As the end of the 2014 season comes into sight, it is time to start looking into the future of the Michigan football program. And that future will likely be figured out in the next month as the Brady Hoke era looks to be coming to an end and the pursuit of Jim Harbaugh picks up.
Every day closer to the end of the season brings another rumor. So, I have decided to put together the latest news and rumors surrounding Michigan’s pursuit of Harbaugh.
Go Blue Wolverine\’s guru Sam Webb is, likely, the most trustworthy name surrounding Michigan coverage on and off the field. He had a lot of information on the subject including one part that stood out the most to me. It\’s the fact that Harbaugh wants total control of his program ($), adding:
“I was told that Harbaugh would want to be the one making decisions on and off the field for his program. So disciplinary action, statements about policy or conduct, etc… he wants to make the calls on things like that and not have those calls made for him.”
This is one very big reason why I believe Harbaugh would rather come to Michigan than take over the, rumored NFL favorite, Oakland Raiders. Everyone knows about their front office problems.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 16, 2014
Then there is Ian Rapoport\’s report that Jim\’s wife, Sarah Harbaugh, wants to stay in the Bay Area, which he took as him heading to the Raiders. However, if Jim really wants the Michigan gig, I doubt his wife would kill his dream to return to his home just to stay surrounded by warmer weather 12 months out of the year. But that\’s only something that Jim and Sarah really know.
Just to mess with the fan base\’s heart, Rapoport came out just minutes later and had this pro-Harbaugh to Michigan saying super UofM booster Stephen Ross wants Jim to coach the Wolverines more than his Miami Dolphins. That\’s very good news because money makes a lot of decisions at Michigan and Ross is one of, if not, the most powerful collegiate donors in the world.
247Sports\’ Steve Lorenz put together a great Victors\’ Vault on Harbaugh ($), which included two big points. One, there are no more burnt bridges or \”factions\” between Harbaugh and any other regents, adding:
\”In fact, without giving too much away, we can say that former players and coaches are in unified belief that Jim Harbaugh should be the first phone call and top target for the Michigan job.\”
Lorenz also was in touch with a \”direct contact with Harbaugh\” and had this to report:
\”While nothing concrete was said, the belief from that source is that \”part of Jim wants to be back in Ann Arbor\”.\”
I don\’t think anyone believes Jim is ok with the current Wolverine football program and would like to come back and be the savior. However, this is a business and a huge family decision. So, the money will need to be among the best in football history and someone will have to sway Mrs. Harbaugh.
And then there\’s what Gregg Henson had to say:
Wow, I just talked to a guy (who knows) that Harbaugh is already discussing coaches he wants to hire in A2. — Gregg Henson (@GreggHenson) November 16, 2014
Henson was the first to report that Michigan would land Harbaugh and is sticking to his guns. If true, this is very exciting stuff.
In terms of who some of the coaches may be that Harbaugh would bring with him, one popular name that Go Blue Wolverine\’s Tom Beaver ($) was saying Harbaugh has \”very high regard for him, considers him a mentor\” is LSU offensive coordinator and former Michigan GA, Cam Cameron.
Updated: November 26th
When we last left off, the chance of Jim Harbaugh possibly returning to coach Michigan was starting to gain steam. And now, things are picking up even more thanks to the (likely) last game under Hoke taking place this weekend.
First, Jim Harbaugh himself decided to throw out former Michigan coaching legend and coach of Harbaugh, Bo Schembechler\’s most famous quote in the 49ers post game press conference this past weekend: \”The Team, The Team, The Team\”.
One big rumored hurdle holding Harbaugh back from Michigan was his relationships with people at the University. His comments about the academics for the football program while coaching Stanford rubbed some people the wrong way, especially former Michigan head coach L\’loyd Carr. According to Steve Lorenz at 247Sports ($), those problems have been cleared up:
\”We\’ve confirmed with a few different sources that any animosities between former Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr and Harbaugh have been mended\”
Speaking of Coach Carr, Detroit Sports Rag\’s Jeff Moss broke this rumor on the same day:
DSR RUMOR: Hearing that the U of M version of Jay Leno (Lloyd Carr) is trying to act as a liaison between U of M and Jim Harbaugh’s camp.
