Brian December 12th, 2014 at 11:50 AM

HARBAUGH HARBAUGH HARBAUGH. All silent, aside from random NFL scouts lambasting the search and asserting that Harbaugh is not leaving the NFL ever-ever. It's a leap to go from "Michigan seems to be taking an exceptionally long time" to "there is no reason this could be, therefore Michigan is clownfraud."

The very fact that Michigan hasn't hired, or come close to hiring anyone, is evidence enough that they are waiting for definitive word on Harbaugh. And then you have everyone who talks to anyone inside the Michigan program saying that very loudly. Michigan may not get the guy, but it won't be because he turned Michigan down two weeks ago.

The only movement yesterday was a brief explosion of optimism last night based on a post from the very edge of the internet that got deleted once it was passed around, but not before the echo chamber went into full effect. No idea how seriously to take that. It does sound like certain people on the inside are beginning to believe it's really happening.


ON WHITTINGHAM. With the exception of Sam Webb, listening to talk radio guys is never advisable. 97.1's Jeff Riger just re-confirmed that yesterday by asserting that Kyle Whittingham was literally in Ann Arbor, a claim debunked a few hours later when Whittingham showed up at his previously-scheduled team meeting.

Like the Brandt thing, this was obviously untrue on its face: Michigan was never going to fire off an offer to Cutcliffe at this stage of their search, and sitting head coaches do not fly to towns with open jobs. These meetings take place in airports until it's time for a press conference, and again there is no way Michigan fills this job until they get a definitive answer from Harbaugh.

ALSO IN RE: WHITTINGHAM. I've heard there may have been some actual family issues involved with Gary Andersen's departure to Corvallis: namely, Andersen is Mormon and it's possible they were having a tough time adjusting to Madison. That's a reason Michigan and Mendenhall or Whittingham are unlikely to hook up.

I mean: these are two very successful coaches who haven't had so much as a sniff at bigger jobs. Utah blew out Alabama to go undefeated in 2008 and then went 10-3 the next two years and nobody so much as flirted with the guy. It is really hard to get coaches out of the state of Utah.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE HOT DOGS? Sean Payton strongly denied any rumors that he'd be somewhere other than New Orleans, correctly dubbing them "silly":

Asked at his press conference today about the possibility that he might step down following this season, Payton said, “Absolutely no way.”

Payton said he is aware that there’s been speculation that he wants to leave New Orleans, but Payton added, “It’s silly. It won’t happen.”

I don't care what insiders said X or Y about Payton's availability. The ghost of Bo could appear to me and tell me Payton was the guy and I would say "he has an eight million dollar contract until 2018, Bo—y'all be crazy." If the Saints decide to pull the ripcord on the best coach in their history thanks to one bad year and eat what I assume is a simply massive buyout, then we are getting to the realm of vague plausibility. Until that highly unlikely event transpires, "silly" is the kind way to put it.

These last two items are me getting exercised about people reporting things without considering how likely they are outside of "I herd it from mah dudez". I heard the weirdass Marvin Lewis thing and told you, but I also mentioned it was weirdass and I didn't expect anything to come of it.

NEVERMIND THE CHEESEOFF. Wisconsin takes under 24 hours to hire Paul Chryst, removing the admittedly remote possibility Michigan and Wisconsin would go after the same guy. Hilariously, a source says "I thought this would be the scenario from Day 1" on Day 1.

Alvarez is going through the "public posting" kabuki but it's done, according to everyone.

THIS IS NEWS FOR SOME REASON. Michigan sent out a release this morning stating that they've hired Korn Ferry as their search firm for 80-250k. Why Michigan would tell people this now (they've been working with the firm since Hoke got cashiered) and why people would repeat it out loud remains a mystery to me. Hackett said he'd be employing a search firm and everyone pretty much knew who that would be once he said said search firm would be familiar with Michigan.

It's a thing you can tweet, I guess.

Reactions have mostly fallen into one of two camps. One: "let me google that for you." Two: "lol these guys hired Brandon and Hoke." I agree with #1. Not so much #2. Brandon was a locked-in insider candidate after being a regent and helping hire Mary Sue Coleman (see Coleman's going-away present of a six-year guaranteed contract); Hoke was a locked-in insider candidate that Brandon was going to hire no matter who the search firm was after Harbaugh went with the 49ers.

All those guys do is give you a list of vetted names; Michigan's screwups are their own. That was supposed to be more reassuring than it ended up being.

