Webblog: U-M One Step Closer to Harbaugh?

What did Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett tell Michigan’s players during today’s teleconference? What’s the timeline for consummating a deal with Jim Harbaugh? We delve into those and other topic in today’s Webblog.

Anxious anticipation is at an all-time high on the streets of Ann Arbor. Everywhere you turn Michigan supporters seem confident that Jim Harbaugh will be the next football coach. Some are body claiming it “a done deal.”  Based on those strong Harbaugh trade winds in the rumor mill picked up ample steam in recent days.  The hottest one had Interim Michigan Athletic Director Jim Hackett’s interrupting his trip out West to conduct a conference call with the Michigan football team in order to announce the next football coach.

Here’s what we’ve found out…

  • Yes there was a conference call today this afternoon with the team.

  • The interaction was NOT impromptu.  It was one of a handful of regularly scheduled meetings Hackett promised the players he would have with them in the aftermath Brady Hoke’s firing. A few meetings were held prior to the players leaving for winter break, and two were to be held during winter break (one today and one a week from today).

According to sources with knowledge of today’s meeting…

  • The team was told that a coach has NOT been signed yet.

  • The team was NOT told that a decision was made as to who Michigan’s next coach will be.

We’ve separately confirmed that…

  • Recruits have NOT been told who Michigan’s next coach will be.

  • Michigan’s previous coaching staff has not been told either.

None of that should be interpreted as a degradation in Michigan’s position with Harbaugh. There is finally a consensus among national (specifically NFL) media and local media regarding the Maize & Blue’s strong standing in this race. (For the record I recently raised my odds of Michigan landing its #1 target to 70%).

Numerous former players are among the throng voices spreading the word that Harbaugh has verbally agreed to be the next coach of their alma mater.  While that certainly falls short of an official announcement, it’s definitely much more than just an encouraging sign. If we were to describe the current state of affairs in recruiting terms we’d classify Harbaugh as a silent commit.  So of course that means he isn’t a “done deal” until he signs his letter of intent.

That appears to be Michigan’s outlook at the moment. It’s the responsible stance considering the Wolverines past experiences.  Back in 2007 Michigan had a verbal agreement from Greg Schiano to be the next coach before he backed out. Then in 2011 some athletic department officials believed Harbaugh was set to be the next coach in Ann Arbor. Whether that belief was well placed or not is beside the point. The fact that it was/is even held lends to the current unwillingness to count chickens before they’re hatched.

Fast-forward back to present day and the timeline for consummating anything between the two sides is early next week. Sunday Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reported that the 49ers are slated to part ways with Harbaugh next Monday or Tuesday.  Those with knowledge of Michigan’s search previously pointed to January 1st as the date for the end of the waiting game for former Wolverine star. If that is still the cutoff point the timing make sense since the college options believed to be on Michigan’s radar (Dan Mullen, Jim Mora? Bob Stoops?) will be done with their bowl games. At that point the Wolverines’ pursuit of those and other options (Sean Payton? Marvin Lewis?) would rapidly intensify in hopes of sticking to Hackett’s promise to the team earlier this month to have a coach in place by the start of the winter term (January 7th). 

But if Michigan has its way, intensifying the pursuit of the secondary options won’t be necessary.

If Michigan has its way it will lock up its #1 option early next week.

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