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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.

Colorado to retire Ralphie V after home finale vs. Washington

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Colorado has retired Ralphie V at the end of this season, AD Rick George announced Tuesday.

Actually, the retirement is already partially in effect because, as The Ringer’s Rodger Sherman pointed out on Twitter, she had become too powerful.

Ralphie turned 13 in October and is in great health; she receives regular veterinarian check-ups.  As the season progressed, she just wasn’t having the consistency she had displayed in prior years.  With past Ralphies, as they aged, their speed typically decreased; with Ralphie V, she has been so excited to run that she was actually running too fast, which created safety concerns for her and her handlers.  She also wasn’t consistently responding to cues from her handlers, and her temperament was such that she was held back from leading the team out for CU’s last two home games against USC and Stanford.

“Ralphie V has served the department and the university well,” George said.  “She has been a very special buffalo and has truly been adored by many.  We hope she lives for many years to come and look forward to finding her successor.”

Ralphie V, Colorado’s mascot since 2008, will make her last appearance Nov. 23 against Washington, where she will not lead the Buffaloes on to Folsom Field but will appear on the sidelines.

“Ralphie V was our first Ralphie to serve in the age of social media,” Ralphie Program Manager John Graves said.  “Thanks to her, we were able to incorporate an educational aspect to the Ralphie Program and hundreds of thousands of fans were able to meet her and learn more about her and buffalo in general, while countless more learned via social media.  As one of the biggest and fastest Ralphies, her love for running and power was showcased every home game during her career.  It’s almost like she knew she was the queen of campus and she loved to show that fact off when she ran onto the field and at her public appearances.”

Colorado officials are currently reviewing film and making recruiting trips to select Ralphie VI, who will make her debut in 2020.

Alabama sees title odds plunge off loss to LSU

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Coming off the loss to LSU this past Saturday, it wasn’t a matter of if but how far Alabama plunged in the eyes of wagering establishments.  Tuesday, we have that answer.

According to the odds released by one offshore sportsbook, Alabama is listed at 10/1 to win the 2019 College Football Playoff championship.  That’s down from 11/4 the week before the LSU loss.

As was the case a week ago, Ohio State, ranked No. 1 in the initial CFP Top 25, is the favorite at 2/1, shortened from 5/2.  LSU, which is expected to be the new No. 1 when the playoff rankings are released later on tonight, has moved up to 5/2 (9/2 last week) while Clemson is right behind at 3/1 (11/4).

Georgia (10/1) and Oklahoma (20/1) are next up with shorter odds at 9/1 and 16/1, respectively.

A pair of Pac-12 teams are further back in the wagering pack, with Oregon (16/1) posting longer odds at 15/1 and Utah putting up the same 40/1 they were at a week ago.  A pair of unbeatens are even further back — Minnesota at 50/1 (100/1 last week) and Baylor at the same 66/1.

The only Group of Five school listed is Cincinnati, with the Bearcats going from 250/1 seven days ago to 500/1 now.

Miami’s Evidence Njoku tweets decision to enter transfer portal

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Following a standout career at Miami, David Njoku was a first-round pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft.  Njoku’s younger brother had hoped to follow in his footsteps at The U, but, as it turns out, that won’t be the case.

On his personal Twitter account Monday afternoon, Evidence Njoku announced that, “after Deep Thought And Discussion I Have Decided To Enter The Transfer Portal To Furthermore Continue My Athletic And Academic Career.” The tight end gave no specific reason for his decision.

“He’s a good young man,” Miami head coach Manny Diaz said. “We wish him well wherever he ends up.”

Njoku was a three-star member of the Hurricanes’ 2017 recruiting class who came to The U as a wide receiver before converting to tight end.  After playing in eight games as a redshirt freshman last season, he had played in just one game thus far in 2019.

The 6-6, 226-pound New Jersey native finishes the Hurricanes portion of his collegiate p[laying career with just one catch for 11 yards, with that coming in the last year’s regular-season finale against Pitt.

Florida announces future home-and-home with Arizona State

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With the 2019 regular season rapidly drawing to a close, Florida has dropped some future scheduling news on the masses.

Early Tuesday afternoon, Florida confirmed that it has agreed to a future home-and-home series with Arizona State.  The Gators will travel to Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe in 2028, with the Sun Devils making the trek to The Swamp in Gainesville in 2031.

The 2028 game will be played on Sept. 16, while the backend of the series will be played either Sept. 6 or 13 of 2031.

That first matchup in 2028 will mark the first-ever meeting between the football programs.

Arizona State last played at the home of an SEC school in 2009, a 20-17 loss to Georgia in Athens.  Florida’s last trip to a Pac-12 school was a 1983 tie with USC.  The Gators last played host to a school from that conference the year before, with the Trojans serving as the opponent once again.