco next year, then what is "Raptured following glorious victory over Lizard People?" 8-1?
— Bryan Mac (@Bry_Mac) December 8, 2014
And they just dropped the M odds to 4-to-1 as money comes in on them once again. Woo!
PROPS TO NFL LLOYD CHRISTMAS, THOUGH. This is a good quote:
What did they talk about? I asked Davis, who laughed and said:
“I told him, ‘You stole our dysfunction!” Davis said. “‘That’s supposed to be our thing!’”
THE PLAN B TIER. With everyone laser-focused on Harbaugh there continues to be little clarity as to who might be the backup plan. Les Miles said he had not been contacted by Michigan, and I continue to believe that he's facing too much internal opposition to get a serious sniff.
Sam Webb has had a couple posts on Greg Schiano and Steve Addazio in the last couple days, names that alarm and boggle. The most recent was at least about how Addazio is a more likely candidate than Schiano; I choose to interpret that information as "we do not want Greg Schiano so passionately we would choose to hire Steve Addazio over him." Corroborating is Steve Lorenz, who says all the noise about Schiano has come from his end($), with no Michigan folk mentioning his name.
That leaves Addazio's presence. Bald Brady Hoke makes no sense as any kind of candidate except to your crazy old coot grandfather who has all his savings in gold and doesn't trust the FDIC. Unfortunately, we have a lot of those hanging around. FWIW, I haven't heard one thing about him.
I don't think anyone has a strong grasp on who Plan B is. Rivals is pushing guys like Sean Payton and Bret Bielema; meanwhile on WTKA this morning Sam was talking about Jim Mora. I have heard diverse and sundry names, none of which stand out from the crowd. Clint Brewster's five guys not named Harbaugh or Miles seems like a realistic baseline: David Shaw, Mora, Dan Mullen, Kyle Whittingham… sigh… Addazio.
kind of looks like Scott Bakula
PINKEL? Seeing chatter about Mizzou's Gary Pinkel, but… like… okay remember what happened when Nebraska hired Mike Riley? Gary Pinkel is a bit like that. He's obviously got a much better track record than Riley what with his five ten-win seasons in the last eight years, but he would be 63 by the time he coached one game at M. By the time he got his guys in here he'd be ready to retire.
Pinkel may be an excellent coach, but is he that much better than a guy a decade younger than him? Coaching transitions suck; do you want to guarantee yourself another one in 5-7 years?
HE DOES THIS EVERY YEAR. One of the most attractive candidates on the B tier is on the verge of signing an extension:
Scott Stricklin expects a contract extension for Dan Mullen soon.
"Dan, in his defense, his focus has been recruiting, being in bowl prep," Stricklin said. "But I'm optimistic we can get that wrapped up pretty soon."
Ah but there's a catch with the headline here:
Mississippi state law doesn't allow for a state employee's contract to extend more than four years. In each of the five previous seasons Stricklin and Mullen have come to an agreement. This year appears no different.
Iowa fans envy Mississippi State law so hard right now. But anyway: because of this law MSU has gone back to Mullen every year for a pro forma extension. That statement from the AD is based on hope and expectation and not nearly as meaningful as it would be otherwise.
There's been a bare minimum of Mullen chatter aside from some national guys on Scout saying he would jump if given the opportunity, so for whatever (probably bad) reasons are out there he does not seem like a likely option if Harbaugh falls through. That makes no sense to me, nor big chunks of the coaching fraternity. It is what it is. I'm still hoping this apparent lack of interest is because there is no serious interest in anyone not named Harbaugh just yet.
THIS, HOWEVER, IS THE END OF BUTCH. Butch Jones gets extended to 2020 at $3.6 million a year(!). In two years at Tennessee he's 11-13 and his best win is likely over South Carolina this year. Recruiting's going in the right direction, but as Hoke demonstrated that's not always enough.
In any case, that's enough to knock Jones off the Plan B list.