WE MIGHT EVEN PASS ON JAY GRUDEN. ESPN Insider's rumor mill thing picks up the RealGM "nugget" on Jay Gruden's supposed interest in Michigan, then mentions that there's another guy out there:

Former UM quarterback and current San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh is another name that has come up often for the Wolverines job in recent weeks, and given Harbaugh's ties to the program and the likelihood that his days in SF are just about over, it's reasonable to believe that he could be the school's No. 1 coaching target, even ahead of Gruden. 

This insight is available for just a few dollars a month.

FAN PECKING ORDER. 24/7 ran a series of polls asking their users about whether coaching candidates would be okay. The results:

  1. Harbaugh (95% yes)
  2. Stoops (89%)
  3. Miles (81%)
  4. Mora (77%)
  5. Mullen (69%)
  6. Herman (49%)
  7. Bielema (46%)
  8. Narduzzi (41%)
  9. Cutcliffe (41%)
  10. Whittingham (34%)
  11. Gundy (29%)
  12. Schiano (14%)
  13. Addazio (12%)

Gundy is a huge surprise down there. Addazio not so much.

Etc.: More on the role this advisory committee thing is playing. Sam says Les Miles's age isn't going to be a hindrance($) to his candidacy and that the search is apparently narrowed to four guys($), though which four is unclear. Miles and Harbaugh are amongst them; past that nobody knows.



December 12th, 2014 at 1:52 PM ^

The list in that article is a 4+1.

The 4 are Harbaugh, Miles, Mora, and Payton. The +1 is Addazio with the knowledge that he is behind Miles for sure, and that the job will not get by Miles.


If that is a TRUE final 4, and the opening is filled with one of them, I wouldn't complain at all.


December 12th, 2014 at 12:47 PM ^

We really don't.  If we get a good coach, getting him on Jan 6th (which is my birthday so that would be awesome) will be just as good as now.  Not a lot of recruiting will happen between now and then anyway, and it's a small class.  I want to get a good coach that will win with our talent, and the recruiting will follow.  Let's not let recruiting impact our decision here even 1%.


December 12th, 2014 at 1:05 PM ^

Every uneducated mouth breather I know in Columbus who wants to say Michigan' search is going poorly points to recruiting. I say "It's a small class and this is going exactly how the interim AD said it would. How is this a disaster?" I may start calling them uneducated mouth breathers. But I do have to work with them. Damn mouth breathers.


December 12th, 2014 at 12:17 PM ^

"it's reasonable to believe that he could be the school's No. 1 coaching target, even ahead of Gruden."

I was going to post the "You don't say" meme but this isn't even worthy of that. Anyone wondering whether Jay Gruden is in the same echelon as Harbaugh is incredibly out of touch with everything and is probably stupid


December 12th, 2014 at 12:18 PM ^

 claim he has not made up his mind. If that is the case, forget about him coming to Michigan. The tug of MIchigan should be strong enough for him to have committed to Michigan. By all indications that is not the case. CLaiming to be on the fence only supports the view his interest is not that strong.

BTW, if he has been reading MIchigan football blogs with everyone agreeing he will be the savior of Michigan football and expectations off the charts I have to believe he may be thinking no matter what I do I will not meet those expecatations.


December 12th, 2014 at 1:25 PM ^

him to consider. He is accustomed to winning and in accepting the Michigan job he knows he will be a few years behind OSU and MSU. That is how much damage has been done to this program. Fan and alumni expectations are he will turn it around almost immediately. It isn't and can't happen that fast.

He won at the University of San Diego because he had a gifted QB that played in the NFL (Johnson). At Stanford he had Andrew Luck. At the 49'ers, he took over a very talented team which management felt were Super Bowl contenders.

Michigan does not have a QB and for him to coach one will require at least two years if not more time. The team is short on talent compared to OSU and MSU. 

In short, he will not be walking into a good situation and he knows it.


December 12th, 2014 at 12:26 PM ^

Yes, clearly if he doesn't feel the "tug" of Michigan strongly enough right now that he can leap at an opportunity without even knowing, let alone considering, his options in the NFL, that means that its all over.  Everybody panic!


Also, the guy is so busy and focused that he hasn't been able to take the time to decide where he wants to go.... but I'm sure he's got time to read the comments section of mgoblog!  And THAT, more than anything else, is going to take precidence over what he wants his legacy to be, compensation, control, etc.




