INSIDER BITS TODAY: MEH. Holding pattern time. I don't have anything specific to tell you that isn't out there already, just continued opinion that Harbaugh is very much in play and Michigan is still focused on him, with everyone else Plan B. I think we might see some movement over the weekend or early next week, especially if the 49ers are officially eliminated from the playoffs (a 49ers loss and Lions win will make it 100%).
Expect Michigan to start reaching out to potential replacements in earnest soon; that won't mean that Harbaugh's definitively out, it'll mean that he hasn't definitely said yes. Harbaugh won't have a truly clear picture of his options until the NFL season is over. He does not know what he wants to do now.
If Michigan doesn't get deeply involved with a short list over the next couple weeks that's a good sign.
WE THOUGHT THIS WAS ASHLEY MADISON DOT COM, NOT MADISON, WISCONSIN. SEEYA.
BARRY ALVAREZ MUST SMELL LIKE ROTEL THAT'S BEEN IN THE FRIDGE SINCE THE BIG TEN WAS RELEVANT. Oregon State's shock hire of Gary Andersen after just two years—two quite successful years—at Wisconsin moves a coaching opening much closer to Michigan in both geography and prestige. Well… probably, as far as the latter goes. Wisconsin's now had coaches bug out for the post-Petrino wasteland at Arkansas and the 10th best job in the Pac-12*. I can't see that happening at Michigan.
I don't buy most of the explanations out there for Andersen's departure. Wisconsin doesn't pay its assistants like a program with their success level would be expected to, but Oregon State doesn't either. Family reasons cited by Alvarez are transparent bunk. Everyone's talking about academic issues, which I guess could be jarring as you move from Utah State, but Wisconsin's done just fine with whatever standards they've had forever. It kind of looks like Alvarez is a Brandon-esque figure hovering over his coaches. In his defense, he was a really successful football coach instead of a guy who sold cardboard disks purporting to be pizza.
Will Wisconsin's search impact Michigan? It's doubtful but not outlandishly so. After getting burned by consecutive outsiders, Wisconsin may prefer a Wisconsin Man and go for Pitt HC Paul Chryst, NC State HC Dave Doeren or Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell. If they eschew those options they might promote DC Dave Aranda, who had very shiny stats before OSU bombed them, or go with a mid-level HC not currently on Michigan's radar. It's probable that Wisconsin finds a guy without pinging anyone Michigan would ask after.
Any impact would come if both teams end up hunting coordinators, and even then it seems like the teams would split the two obvious Big Ten candidates and be happy with it. Pat Narduzzi makes more sense than Tom Herman for the Badgers: Wisconsin knows what it is on offense and wouldn't want to change it. Herman makes more sense for M because they need offensive repairs desperately.
BUT SERIOUSLY. Wisconsin should hire Bo Pelini.
NO SERIOUSLY. I'm serious. This is not just for the epic trolling it would set up.
*[Colorado and WSU are worse. Probably.]
ONE OTHER POSSIBLE EFFECT. Herman and Aranda were in fact teammates at Cal Lutheran back in the day. If M does end up going for Herman and Aranda is cut loose at Wisconsin that would be an obvious option for DC.
never not funny
HARBAUGH HARBAUGH HARBAUGH. Tim Kawakami had an interesting piece on parallels between the Harbaugh-49ers rift and that between Mark Jackson and the Golden State Warriors, a post that also roped in Chris Mullin. This bit is the most directly applicable to you:
Harbaugh will not talk about the strife. Not publicly or–I believe–privately.
He tried to deny that there were any true tensions this off-season, because that’s his usual tactic, but as the stories have piled up starting from the early weeks of the regular season, Harbaugh has just generally refused to comment on the meaning of all this–and he won’t deny the possibility that management is doing it, either.
He’s not doing this as a zen practice, Harbaugh is doing this because he’s hunkered down, fighting through every day, and if management wants to conduct a campaign against him, that’s only going to sharpen his wits for the next move (while staying silent about what it might be).
Another similarity: Mullin naturally took the quiet high road because he knew he’d succeed elsewhere. I guarantee you that’s what Harbaugh feels now. …
This is all–I firmly believe–coming from 49ers management.
We know Harbaugh is talking a bit privately, but even then he plays his cards very close to the vest. He gave Charles Woodson a press conference answer when they talked…
"I spoke to him briefly, just said 'what's up,' and I almost started to get into the conversation but he kind of game me the same line he gave everybody at his press conference," Woodson said Tuesday on The Rich Eisen Show. "The well-being of his team and the well-being of his family. That was about as far into it as we were going to get."
…(since that press conference answer made the press, that was a good move). Meanwhile he's refusing to mention anything other than the next game, and he was relatively circumspect with the former M players he watched the OSU game with. I've gotten reports that he is cagey with everyone, with small cracks that may let people in on his intentions. A few people who've known him forever get Harbaugh's unvarnished thoughts—and even they don't know what he'll do.
This would explain a great deal of the disconnect between NFL reporters and the Michigan guys. Everything the NFL guys get is coming from management types who have a vested interest in Harbaugh staying in the NFL, either because they want him or want to trade him. Guys who talk to him personally get a different take.
BUT NOT CHARLES. Woodson continued:
"The way it sounds to me there's not even that one in a million," he added. "It doesn't sound too good to me.
"I guess you do have a slight chance. But man. It ain't looking good."
This is still not the opinion of people who have spent a lot of time canvassing all available information. Yikes all the same.
ON ASSISTANT SALARIES. USA Today published a database of assistant salaries, which promises to be more useful than the head coach listings. Head coaches have erratic, large bonuses that cause big swings. Those kinds of things are much rarer with assistants.
Michigan was 9th in overall assistant compensation with a relatively unbalanced structure: both coordinators were 800k+, recruiting coordinator Jeff Hecklinski was just under 300k, and everyone else around 240k. LSU was #1 in overall compensation with both coordinators at 1.3 million and their lowest-paid dude at 310.
M is almost two million dollars behind LSU in annual compensation(!). They're right on par with OSU, FWIW. Mississippi State is a million dollars back of M, on par with Colorado, Maryland, Rutgers… and Wisconsin.
Upshot: unless there's a big shift Michigan is going to be able to pay on par with everyone else. There's enough money to pay a big time coordinator for the other side of the ball if M goes with a Narduzzi/Herman type.
PLAN B. Here's a weird-ass name I don't fully believe but know they're kicking around at some level inside the department: Marvin Lewis. The Bengals are currently at the top of the AFC North but Lewis has been on precarious ground for a while now—he got a one-year extension just before this season and would likely have to be extended again. The Bengals have been on the verge of a change there for a long time. Lewis comes with all the usual NFL hangups but at his age (57) he would likely be retiring at a hypothetical college job.
Wouldn't put too much into that since a boatload of names get kicked around, but if Cinci does fire the guy keep an eye on him.
Beyond that, I've heard that you shouldn't take reports that so-and-so college coach isn't interested at all seriously. That's a good general rule. It is a better one in this specific case. I know that people who have supposedly ruled themselves out have done no such thing and would welcome sincere post-Harbaugh interest from M.