Beginning this season, the Big Ten will begin playing some college football game son Friday nights. The decision has widely been criticized across the footprint of the Big Ten, and now one of the most visible faces of the Big Ten is making his case against Friday night football. Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh took a hard stance against the new scheduling effort during a radio interview on Monday.
“I am not for it at all,” Harbaugh said today on the Rich Eisen radio show. “Friday night is for high school football.”
Michigan was not scheduled to play a Friday night game this season, but Harbaugh still was free to weigh in on the conference model because it would impact the Wolverines at some point in the future. Harbaugh said Friday night football could gain momentum in the future, but he will not back down from voicing his opposition to the idea.
“Sometimes the pendulum swings one way and they do something that’s not productive for the game of football and then has the ability to swing back the other way,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t know that that is set in stone, nor should it be… The opposition to playing college football games on Friday nights should be voiced.”
When the Big Ten announced the implementation of Friday night games to the conference schedule, Michigan was among the schools stating it would not host any Friday night games. Penn State was another. The logistical nightmares alone of having to host a Friday night game in a stadium that seats over 100,000 people was more than enough reason to say no to Friday night games, but not every stadium in the Big Ten has those same concerns. But even Northwestern wiggled its way out of two Friday night matchups this season.
It all seems as though the Big Ten made a decision fueled by money without any regard for what the schools had to say about it. Shocking, right?
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh may still be adjusting to being back on American soil and getting back in the swing of things after traveling abroad to Italy with the football program, but it looks like his Twitter game is back in good form.
Michigan set a school record with 11 players being drafted by NFL teams in last week’s NFL Draft, which the school was certainly proud of. Florida State assistant Tim Brewster, who has a track record of taking his shots at rivals and opponents on Twitter, aimed and fired at Michigan’s draft total by reminding his followers that NFL Draft picks don’t necessarily translate to wins.
Brewster was referencing Florida State’s come-from-behind victory against the Wolverines in the Orange Bowl last bowl season. Brewster’s comment could also be supported by the fact Michigan has not finished higher than third place in its division under Harbaugh. But Harbaugh may have been taking a somewhat veiled shot in retaliation to Brewster’s tweet on Wednesday.
Florida State had four players drafted in the 2017 NFL Draft last week, and two players drafted in 2016. Michigan had three players taken in the 2016 NFL Draft for those keeping score at home. However, in 2015, Michigan had just three players drafted while the Seminoles were sending 11 players through the draft.
We’ll stay tuned for any further exchanging of tweets between these two coaches.
Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight did not have a terrific showing in the spring game last weekend, but head coach Jim Harbaugh says he is still the top quarterback on the depth chart coming out of the spring. That said, Speight could be under pressure to keep it once the summer rolls along and the 2017 season gets underway.
“It’ll always be (a competition,)” Harbaugh said when speaking to the media, according to a Detroit Free Press report from Mark Snyder. “Still over the course of the whole spring practice, Wilton on our depth chart, he’s No. 1. But it’s a meritocracy. By your effort and by your talent you will be known. That’s a good thing for our football team.”
Harbaugh’s comments are none to surprising. The 2017 season could be a slight step back for Michigan coming off a big step forward for the program in 2016, but Harbaugh has always been one to ramp up the competitive fire in the program. It has not led to a Big Ten division championship yet, but there is no question it has helped get Michigan back on the right track as a program. No position is considered safe under Harbaugh, who will focus on playing the best possible players at every position for a chance to improve as a team and win games. That’s his job, after all.
Speight played 12 games for the Wolverines last season. In those 12 games, Speight passed for 2,538 yards and 18 touchdowns while completing 61.6 percent of his pass attempts and was picked off seven times. Other options that could replace Speight if a chance is deemed necessary would include senior John O’Korn (who previously started at Houston) and Brandon Peters, who was also less-than-impressive in the Michigan spring game.
Just as the NCAA men’s basketball tournament was tipping off on Thursday, Indiana announced it had fired head basketball coach Tom Crean. Such a move was largely expected given the way this past season played out and now Indiana will have a new football and basketball coach in 2017. The Crean dismissal has been a bit of a discussion point while the tournament has been going on, and among those sounding off on the head coaching change in Bloomington is… Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh.
At first you may think that seems kind of odd that a football coach at one Big Ten school would have any reason to discuss a basketball coach at another Big Ten school being dismissed, but Crean is Harbaugh’s brother-in-law, so Harbaugh has a personal reason to be critical of the Indiana decision. In a story for Sports Illustrated by Michael Rosenberg, Harbaugh compared his personal experience with the San Francisco 49ers with what he sees his brother-in-law going through this week at Indiana.
Jim Harbaugh looks at Crean’s Indiana tenure and says, “much like my situation in San Francisco, the people that are doing the micromanaging … when it comes to building a ball team, what they know could not blow up a small balloon. In my case, an owner and a general manager. In his case, an administration. They are so similar in that way. And he still wins two Big Ten championships outright.”
If this quote tells us anything, it is that the head coach of the Wolverines still has some bitter feelings for his old bosses with the 49ers. Harbaugh took the 49ers to a Super Bowl and nearly captured a Super Bowl championship, but he was topped by the Baltimore Ravens, coached by his brother John Harbaugh. The other Harbaugh brother had some choice words to say about Indiana’s situation as well, telling Crean the day he was let go will prove to be the best day of his career.
One might suggest Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers parting ways ended up being the best day of his career. Now, Harbaugh is the highest-paid coach in college football and coaching his alma mater back to national relevance as he enters his third year on the sideline. Crean will certainly land a new job somewhere, but he may not be the next highest-paid coach in the sport.
Helmet sticker to The Comeback.
Former Hawaii defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa has landed in Ann arbor with a new job. Michigan announced Lempa has joined the staff as a senior defensive analyst under Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Don Brown.
“Kevin is a great addition to our football program and defensive staff,” said Harbaugh in a released statement. “He adds a wealth of experience and knowledge on the defensive side of the ball, and Kevin’s working relationship with Coach (Don) Brown will be a big asset for our team.”
“I am very excited and honored to become part of Coach Harbaugh’s staff,” Lempa said in his released statement. “I am also fired up to be working with Coach Brown again.”
Lempa resigned from his position with the Hawaii program following the 2016 season. He previously served as a defensive backs coach at Boston College from 2013 through 2015, when Brown was the defensive coordinator of the Eagles.
As a defensive analyst, Lempa will not have any hands-on instruction with the Michigan roster but will assist in film breakdown and other orders of business in preparing Michigan’s game plan.