Jim Harbaugh

Unlucky seven: Time for RichRod’s tenure to expire

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Given the fact that Ohio State came into the game favored by 17 points and were playing at home with yet another shot at a record-tying sixth-straight  Big Ten title, Michigan’s 30-point loss is not all that surprising.

What is surprising — and disheartening if you are a Wolverines fan — is how it transpired.  There was no fight, no spirit, no heart, no character, no nothing from nearly everyone clad in the iconic maize & blue.

And this wasn’t an early October game against Indiana; this was Ohio State-Michigan in late November.  The Game.  One of the most storied rivalries in all of sports, let alone college football, where records and rankings get tossed out the window and the only thing that matters is the heart, effort and pride you show in The Game.

And that was the performance Rich Rodriguez’s team threw (up) on the field Saturday afternoon?

The rumors around RichRod’s future were swirling even before what turned out to be the Wolverines’ seventh straight loss to their hated archrivals.  This loss will do nothing but ratchet up the heat on Rodriguez and, by extension, new athletic director David Brandon.  And rightly so, because it’s time.

It’s time to stop the embarrassment for one of the greatest programs in the history of college football.  Time for Brandon to pull the plug on the Rodriguez Experiment and start the whole damn thing over.  Three years in and, with the exception of Denard Robinson, this football program is no better shape than when he took over for Lloyd Carr.  In fact, you could argue that they are worse off than they were in November of 2007.

It’s time to get on the phone with Jim Harbaugh and beg — literally, figuratively and all points in between — the Stanford head coach to come back home and right a sinking ship.  Do whatever it takes to get Harbaugh off The Farm and back to Ann Arbor.

A sizable faction of Wolverine Nation didn’t want Rodriguez in the first place, if for no other reason than he wasn’t a “Michigan Man”.  You want a “Michigan Man”?  Get Harbaugh.  Not only would it be a prodigal son returning, the man has turned Stanford into a national powerhouse.  Stanford, people, an institution of higher learning that scoffs in the general direction of Michigan’s lofty academic standards.

Certainly the case will be made, mostly by RichRod sycophants, that you would not only be changing a head coach, you would be changing an entire system as well.  Michigan’s going into their fourth recruiting season gathering players who fit the Rodriguez’s spread offense — and dread defense;  Harbaugh is the polar opposite of the current UM style, and it would certainly take a year or two to rid the program of the spread stench and get back to “Michigan football”.

To that we say, so what?  Harbaugh’s “style” has worked and has been working in the Midwest for decades.  Harbaugh’s “style” has worked on the West Coast with one recruiting hand tied behind his back academically.  What, you’re concerned that a coaching change that brings back “Michigan football” could result in a couple of years with 5-7 wins?  Been there, done that with Rodriguez, only with Harbaugh, there would be some hope and some pride restored to the program.  With Rodriguez stalking the sidelines for a fourth year, you have neither.

It’s a no-brainer if Brandon, a former Wolverine player, truly cares about the future of his beloved football program.

Pull the trigger and get the Wolverines back on track sooner rather than later, Brandon.  College football is a much better game when Michigan is relevant and not simply used as a punchline.

Or as Ohio State’s annual whipping boy.

LOOK: Virginia unveils new uniforms

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - NOVEMBER 26:  A general view of the game between the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Virginia Cavaliers at Scott Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images)
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For those who pay attention to the uniform game within the game of college football — which seems like just about everyone these days — a distinct pattern has emerged of late: new coach, new uniforms. This offseason alone we’ve seen it at Rutgers (new coach Chris Ash), Central Florida (new coach Scott Frost), Virginia Tech (new coach Justin Fuente) and, now, Virginia. Nothing gives the fan base something new to rally around quite like giving them something new to look at, particularly when a new staff takes over for an underperforming one. When the product on the field still appears like the old one, you might as well make it look different, at least.

The Cavaliers broke out new uniforms on Saturday that blend the program’s past with its present.

Here, head coach Bronco Mendenhall explains the thesis behind the change. I’ll let you decide whether this is the typical Nike brand-speak coming out a new mouth or convicting symbolism that will yield a tangible difference on the field.

Next, some new looks at the new look, courtesy of Virginia athletics:

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Virginia’s new staff and new uniforms will see the field for the first time Saturday against Richmond.

