The Los Angeles Rams have started the professional edition coaching carousel today by firing head coach Jeff Fisher. With a vacancy now open in the National Football League, we are bound to hear a few names from the college coaching fraternity have their names connected to a few rumors here and there. Once coach already having his name in the conversation to some degree is Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.
The Harbaugh to the NFL topic picked up some steam in the last few days thanks to an interview with Albert Breer of Monday Morning Quarterback with Colin Cowherd on Friday. After an interview on the radio show, Cowherd shared a tidbit from Breer that was not aired live. Cowherd claimed Breer said a rumor about Harbaugh coaching the Rams was “a very real thing.” Of course, that is not much to go on. I can just as easily start a rumor that Bon Jovi is in the next Star Wars film, and while there may be no truth to it, the rumor itself is very real. So what does the whole “Harbaugh to Rams” rumor being “a real thing” mean, exactly?
Well, for starters, let’s also consider the other two names Cowherd resorted to attaching to the Rams discussion; Jon Gruden and Mike Shanahan. These two names get recycled so often, they have lost all meaning in the coaching rumor world and immediately take away any merit of legitimacy in coaching change discussions they may appear. Harbaugh’s name is already feeling like it will be in that same bunch in the years to come the longer he sticks around at Michigan.
Breer later took to Twitter to say he was merely referring to Harbaugh being a potential target for NFL teams in need of a coach, which is true. Odds are Harbaugh could be contacted given his previous experience in the league with the San Francisco 49ers and his success in a short period of time at Michigan.
As with any rumor right now, there is far more speculation going on than actual facts. Does that mean Harbaugh won’t pack up and leave his alma mater behind for another tour of the NFL? No, because we can never say “never” when it comes to the coaching carousel. But keep in mind Harbaugh is a so-called “Michigan Man” and he is being paid quite handsomely by Michigan (and likely more than he’d make in the NFL). Harbaugh does have a competitive fire, and there is a chance to build something with the Rams for whatever coach comes in to take the job. Will it be Harbaugh? Who knows for sure, but let’s just keep in mind Harbaugh is just the latest college coach to have his name be tied to any number of coaching rumors for as long as he’s coaching, joining the likes of Chip Kelly, Brian Kelly and more.
So hang in there, Michigan fans. This may just be the new norm for the Wolverines, but it is one that comes with success.
Vanderbilt got some good news Wednesday when the NCAA approved transfer Rutger Reitmaier to compete this fall.
The Nashville native signed with Oregon out of high school in 2017 but did not compete for the Ducks. He left the team after spring practice, sat out the 2017 season and enrolled at Vanderbilt in January.
“Adding Rutger to our roster is huge,” head coach Derek Mason told Vanderbilt’s official site. “He adds depth, athleticism and will be a key piece for us. I’m excited about what an impactful player he is, and it’s great to add another quality player from Nashville.”
A 4-star recruit, Reitmaier was recruited by the likes of Tennessee, Ole Miss and South Carolina, but favored Vanderbilt when leaving Oregon.
“Vanderbilt was the first school I considered after deciding to leave Oregon,” he said. “It was one of my top-three schools during my initial recruitment in high school. Defense wins championships, so having a head coach like Coach Mason with that background was attractive for me. I’m excited to get going.”
Northwestern claims they have the best home schedule in the country for the upcoming 2018 season and they have a pretty good case with Duke, Akron, Michigan, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Notre Dame all coming to Ryan Field. Based on the latest moves on their future schedules however, that good run of big names doesn’t quite continue.
The school announced a slew of new games in the coming years on Wednesday, including a pair of home-and-homes with AAC and CUSA opponents. First up is a date with Tulane in Evanston on Sept. 12, 2020, followed by a return game in New Orleans on Aug. 30, 2025. As a result of that first game against the Green Wave, the Wildcats had to move their previously scheduled contest against Central Michigan from Sept. 12 to Sept. 19 in 2020 (also at home).
Another school in the South was also added to the NU docket with a second home-and-home series with Rice way out in the future. The pair will play in Houston on Sept. 8, 2029, while the return game at Ryan Field is set for Sept. 6… 2031. Yeah, 2031. The two teams will also meet in 2024 and 2025.
A single home game against FCS power South Dakota State was also announced by Northwestern and will be played on Sept. 12, 2026.
The moves mean the Wildcats’ non-conference slate is pretty much set in 2019 (at Stanford, vs. UNLV and UMass), 2022 (vs. Duke, Miami (OH) and Southern Illinois) and 2024 (vs. Duke, Miami (OH) and Rice). The games announced Wednesday fill in some of the holes left in other years but outside of the trip to the Farm next season and a home-and-home with Colorado in 2026/27, there’s not a ton to write home about.
At least Northwestern will always have that 2018 home schedule to point to.
The biggest issue the NCAA is tackling at the moment is an easy one to pick out: transfers. Coaches have chimed in about potential changes and new rules have been enacted but even as we approach the Media Days portion of the calendar next month, transfer talk has been one of the hot topics across all major sports at the collegiate level.
Perhaps that interest is one reason why the NCAA released a new study this week looking into the numbers of one particular category of players: graduate transfers. While the number of actual graduate transfers remains relatively low (about 1% of the total number of student-athletes), the number itself continues to skyrocket year-by-year as more and more players take advantage of rules that allow them to graduate and play immediately at their next school.
According to the NCAA, that number of grad transfers is five times bigger in 2017 than it was in 2011 for men’s sports alone and football in particular saw the number of players moving around nearly double from 117 total in 2016 to 211 the following season. The rates are higher in men’s basketball but the overall number is naturally much bigger in football given the vastly bigger roster size.
Data for 2018 was naturally not made available since we’re just in the middle of the year but a similar increase wouldn’t be too surprising to see given the number of big names that have made headlines prior to the upcoming season. That includes players like Michigan’s Wilton Speight (to UCLA), Cal’s Tre Watson (to Texas), Notre Dame’s Jay Hayes (to Georgia) and Alabama’s Brandon Kennedy (to Tennessee) all among those taking the grad transfer route. It seems like nearly every week we see one or two players announce their intentions to take a similar path.
While we might not have 400+ players listed as graduate transfers in football when 2018 comes to a close, it certainly doesn’t appear that this trend will be slowing down anytime soon and the coaches that are complaining about this brand of “free agency” in college football will just have to get used to the new reality of player movement in light of a number of new NCAA reforms on the subject.
Tough news out of South Bend this week as redshirt freshman linebacker David Adams is leaving the Notre Dame football program as a player to take a medical exception. He tweeted a lengthy statement discussing the departure on his Twitter account Tuesday night:
The Pittsburgh native was a former three-star recruit coming out of high school and was an Under Armour All-American. He redshirted during his first year with the team in 2017 but will sadly not suit up for the team going forward.
The list of injuries Adams tweeted about shows why this isn’t super surprising news given that he had suffered, among other things, concussions, a torn left labrum, a torn rotator cuff, a knee injury and severe patellar tendonitis. He will remain on scholarship at Notre Dame but won’t count against the football team’s 85-man limit going forward.
Though Adams was expected to help contribute some depth to the Irish defense this year, the team is pretty set in the middle of their defense at linebacker on the two-deep but could see incoming recruits Jack Lamb and Bo Bauer take some snaps earlier than expected if somebody else gets hurt.