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Is it creeping closer to time for Michigan to pull the plug on Jim Harbaugh?

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After four-plus seasons, this is what all of the hope and hype was about?

When Jim Harbaugh was introduced as Michigan’s new head football coach to great fanfare on Dec. 30, 2014, it was thought that the former Wolverines quarterback was the elixir for what ailed the storied program.  Here comes the Michigan Man, riding in on his white horse to save the day and rescue the football damsel in distress.

Except, that hasn’t even remotely happened.

In the four year’s prior to Harbaugh’s arrival, all under Brady Hoke, the Wolverines went 31-20 overall and 18-14 in Big Ten play; under Harbaugh in his first four, it was 38-14 and 26-9.  Seven more wins overall for a coach who, last season, was the third-highest paid head coach in college football at $7.5 million?

But, the deeper you dig into the numbers the more distressing the all-too-familiar big-game failures become if you’re a fan of the program.

In games vs. ranked teams, U-M is 8-10 under Harbaugh; take out his first season in Ann Arbor, and the record is 5-8.  When his team is an underdog, Harbaugh is 0-7, including the Week 4 shellacking by Wisconsin.  In the postseason, the Wolverines have lost three straight bowl games.

Most distressful?  Harbaugh, the khaki-clad savior, is 2-6 when facing U-M’s biggest rivals, including going winless against archnemesis Ohio State.

And, again, U-M paid Harbaugh $7.5 million in 2018 and will likely cough up even more in 2019.

“I’m hurt.  I’m hurtin’. I need some words of encouragement if you would. Somebody give me something,” current FOX Sports college football analyst and former U-M great Charles Woodson, seated next to a smirking Meyer on-set Saturday afternoon, lamented. “That [hurt] real.”

The murmuring surrounding Harbaugh and his inability to get the Wolverines back onto the national stage and into the College Football Playoff discussion on any type of regular basis has grown louder over the past year or so.  Getting pushed around and embarrassed by Wisconsin Saturday, and was preceded by the near-defeat in double overtime at the hands of Army in Week 2, has only seen the drumbeat for change grow.

Certainly there’s time for Harbaugh & Company to right the listing ship, but, if that doesn’t happen, the university’s administration will have to look long and hard at season’s end at the nuclear option of pulling the plug on the Michigan Man’s tenure after five seasons.  In order to get back on track and make that option moot, U-M will face a schedule that includes four games against teams currently ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 — No. 18 Iowa, No. 13 Penn State, No. 7 Notre Dame and No. 6 Ohio State — as well as one versus a Michigan State team that could very well get back into the rankings when Nov. 16 matchup rolls around.

If U-M does opt to move on from Harbaugh, it wouldn’t be as cost-prohibitive as one might think as the university would owe the coach a buyout somewhere in the neighborhood of $12 million if he’s fired without cause.  Given the ATM that is the Big Ten Network as well as other conference revenue streams, coming up with the funds to shed themselves of Harbaugh and his staff — and pay his replacement as well —  shouldn’t be an issue.

Even if U-M decides to stick with Harbaugh, there’s the fact that he has just two years remaining on a contract that runs through 2021.  Knowing that will be used against him on the recruiting trail — and how that could adversely affect the program down the road — do university officials extend him, thus making it even more expensive to get out from under the coach?

One way or another, the University of Michigan will have a decision to make, one that will decide the football program’s course for several years to come.

Star WR Michael Pittman confirms he’ll play in USC’s bowl game

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(Pardon us as we’ve been catching up on a few things due to some very significant technical difficulties.)

USC fans can assuage their anguish somewhat over the retention of Clay Helton with the knowledge that one of their school’s most explosive weapons on offense will be available during the postseason. There, feel better?

After some uncertainty and speculation, Michael Pittman announced on Twitter this week that he will be playing in the Trojans’ bowl game. USC will face Iowa in Holiday Bowl Dec. 27, the first meeting between the football programs since 2002.

Pittman led the Trojans this season in receptions (95), receiving yards (1,222) and receiving touchdowns (11). The catches and yards led the Pac-12, while the scores were second.

The fourth-year senior was named first-team all-conference and is a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award.

FAU makes hiring of Willie Taggart as Lane Kiffin’s replacement official

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A week ago, it was reported that Willie Taggartbadly wants a second act” at USF.  While that job ultimately went to a Clemson coordinator, Taggart still ended up landing yet another gig in the Sunshine State.

With rumors swirling throughout the day, Florida Atlantic confirmed Wednesday evening that Taggart has been named as the Owls’ new head football coach.  Taggart replaces Lane Kiffin, who left shortly after FAU won the Conference USA championship game Saturday for the Ole Miss job.

“I’m grateful to Brian White and President Kelly for their belief in me to lead the football program at Florida Atlantic University,” a statement from Taggart began. “I’m looking forward to long-term success here. I think our players and the university deserve that commitment. Family is extremely important to me. I couldn’t do what I do without their love and support and all of us are looking forward to being here in Paradise for the foreseeable future.”

After four years as the head coach at South Florida, Taggart left USF for Oregon — for one season as it turned out as he pulled up stakes from the Pac-12 school for the Florida State job in December of 2017.  Less than two full seasons later, though, Taggart was shown the door by the Seminoles in early November.

Taggart is a native of Bradenton, Fla. and has deep, extensive recruiting ties in the state, which will only aid him in taking over a football program that has won two conference championships the past three years.

Taggart has never won a conference crown during his 10 seasons as a head coach, although he did claim a division title at South Florida in 2016.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have Coach Taggart on board to lead our football program,” FAU athletic director Brian White said in his statement. “Coach Taggart is a proven program builder who will develop strong relationships with our student-athletes and develop them as future leaders. His deep relationships around the state of Florida and the nation will be vital in recruiting as well. The traits he brings to the table will allow us to continue building upon our recent success.”

FAU’s Harrison Bryant named Mackey Award winner as nation’s best TE

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In a change of pace, we come to an award that doesn’t involve either Joe Burrow or Chase Young.

The John Mackey Award winner was announced earlier in the day Wednesday, with Florida Atlantic’s Harrison Bryant claiming this year’s honor.  The Mackey is handed out annually to the nation’s top tight end.

Established in 2000, the 2018 winner was Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson.

This past season, Bryant caught 65 passes for 1,0004 yards and seven touchdowns.  Bryant led all FBS tight ends in both catches and receiving yards.

Bryant beat out seven other tight ends for the 2019 Mackey.

  • Hunter Bryant, Washington
  • Brycen Hopkins, Purdue
  • Brevin Jordan, Miami
  • Charlie Kolar, Iowa State
  • Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri
  • Colby Parkinson, Stanford
  • Giovanni Ricci, Western Michigan

Ole Miss announces future home-and-home with Oregon State

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With the 2019 regular season put to bed, there is some future scheduling news on which to hit — and some very rare news at that.

Wednesday afternoon, Ole Miss announced that it had reached an agreement on a future home-and-home series with Oregon State.  The Beavers will travel to Oxford Sept. 18, 2027, with the Rebels making the trek to Corvallis on Aug. 31, 2030.

The 2027 game will mark the first-ever between the football programs.

According to Ole Miss, they have played a current member of the Pac-12 just twice, with both of those games coming against Cal.  Those games, incidentally, came in the last three years, including this season.

Oregon State last played a team from the SEC in 1987 when they traveled to Georgia.  A team from that conference has never played in Corvallis.