Miss. State DL Nick James arrested for fourth time as a Bulldog

COLUMBIA , MO - NOVEMBER 5:  Quarterback Drew Lock #3 of the Missouri Tigers rolls out as he looks to pass as he is pursued by Nick James #88 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the first quarter at Memorial Stadium on November 5, 2015 in Columbia, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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A familiar headline splashed across SEC-land on Sunday: Mississippi State defensive tackle Nick James was arrested early Sunday morning.

It’s his fourth arrest in the past three years.

James was arrested previously for driving without insurance in 2013, disorderly conduct and driving with a suspended license in 2014, and public intoxication in February of last year.

The latest arrest came at 1:36 Sunday morning for public intoxication, according to the Starkville Daily News.

The Bulldogs released a statement saying Dan Mullen “is aware of an incident involving Nick James that occurred last night, and he is currently getting more information on it.”

A senior, James saw action in all 13 games last season with 10 starts. He has posted 43 tackles, three TFLs and one forced fumble in 34 career appearances. James was penciled in to start along the Bulldogs’ defensive front this season.

Mississippi State will already be without five-star signee Jeffery Simmons for punching a woman in a parking lot fight before his arrival on campus.

Western Michigan dismisses pair accused of alleged stick-up

KALAMAZOO, MI - SEPTEMBER 4: Western Michigan Broncos fans get fired up before the game against the Michigan State Spartans at Waldo Stadium on September 4, 2015 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Western Michigan has dismissed a pair of players accused of sticking up a female WMU student after committing an on-campus robbery, the program announced Sunday. The players, linebacker Ron George and wide receiver Bryson White, were both freshmen.

The pair are accused of holding the student up with a semi-automatic firearm and a knife. It is not clear which player is accused of holding which weapon. “He had the gun to the back of my head and he slammed the back of my head with the gun,” the woman said.

The woman says the players stole “hundreds of dollars, along with a stereo speaker.”

“I’m so scared. I couldn’t sleep last night,” the woman told WWMT-TV. “I haven’t ate anything since. I’m so scared. I don’t want to live here anymore.”

“This has been a difficult time for our University, community and football family,” head coach P.J. Fleck said in a statement. “With this action we are moving forward and we are focusing our attention on Northwestern.”

George was a three-star signee out of Pittsburgh. White was a walk-on from Ohio.

Western Michigan visits Northwestern Saturday (noon ET, ESPNU).

Texas Tech boss Kirby Hocutt becomes latest million-dollar AD

LUBBOCK, TX - JANUARY 16: Texas Tech Athletic Director Kirby Hocutt answers questions from the media after being named the chairman of the College Football Playoff Selection Committee on January 16, 2016 at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock, Texas. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)
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It’s been a good year for Kirby Hocutt. His basketball team returned to the NCAA Tournament, then made a nice rebound hire in Chris Beard when Tubby Smith bolted for Memphis. His baseball team won its first-ever game at the College World Series, then held onto head coach Tim Tadlock when Texas came calling. His football program is positioned for a solid year, with rare stability at the defensive coordinator position and perhaps the most talented quarterback in school history in Patrick Mahomes. He reached a new level of professional currency when he was named chairman of the College Football Playoff selection committee.

That last bit has led to a handsome new contract that pushes his salary to north of $1 million a year.

As detailed by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, Hocutt has inked a seven-year contract that pays him a sum of $7.525 million. He’ll earn $1 million in the first year and net raises of $25,000 each year, plus bonuses that could reach as much as $225,000 each year. All told, theoretically, Hocutt could earn $1.4 million by the final year of his contract.

“I couldn’t feel more fortunate to have the support that I’ve enjoyed and continue to enjoy at Texas Tech University,” Hocutt told the paper. “The leadership continues to be tremendous. I couldn’t be more excited about President Schovanec. The support he provides, that Chancellor (Robert) Duncan provides, I couldn’t be more fortunate as an athletics director.”

Salaries for athletics directors aren’t as easy to track as coaches but, according to the most recent data on file, Hocutt appears to be one of just eight active ADs to earn seven figures — and more than the ADs at both Texas and Texas A&M.

In addition to Tech’s success in the big three sports — the Red Raiders were the only Big 12 program to reach the postseason in football and men’s basketball while also reaching the College World Series — 11 of the school’s 14 other programs also reached the postseason, including Big 12 titles in soccer, men’s tennis and baseball.