Unharbaugh Vorharbaugh

Submitted by Brian on December 29th, 2014 at 5:36 PM

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

I mean:

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:

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.



December 29th, 2014 at 5:48 PM ^

I think I'm dreaming. On second thought, don't.

Tonight is going to feel like Christmas Eve--when I was 8. What a triumph for the Michigan football program and JH himself. I can hardly believe it's happening.


December 29th, 2014 at 6:04 PM ^

why Harbaugh is doing this and that is unforgivable from a journalistic standpoint. It's your job as a columnist to analyze events at a deeper level,  NFL beat writer. It;s your job to see the video ON ESPN where Harbaugh says Ann Arbor was his favorite place to live. It's your job to look for any references to Bo or Michigan by Harbaugh.(Not a real difficult task)

Clearly, Michigan means a lot to Jim Harbaugh and that is an aspect of the story that ought to have been thoroughly investigated.

Anyone can report the news. What readers want to know is WHY an event has happened. In this you have failed us, NFL Insiders. The sad part is that this was easy to see. 

Just a really bad performance by those journalists who cover the NFL. Embarrassingly bad actually.

Brady Elliott

December 29th, 2014 at 6:42 PM ^

I think you hit a major point there. Anyone could have easily done some digging to try and figure out the kind of man Jim Harbaugh is and his past relationship with Michigan. When I was telling my spartan father-in-law about the possibility of Harbaugh to Michigan, his response was that he would be shocked if Harbaugh came to Michigan. That response (and so many others) didn't take into account the uniqueness of the University of Michigan, Jim's personal ties to Michigan, and his families' ties to Michigan. Very few people really know what makes Jim Harbaugh tick, but just a cursory glance at Jim Harbaugh as a person would lead one to think that maybe, just maybe, he is in the coaching profession for more than $ and glamour. It's amazing that no one even seemed to try and research any of the above.


December 29th, 2014 at 6:14 PM ^

These idiot so called insiders are clueless to the fact that until they admit they were way off ( which they will not) that every time they open their mouths they come off as smart as the ohio graduate ringing your doorbell to collect the 20 dollar bill plus tip (until you learn he's an ohio graduate) for the pizza! Listening to Adam S. At espn hanging onto the so called NFL possibilities is absolutely laughable on the highest levels erroneousness!! As usual; excellent work Brian! Looking forward to the staffing search threads! (not sure if I used the word threads properly, I'm no computer savvy savant Lol) GO BLUE!!!


December 29th, 2014 at 6:18 PM ^

After being so used to nothing going right for Michigan football and being told over and over again for like 4-5 years that Harbaugh would never come, it's a bit surreal that he's going to be introduced as HC tomorrow.


December 29th, 2014 at 6:41 PM ^

Don't have a ticket for tomorrow afternoon's game but seriously considering showing up early, tailgating, and watching the game on my cell phone in the parking lot.


December 29th, 2014 at 7:00 PM ^

I would post a board if I had enough points, so maybe someone can, or maybe it can be discussed here.

I was as tentative to downright horrified about the prospect of Jim Hackett possibly hiring our next coach after the Brandon dismissal. But he has obviously done an admirable job and should be recognized for the hire.

Another discussion that I have not seen on here(beyond the sb nation 5 things link), that I think needs to be appreciated is the potential for a Harbaugh/ Dantonio war that will cause Dantonio's hipster beanie covered dome to explode.

How long until Dantonio references "little brother" and Harbaugh asks about the last NFL game he played? Last Super Bowl? Gets into a shoving match? Who knows, but something will happen.



December 29th, 2014 at 7:01 PM ^


Will be multiplying in favor of the U in 2015.  Not just because we'll have got Schlissel (most important) and Harbs & Co. (close second), but because there is renewed emphasis by the powers that be why Michigan must step up game to remain elite. Being a demonstrable winner is a quality of its own. Go Blue!


CRISPed in the DIAG

December 29th, 2014 at 7:04 PM ^

I love the old CBS clip of the "guarantee" when Michigan runs out of the tunnel at Ohio Stadium to boos with their fists in the air.  Shouts of "LET'S GO" and "C'MON" and...confidence.  That was a battle-tested group.