— Jeff Moss (@JeffMossDSR) November 26, 2014
There has also been rumors out there (mostly from the national analysts) that say Harbaugh could be using the Michigan job and high salary as \”leverage\” to get more money from another NFL team. Here\’s what Gregg Henson had to say about that:
\”My sources say Jim isn’t really that concerned about running away from San Francisco to the highest bidder, he wants the right situation and proper control of his next team. BUT, he does want a respectable offer from his next employer.\”
Speaking of the guys who think Harbaugh would never leave the NFL for college, 247Sports\’ Lorenz ($) was able to speak to an NFL source who thinks Harbaugh would be interested and that interim AD Jim Hackett is the right guy to give the pitch:
\”One NFL source that we talked to believes it\’s a real possibility, and that at the very, very least, he will listen and has legitimate interest. That same person also said that Jim Hackett may be the man with the best chance to convince Harbaugh to come to Michigan, and it may be why they\’re being patient with the athletic director process.\”
\”But what if Harbaugh stays in the NFL, who are some other top rumored options?\” Some of the names that are being thrown around include Nick Saban (via Marcus Ray ($)), Bob Stoops (via Steve Lorenz($)), John Harbaugh (via Ian Rapaport), and even Mike Shanahan (Washington Post). But there is one name that keeps popping up more than any other as the 2nd option behind Jim Harbaugh, and that is former Michigan offensive lineman and current LSU coach, Les Miles. Once again, 247\’s Steve Lorenz ($) had the sources:
\”It\’s been a lot of back and forth regarding what Miles would do, but what we\’ve gathered lately is that he would take the Michigan job.\”
Personally, I don\’t mind the idea of Les Miles for a couple of years. Even though he\’s older, Miles a very good coach who has won a National Championship, two SEC Championships, holds a 130-47 record as a head coach, has produced 63 NFL draft picks, including 14 first rounders, and loves the University of Michigan. He even said it again in his latest news conference where he was asked, once again, about the Michigan job opening (via MLive.com) :
\”I have given little or no thought to any other jobs, and I am so comfortable with my team and doing what I\’m doing,\” he replied. \”I do not read the paper. I certainly respect and love Michigan and wish them the very best.\”
With LSU\’s struggles this year, this is the perfect timing for Miles to jump at the Michigan job. The problem is whether or not he\’d officially receive the offer. There are even more fences to fix between Les and the people at Michigan. We\’ll just have to wait and see if Michigan\’s willing to wait for Harbaugh. If not, Hackett may be taking a trip to the Bayou.
UPDATED: November 30th
Last time we left off, the rumors of both Harbaugh and Miles were starting to gain even more steam. And things haven\’t changed with the end of the season. The first piece of news/rumors comes from Les Miles, who decided to show his true colors aka his love for the Maize and Blue with a tweet during the Michigan-OSU game:
Geaux Blue!!…. Beat em in the Horseshoe!!! — Les Miles (@LSUCoachMiles) November 29, 2014
That obviously caused an uproar among the CFB Twittersphere since LSU is coming off a very rough year and this is very likely the last chance Miles could (possibly) have at taking over his alma mater.
But back to the #1 target, Mr. Jim Harbaugh.
The latest big news comes from the NFL world, which multiple sources are saying the 49ers are looking to sign Harbaugh to an extension and trade him to the highest bidder.
Report: The 49ers could try to trade head coach Jim Harbaugh; Raiders & Jets possible landing spots http://t.co/VEA2mjRPiR
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 30, 2014
With the news of the possible trade out there, things are not all bad. The Mercury News\’ Tim Kawakami has more information on the possibility of a trade and JH\’s options:
I don\’t think the 49ers would look for that much in a potential Jim Harbaugh trade. Something less than a 1st-rounder, probably… — Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) November 30, 2014
The possible complication is that I doubt Jed York wants to see Harbaugh coaching the Raiders. So trade talks could get problematic.
— Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) November 30, 2014
And the best news for Michigan fans on the edge of their seats:
Harbaugh\’s contract is with the 49ers. He can force them to let him coach it out in 2015 or fire him. Can\’t trade him w/out his permission. — Tim Kawakami (@timkawakami) November 30, 2014
On Fox\’s NFL Sunday, Jay Glazer said San Francisco would not fire him during the season since they are trying to move him. Go Blue Wolverine\’s Sam Webb, has some of the best sources in the program and had a lot of information on what\’s going on. His Harbaugh source let him know ($):
\”he spoke with Harbaugh last night and that after that conversation he now fears that the Jets would be the biggest threat because the talk is they\’d be willing to give Harbaugh coach AND GM duties. Any franchise offering to give Harbaugh that level of control will increase they\’re chances in the race.\”
To back up the news, Michigan alum and NFL reporter Adam Schefter chimed in on who\’s interested:
One NFL source convinced Raiders are the favorite to trade for HC Jim Harbaugh, but Jets also known to be keeping a close eye on situation. — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 30, 2014
Go Blue Wolverine\’s Tom Beaver has reported that a \”little birdie\” let him know that Michigan has briefly contacted Jim ($). It was brief but it looks like the idea wasn\’t dismissed. He had more information on that meeting, here ($).
To keep the Harbaugh news flowing, Webb went on and answered fan questions regarding the coaching situation and JH\’s interest ($), which included:
- Hoke has not been informed of his fate, yet.
- A decision could/should come Monday or Tuesday before their team meeting.
- Harbaugh is a great fit, but not the only fit.
With Harbaugh still in season, Miles looking ready to jump ship and Hoke\’s fate not 100% decided.