First regarding the talk of Jim Hackett extending Jim Harbaugh a record contract offer that would make him the richest coach in college football by a significant margin... I’m told by sources on both sides of the ledger that such talk is just that. Talk. None of the sources that have been spot on in detailing the happenings of the last few months believe this to be true. Could Jim Hackett have made such a move clandestinely? I suppose. But then it probably would be circulating just as much in university circles as it is on message boards and twitter. It isn’t.
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t some positive momentum on the Harbaugh. The sentiment among some power brokers in Ann Arbor is that the perception of Harbaugh as “difficult” and “abrasive” is overstated. One such person is former athletic director Bill Martin. When I ran into him recently He spoke very openly to me about how much he “really likes Jim.” He shared a story about one of his interactions with Harbaugh not long after he took the helm at Stanford. Martin was interested in scheduling a game with the Cardinal, which Harbaugh was extremely excited about. They’d got as far as comparing open dates before discovering that they didn’t align. In those and other interactions Martin formed a very positive opinion of the former Michigan signal caller… an opinion he wasn’t bashful about sharing.
Another well-positioned source later co-signed Martin impression saying that word from the admissions office in Stanford is that Harbaugh was “a great guy to deal with.”
So while the narrative that Harbaugh is impossible to deal with continues to flow out of San Francisco, it’s not necessarily flowing into Ann Arbor.
Now for the negative momentum. The feeling of two sources that know and talk to Harbaugh (one of which has been actively selling the 49ers coach on the virtues of returning to Michigan) is that he isn’t likely to choose college over the pros. It’s a sentiment that has grown stronger over the past few days. Could it be that the rumored interest from multiple pro teams is having some influence? Possibly. That doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause and that Michigan won’t pursue him. It merely means that some that know him believe it is going to be more difficult than previously thought to pry him from the NFL.
Word on the Street.
The day brought rumblings from all over the country…
- A name that is rumored to be getting some play within the Michigan football family (surprisingly enough) is that of Mississippi State coach is Dan Mullen. His something-from-nothing performance in Starkville has apparently has raised some influential eyebrows. Add his name to the list of considerable.
- Word from Scout.com Mountain Region analyst Doug Kimmel is that the name of Utah coach Kyle Whittingham is being linked to Michigan. It wouldn’t be surprising if there was interest on his part since his name came up in the last search.
- Boston College’s Steve Addazio is a person of interest in Michigan’s search. He employs a similar offense to Michigan, he works at an academic institution, and would likely maintain some continuity for the players by keeping his former Florida colleague Greg Mattison on staff in Ann Arbor.
- If Jim Mcelwain doesn’t consummate his relationship with Florida anytime soon don’t be surprised if the Wolverines make an inquiry.
- Word on the street is despite state of Michigan ties, Butch Jones genuinely has little to no interest in leaving Tennessee. So drop him down board considerably.
- Greg Schiano’s tour of introspection and self-improvement is noteworthy. His ability to coach isn’t in question (thus Michigan’s attempt to hire him back in 2007), but a reputation for being extremely difficult to deal virtually destroyed his appeal to general managers and athletic directors. He has visited Ohio State, Alabama, the New England Patriots (to name a few stops) in an attempt to fix how he engages others in the course of doing his job. I’m not yet sure how much it increases his viability, but it has been certainly been noticed.
- An intriguing assistant coaching name that could vet thoroughly is that of Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.