His Dudeness

December 29th, 2014 at 7:43 PM ^

This is awesome.

I think the time Jim was at SF were great times for everyone until the GM had a "look at me" moment. He thought Jim was getting too much of the glory for the team he felt he put together. No question the team had talent, but a good GM doesnt need the glory.

It is a shame that the SF thing didnt work out. I mean that in a way that I think Jim was truly happy there and would have stayed forever if he could.

I think he will find (again) that Ann Arbor is an amazing place and he and his family will be completely happy here for years to come.

I'm so so so so so happy.

It's great to be a Michigan Wolverine.

Cheers all.



December 29th, 2014 at 8:02 PM ^

I can picture JH sleeping in his bed in his Bay Area home tossing and turning relentlessly while hearing vivid voices of Bo to awaken in a sweat with a ghost of Bo standing at the foot of his bed much like Babe Ruth visited Benny the jet Rodriguez in the Sandlot and Bo saying "it's time jimmy, it's time to come on home...remember Jimmy..heroes get remembered, but LEGENDS

Never die!!


December 29th, 2014 at 8:06 PM ^

I haven't been this excited for Michigan football in a long, long time. Brian, thank you for the high quality reporting, and for maintaining integrity throughout this process in a way that many other could not. Here's to 2015 being a better year for Michigan Athletics. Go Blue!


December 29th, 2014 at 9:04 PM ^

that type of statement works when it's a challenge/message to your own team.  (Harbaugh 86 or Tressel 01.)

It's counterproductive when it's bravado that's aimed at creating/supporting a pregame perception in medialand that your side is better.  (Terry Glenn 95: "Michigan is nothing." ;  David Boston 1997:  "I think we're better than Michigan. If our offense and defense are clicking, we should win by two or three touchdowns." )

I don't see the purpose behind issuing that type of public challenge right now.  (The team has got to be jacked.)  Save it for when it's needed.



December 29th, 2014 at 9:41 PM ^

Jim Harbaugh prefers the NFL as a whole over College Football. The thing is, he's not returning for any regular collegiate football team. He's returning to the place he grew up, the place his dad worked, the place he became a star, the place that helped shape him into the person he is today. He may prefer the NFL over the NCAA, but there's no way he prefers the NFL over the University of Michigan. I'm not sure why most NFL reporters cant understand the difference.

Hugh Jass

December 29th, 2014 at 9:41 PM ^

has been my favorite Christmas gift!  I have been on it  50 times and have a big smile on my face everytime.  Merry Christmas to me.


Just curious - hope this is making money for Brian and MGOBLOG what with all the people logging on - sponsors will have to pay more to advertise......


December 29th, 2014 at 10:00 PM ^

I belive like BO, Jim Harbaugh has the heart of a Champion....

BO could have gone to Texas A&M for more money....but he did NOT...he loved Michigan that much.

I am hoping Jim Harbaugh has that same love for Michigan, when the next BIG offer comes along.



Mo Better Blues

December 29th, 2014 at 10:46 PM ^

NOMNOMNOM -- I find my own words absolutely delectable. After such disappointment in recent years, I was highly skeptical about the wisdom of the Hackett hire -- NOM.

I was skeptical about Schlissel's commitment to approving the layout of cash commensurate with a coach of Jimmy's abilities -- NOM.

I was skeptical (to the point of believing it almost an unhealthy delusion) of the possibility we could land Jimmy -- NOM. (OK, I suppose in my defense against...myself...when asked straight-up who I thought would be the next coach when Brady was all but a dead man walking, my inner-Decatur diehard recklessly proclaimed, "F*ck it. We're gonna get Harbaugh.") 

Generally, I hate being wrong. Today? If being wrong is wrong, I don't wanna be right. Man, this is...I just...wowza. GO BLUE.

(Now, just gotta, y'know, win A LOT of games. Got this feeling we just re-claimed that ol' Michigan Bullseye on our backs. But those were simpler, happier times. Mostly.)