John Harbaugh on brother’s future: ‘You just have to see what happens’

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Based on where Stanford football was before Jim Harbaugh came to town — one win in Walt Harris‘ final year — to where it is now — four wins his first season, 11 this year plus a BcS berth — it’s hardly a surprise that the coach’s name has been attached to many coaching jobs at both the collegiate and NFL level.

Last year it was Notre Dame and Kansas, and Michigan if that position had come open.  This year, it’s been Florida and Miami, and Michigan again if/when it comes open following the bowl game.

This type of speculation is just something that the Cardinal and their fan base will have to deal with as long as Harbaugh is there.  And as long as he’s successful.

With a new year of coaching rumors still very visible in the rear-view mirror, John Harbaugh was asked by Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post what direction he thinks his brother’s coaching career will take.  While saying that he thinks he would lean toward staying at Stanford, he also added the “but” qualifier that makes Cardinal fans uneasy every time their coach’s name is attached to an opening.

“I have no idea what he’s going to do,” Harbaugh said. “We do talk about it all the time. He’s having a baby … he’s not, Sarah’s having a baby, in four or five days, and they’ve got the bowl game, so he’s just swimming right now. So, he’s not even thinking about it right now.

I think he wants to stay at Stanford, I think he’d love to stay there, but then again, you just have to see what happens. He’s not the kind of guy that’s going to make any kind of commitment until he’s ready to make a commitment. I think his commitment right now is having a baby and winning the Orange Bowl. So, we’ll see what happens.”

We think we can very safely and accurately translate what Harbaugh’s brother was attempting to relay: he’s very happy on The Farm.  Until Michigan calls.  Or until an NFL team dials him up.

You hear a lot of things this time of the year as it pertains to the coaching carousel, and there are two tidbits that come up in frequent conversations with multiple people that relate directly to Harbaugh.  One, it’s very likely Rich Rodriguez will be dismissed* following the Wolverines’ bowl game and Harbaugh is at the very top of David Brandon‘s list of replacements.  In fact, you could say he’s No. 1 and No. 2, and possibly even No. 3.

Secondly, we’re hearing that, above all else, Harbaugh’s preference is for his next job — if there is a next job — to be at the NFL level.  And that is really where you hear the rumors fly, with his name being attached to San Francisco, Cleveland and Dallas among others.  Regardless of the rumored destination, though, many are convinced that Harbaugh’s next move will be to the NFL.

The thing is, nobody that’s creating or relaying this chatter really knows what would happen if Harbaugh were offered the opportunity to return to Ann Arbor, or had an NFL job dropped in his lap.  By all accounts, he loves where he’s at now and is not actively seeking another job.  Obviously, nothing Harbaugh says publicly will cause the chatter to cease.  Nor would it keep his agent from picking up the phone if it rings.

And, of course, all it would take is one phone call to change the entire dynamic of the situation.  Especially if the call originated from the 734.

(*just wanted to make things perfectly clear: we are not saying that RichRod will be fired; rather, that’s the overwhelming chatter coming from sources with connections to the situation.)

Father of former Florida State WR Travis Rudolph killed in accidental shooting

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The father of Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph was killed Friday in an accidental shooting, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement on Monday.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Darryl Rudolph was working on repairs inside a West Palm Beach, Fla., when a gun accidentally fired in an adjacent room, hitting him in the back/neck area. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 55 years old.

The younger Rudolph was Florida State’s leading receiver over the past two seasons before becoming an early-entrant into this week’s NFL Draft. He gained viral notoriety after a photo snapped of him sitting at lunch with an autistic elementary school student hit Facebook.

“When I used to coach and help other kids with football, basketball and sports, Travis was small but he used to pay attention to what I was doing,” the elder Rudolph said in an interview with ESPN last year. “I told them get your education. You can be the best athlete in the world, but without an education, you’re not going very far. That’s what Travis followed through on.”

LSU QB Danny Etling undergoes back surgery

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LSU quarterback Danny Etling has undergone surgery to relieve back pain, the program announced Monday.