December 12th, 2014 at 12:38 PM ^

with the only hope being that he'd will not give up on SF until they give up on him. I think if he was absolutely in he'd have a season finishing run (however long) but make it clear he's coming. The only reason not to is to avoid being fired because, again, it's still his team. It's how the guy is. However, the fact that but even his closest friends know anything (it would have leaked by now) leads me to think the UM pull isn't enough now and won't be if Pete Carroll is the guy that all but officially (maybe officially) ends his tenure in SF. I don't think he'd leave the NFL on that note. If he stays, he'll never coach at Michigan. IMO, this is the last chance for Miles (esp) and Jim. Now, even more than after Stanford, is the best time for Jim. If he gets a ring in the NFL he's never going back to CFB. If he doesn't in the next 5 years I doubt we ask again, assuming the next hire even fails which is what we don't want Harbaugh or not. If Jim says no, that once in a generation great alum will have never coached here. As for Miles, his age along with personal issues make this hire his last chance should he be offered. If both decline (I think at least one will, if not both) we better have a great 3rd option ready to go on a couple day notice or it's another failure. Trying hard but missing on both Jim & Les doesn't necessarily = failure but not having a great 3rd option does. I'm going for Jim but I'm already mentally down to Miles and the next guy after.


December 13th, 2014 at 9:54 AM ^

will not allow the thought "this job will be too big for me" to enter their mind. Nor will they think a situation too challenging, too messed up, too far gone for redemption if it's a place they really want to coach. If coaches reasoned 'reasonably', Brady Hoke would've said he wasn't ready for U-M and didn't want to fix the mess.

If blogs and sports pundits can teeter someone's decisions one way or another, I probably don't want that guy on my sideline anyway.

Mr. Brownstone

December 12th, 2014 at 12:20 PM ^

By Harbaugh Im assuming everyone means Jim. Why not John? I cant believe he didnt even make the list. What will people's reaction be when they announce John Harbaugh instead of Jim as the next coach?


BTW....the job has been locked up for a while now. What a brilliant job Jim Hackett has done!


Go Blue!!! 


December 12th, 2014 at 12:22 PM ^

Somebody who's good with charty stuff needs to put together a chart summarizing all the asinine insidery predictions and assertions about Cutcliffe and Payton and Gruden and Lewis from and Gil Brandt and Jeff Riger and Jeff Moss so we can point and laugh.


December 12th, 2014 at 12:22 PM ^

But the transparency he's displayed in these posts is a fantastic example of what journalism should look like in the modern world.

These last two items are me getting exercised about people reporting things without considering how likely they are outside of "I herd it from mah dudez". I heard the weirdass Marvin Lewis thing and told you, but I also mentioned it was weirdass and I didn't expect anything to come of it.

This is a perfect and concise expression of what Brian's getting right and so many others are getting wrong. The role of the journalist used to be to filter out important data from the crap, and only pass on the important stuff to the public. In the age of the Internet, people are going to find a way to access all available information, crap and otherwise. Far too many "journalists" have used this as an excuse to report everything all the time always, when what they really should do is present the information in the context that it was received and indicate the level of faith they have in the accuracy of that information.

The WD email thing is a fantastic example of this, and Brian's handling of any seemingly-insider info he gets is also superb. As a former journalism student who switched majors partly because of how shitty the journalism landscape looked when I started working in it, kudos to the MGoBlog staff for doing such a great job.


December 12th, 2014 at 12:40 PM ^

Boy I couldnt agree with your post any more.  Wonderful write up.

One more thing to consider though in the flurry of "information" being disseminated and that is culturally we now ascribe equal value to all opinions - regardless of a person's background, education or intellengence (or in this case actual access to information).  All "opinions" are created equal.

It is considered very politically incorrect to discredit anyone's opinon on anything (case in point actors with strong opinions on issues they have zero background in being given a platform) so the media is reluctant to "filter" anything anymore.  So when someone with even a perepheral connection to football (forget trying to have a connection to Michigan) says "Jay Gruden is being considered by Michigan!" journalists are extremely relectant to even challenge the statement, much less not report it as fact.

Chitown Kev

December 12th, 2014 at 1:03 PM ^

Maybe...maybe one source if the source has proven extremely relable AND some of the information can be checked for accuracy.


Report and reconcile all available information, if at all possible. If it doesn't go beyond speculation, simply state that it's speculation.

I haven't studied journalism in about 10-15 years. But in the rush to get the scoop, reporters report on random rumors from twitter feeds as 100% fact.




