Harbaugh: Doing It His Way

Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Jim Harbaugh has been anything but boring since returning to the collegiate ranks. He brought Michigan back to the double-digit win mark in his first season and is now making headlines with his antics on the recruiting trail. Some are not happy about Harbaugh’s recruiting methods but there is precedent for what he is doing.

During this last recruiting push before national signing day (February 3rd) Harbaugh has done just about everything one could imagine.

He’s tried to climb a tree

Had a ‘Netflix & Chill’ night

and even sleepovers.

While the jury is still out on if these tactics worked (getting a recruit to commit doesn’t mean he’ll be a contributing player) it has ruffled some feathers especially to those recruits who’s scholarship commitments he pulled.

 of the Detroit Free Press wrote a great piece about how recruits, opposing coaches and even writers are upset about Harbaugh pulling scholarship offers from long standing commitments.

While it appears harsh it is not without precedent. Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville literally walked out of dinner with recruits while at Texas Tech to take the job at Cincinnati. Later, he and his staff pulled scholarship offers once they arrived.

And this is at a non-Power five school!

While some recruits should be angry about the how they were treated by Harbaugh, Tuberville and others, this is a cutthroat business after all. Coaches get paid millions to win NOW. While we’d like to think that coaches are there to educate and develop young men, bottom line is they have to win to keep their jobs and sometimes even that isn’t enough.

Is a coach going to pull offer from kid A and give it to kid B if he feels kid B gives him a better chance of winning? Damn right he is. There are only so many scholarships to go around after all. Let’s also not forget, these scholarships are for a year and can be revoked. It’s cold blooded but it’s the system that has been allowed to grow due to the money that is involved with college football.

The good side, it’s life lesson kids are learning early. Just because you are qualified doesn’t mean you get the job. Just because everyone likes doesn’t mean you won’t be let go in a round of layoffs. Just because you have an offer doesn’t mean that the you are set for the next four years.

Harbaugh has a track record of winning in college and in the NFL. He clearly knows what he’s doing and the type of player he believes will help him win at Michigan. Like it, don’t like it but you see how the San Francisco 49ers did after he left. At the very least he’s entertaining and giving us something to write about besides “what school will this “5 star” kid select?” when we all know that this kid may never make any kind of impact for the school he signed with.

 

The Silly Season

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Some people call the last week of November and the first two weeks of December the “Silly Season.” Why? It’s when the college football media explodes into a frenzy of speculation over which college football coach will be fired and hired.

Hot jobs and hot coaches vary year to year. The best example of that is former Florida International Head Coach Mario Cristobal. Cristobal was let go after a 3-9 season. The two previous years he led FIU to bowl games and even tied for first place in the Sun Belt conference. He was considered one of the hottest coach’s in the college football head coaching rumor mill last season. Now he’s out of a job.

This years hot name was Louisville’s Charlie Strong. He led Louisville to a co-Big East Championship and BCS Bowl berth in his third season at the helm. Strong eventually turned down a reported $4 million a year from the University of Tennessee to remain at Louisville. His reasoning and passion are very evident as you can see in his speech to the media and fans.

A name that was not on anyone’s list but at least he thought he’d keep his job was John Embree at Colorado. He’s was let go after two season’s at his alma mater. There is an argument about what the biggest surprise was, Brett Bielema’s move from Wisconsin to Arkansas or Tommy Tuberville’s move from Texas Tech to Cincinnati.

Arguably the “best” job available this year was the head coaching position at the University of Tennessee. After several subpar years (four losing seasons in the last five years to be exact) Athletic Director Dave Hart went looking for someone to bring back the glory days to the Volunteer Nation.

Apparently Hart was turned down by former Super Bowl winning coach and current Monday Night Football analyst Jon Gruden. After he said no Hart then turned his attention to Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy and Charlie Strong. Both ended up saying no but not before the folks at Tennessee believed fully that Strong was their guy. The belief was so strong that people were tweeting the plane tail number of Tennessee’s major donor Jimmy Haslam claiming that the plane was either on it’s way to pick up Charlie Strong or was on it’s way back with him. After all the false hope Tennessee, the supposed best available job in college football, was still vacant and the Volunteer Nation was left wondering, “would former coach Phil Fulmer come back?”

By Friday morning Tennessee found it’s guy with the hiring of Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones. Jones was also ending his own coaching interview tour. He interviewed and turned down the jobs at Purdue and Colorado respectfully. He and Hart met for the first time Thursday evening in Lexington, Ky which would be about the mid point between Knoxville and Cincinnati. Around 5:45am Jones informed his Athletic Director that he was going to Tennessee and at 2:30pm EST he was formally introduced as Tennessee’s twenty-third head coach.

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He and Hart apparently hadn’t slept and until Thursday had never spoken about the coaching position.

With the “best” job filled and other potential candidates signing long term extensions you can see why it’s called the “Silly Season.”

As of Sunday December 9th the following head coaching positions are still available:

Wisconsin, Texas Tech, Colorado, Louisiana Tech, Arkansas St., FIU, Kent St, Southern Miss, Temple, Western Kentucky, and Western Michigan.

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