“Danny had a minor back procedure this morning and everything went alright,” head coach Ed Orgeron said in a statement (and not in an Arrested Development way).

Etling has played through back pain for months, according to Ross Dellenger from The Advocate, and this procedure should remove that pain.

In a possibly related story, Etling went 4-of-11 for 53 yards in LSU’s spring game.

A transfer from Purdue, Etling appeared in 11 games for the Tigers last season, completing 160-of-269 passes (59.5 percent) for 2,123 yards (7.9 yards per attempt) with 11 touchdowns against five interceptions.

Etling’s recovery from Monday’s procedure is expected to be a short one.

Willie Taggart defends Oregon’s offseason workouts in interview

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Things got off to a rocky start for new Oregon head coach Willie Taggart. Among the issues Taggart was forced to deal with soon after accepting the job of head coach at Oregon was players falling ill during and after offseason workouts.

Three Ducks were hospitalized in January to treat symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a product of overworking leading to soft tissue and possible kidney damage. Oregon suspended strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde following the hospital treatments to players, and questions about his certification were thrust under a microscope. Despite the unfortunate situation in Eugene, Taggart has defended his program’s workout routine in an interview with Stewart Mandel of FOXSports.com.

“We know we didn’t do anything to try to hurt our kids. We’d done [the same program] everywhere we’ve been and never had a problem,” Taggart explained in the interview. “I think our guys just overworked themselves and didn’t hydrate. … They were trying to impress the new coaches.”

It seems Taggart has been trying to raise the bar at Oregon and find a way to make his new players tougher overall. That is a common strategy for a new coach in a new program, so Taggart’s mission is not unique in that sense.

Maybe it was just a tough physical transition in the approach to workouts after years of Chip Kelly and Mark Helfrich running the show. Will this all pay off in the end? Taggart sure hopes so.

Ohio State claims 2017 national championship… for spring game attendance

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For the third consecutive year, Ohio State is your national champion in the all-important category that is spring game attendance. The Buckeyes once again had the largest attendance for its spring game this month despite stadium renovations cutting out 20,000 seats from Ohio Stadium. After a weekend that saw Alabama and Penn State prove to be the final hurdles necessary to clear, the Buckeyes can once again boast about having the highest attendance this spring, for whatever that is worth.

Alabama (73,426), Penn State (71,000) and Georgia (66,133) made their final push to round-out the top five spring crowds this year over the weekend. The only power conference programs remaining on the spring game schedule are Arkansas, Oregon, Virginia, and UCLA this coming weekend. If you took the combined spring attendance of each of those schools, they would collectively fall shy of Ohio State’s spring crowd total for this season.

Spring Game Attendance Top 10 for 2017 (as of 4/24/2017)

  1. Ohio State – 80,134
  2. Nebraska – 78,312
  3. Alabama – 74,326
  4. Penn State – 71,000
  5. Georgia – 66,133
  6. Clemson – 60,000
  7. Michigan – 57,418
  8. Florida – 48,000
  9. Auburn – 46,331
  10. Oklahoma – 43,723

How valuable the attendance figures for the spring game varies from fanbase to fanbase, and even within each fanbase there is a wide range of opinion on what the significance of the spring game attendance really is. It does help inject some reason to be enthusiastic about the program on the recruiting trail, but it ultimately is open to interpretation just like so many other recruiting tools. Remember, the majority of schools out there hardly make an effort to promote their spring game and make it an event fans look forward to. There may be no conference that demonstrates the wide range of affection for the spring game than the Big Ten.

The Big Ten is led by Ohio State, Nebraska, Penn State and, recently, Michigan when it comes to spring game crowds, but then there is the curious case of Wisconsin. The Badgers have a loyal following, but have not cracked the 10,000-fan mark since 2014, when I began tracking spring game attendance figures. Northwestern has never even kept track of its spring scrimmage numbers, and neither has Indiana for the past three years.

You can check the updated spring game attendance numbers and sort them by conference HERE.