December 12th, 2014 at 1:50 PM ^

You're right, but... reporters are under extreme pressure to deliver content through several media. That's why Angelique shits out a quick rewrite of Michigan's search firm press release, even though it's not even newsworthy. You have to feed the beast and that particular topic - the Michigan coaching search - drives page views like a motherfucker. I don't envy most of them. The guy who posted the Gruden note, though, whoa. Look closer at those trees, fella, you might see the forest.

M Fanfare

December 12th, 2014 at 12:26 PM ^

From reading the local media in Utah, the buzz is that Bronco Mendenhall could be looking around for a different job. BYU went independent under the delusion that it would instantly turn them into a western Notre Dame, and surprisingly that hasn't panned out. Their fans are also stuck in the 1980s mindset when their teams were a national power (not surprising since their quarterbacks were Jim McMahon, Steve Young, and Ty Detmer). This season turning to ruins after they lost their qb, combined with outsized expectations, have left lots of BYU fans clamoring for a coaching change.

tl;dr Mendenhall might actually be available, unlike Whittingham.

I wouldn't want him though. Michigan has plenty of better targets.


December 12th, 2014 at 12:26 PM ^

I read part of his twitter feed. Good Lord, I've seen OSU partisans less unhinged about Michigan. This guy was being insulting about mis-reporting on a rumor. 

The_Mad Hatter

December 12th, 2014 at 12:32 PM ^

But he's a very young 61.  Dude looks and acts like he's in his mid 40's tops.

If he comes here and keeps winning, they'll be wheeling him out onto the field 20 years from now.



December 12th, 2014 at 1:16 PM ^

does anyone else feel like UM should be playing on real grass again? Ok, not the torn up mud clump mess by week 6 we used to have but why couldn't we use some of that delicious facility money to lay down a base that can support a grass field below ground level? I just prefer it and it feels more Michigan to me. That semi poor job they did for the soccer game this Summer had me nostalgia bombed for the good stuff: that sweet sweet dark firmdale. Tough. Thin blades but thick and giving but not too much. I want grass again and I'm sure Les would, too. Am I alone?


December 12th, 2014 at 12:42 PM ^

That said, I have been convinced by some of Brian's concerns. He'll be recruiting in a less talent rich environment, and filtering those recruits through higher standards. He does show some Hoke like examples of lack of organization. 

That said, I don't think there's any question the guy would be an improvement and stands a good chance of at least normalizing things. 

But please Lord; Harbaugh. The synergy here would be just astounding. He stands the highest chances of turning us around. He gets the environment without being tethered by its past. I'll go so far as to say it makes the B1G East a rough neighborhood, one that is nationally recognized with a resurgent UM; OSU under Urban, and MSU under Dantonio. If Penn State comes back, so much the better. 

Rough on the West though, unless some of those coaching changes really catch fire. 


December 12th, 2014 at 12:55 PM ^

Sure, he recruits in a talent-rich environment, but he also competes directly with Texas, TAMU, Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Georgia.  Those are heavy hitters and he wins on lots of top recruits.  And that's not because he had lots of Southern ties before he got there.  

Michigan doesn't have the talent that Louisiana has.  But they have far less local competition and they are able to cast a wider net.  Michigan can bring in LSU-level recruiting classes by focusing on MI and OH and grabbing kids from CA, MD/NJ, VA/NC or Texas a few times a year.


December 12th, 2014 at 1:14 PM ^

In terms of Rivals rank UM is already recruiting at LSU level - LSU has averaged 9 in Miles tenure, UM 11 in the same time frame.  That is with 2 coaching changes at UM.

Now I happen to think a lot of 3 stars from Florida or Texas are better than a 4 star from OH or PA but that's me but if you take it for face value there is a nominal difference.

Also a Les hire would open up UM to the South's talent base which he has been recruiting for 14 years at OK State and LSU.  That is very important to me to improve our recruits because again I think a 4 star from the deep south is better than most 4 stars from IL or PA.  Competition is simply better down there.



December 12th, 2014 at 12:39 PM ^

Korn Ferry also worked with Texas (for $266K) in the Saban/Strong search, PSU for O'Brian, USC with Sark, KC Chiefs with Andy Reid, etc.  It's just easy to be folks who are negative and say "oh Hoke and Brandon haha".

And if Whittingham came to UM as a plan B candidate, he'd be a lot more of a sure thing than Dan Mullen or Tom Herman if we are going to the "guys who coached with Urban Meyer route".  He'd receive far and away the least fanfare however, but I could give a rats behind about that - dude can coach.