Some assorted thoughts. This was going to be a satirical article but, holy shit, sanity is needed in at least part of our corner of the interwebs. My MnB body of work consists of occasionally posting humor pieces and making sure our Pac and Biggie quotient is high enough, and yet I get texts/DMs/etc from about 8-10 people a day asking me if I know anyone.
OLD MAN CAVEAT: What fun! The best part so far: the amount of (likely) teenagers making statements about "sources" is incredible. And people keep falling for it. But it's rough out there. The amount of insanity out there - from people trolling Kawakami (which definitely has merit) to parroting ChatSports 8,000 times - is almost on a political scale. Remember Cowherd telling us Belichick was coming with a straight face? The trolls are out, and they are out in force. And some of them get paid millions of dollars by the largest sports network on the planet. Ah, well. Also, there are probably more relevant facts than I cite below, but I got the big ones.
ON SOURCING AND CREDIBILITY: I am a blogger. I am not a reporter. I don't regularly mine "sources", and I don't feel comfortable repeating what my plugged-in friends tell me to strangers on the Internet. I have a day job. It is not covering Michigan football. But there are some people who do it very well and rightly deserve their paychecks/blog hits. Here's how I filter all the information coming through every day:
1)If you'd like some reporting, check out MnB's own Josh or MGo's Brian Cook or the News's Angelique Chengelis. They are all upstanding citizens of the Internet world who have the good sense to say "This is a fact" and differentiate it from "This is what I'm told is a fact" and then rate its credibility for you. There are many more out there, but it gets repetitive eventually, and unless you NEED to know actual news within 1-2 minutes of the scoop, stick with a few trusted sources. Plus, Josh and I banter on Twitter. That's mostly why he's here. Zach used to be on this list, but then Heinekengate happened. Note that these folks sometimes pass along rumors/etc, but they make it very clear that's the case.
2) Want the latest rumors? Like hunches? Are you ok with getting info from "sources" that usually turn out right? Are you ok paying for information? Go check out Sam Webb. The reason I don't have him in the first group - though he is certainly a "reporter" - is he's part of the "subscription service" chunk of the Michigan internet, in which message board innuendo and screenshots of texts regularly create insanity. There are many others in the Sam Webb mold, but he's the best and one of the most accurate journalists/reporters/personalities covering Michigan, so he gets the nod here. H/T to Clint Brewster, Chris Balas and others here.
3) If you'd like some foolishness and in some cases borderline rudeness/trolling mixed in with what in some cases can be reporting, go check out Jeff Moss or Gregg Henson or any of the other rumormongers who might know someone who knows someone. Important caveat here, though - they have been right a lot and they have the balls to actually say it well ahead of the rest of the media. But they stray into other topics and definitely have opinions that are mixed in.
This is not a slight - I've been entertained, they have been right, and I support Jeff's holy war against one Terry Foster - but in terms of "X IS HAPPENING or NOT HAPPENING" for absolutely sure- go elsewhere. I like Jeff. And I like what I've seen from Greg.
4) The lowest tier of credibility hell is reserved for agenda reporting, where people have a vested interest in driving not only traffic (we're all guilty of this) but an agenda. In some cases, it's blatant self-promotion (Cowherd) or a desire to be "first" and jump the gun (Wiley) or just troll (Kawakami). I put Kawakami here because he is a veteran, well-respected reporter with relationships that are generally very solid, but the last few weeks have driven him past the point of sanity. I've tweeted at him a couple times, and I'm sure many of you have as well - there is no vested interest in creating a dialogue or - crucially - differentiating versus opinion and fact. MGo has covered this, as has most of Twitter. But damn, it's fun to read this shit.
5) There are also reporters from other spheres pushing opinions or sourced material. Jason La Canfora, Gil Brandt, and others who are well-respected NFL folks who know exactly what's going on with the NFL but have ventured into the innuendosphere reporting on Michigan. Their realm of expertise is the NFL and they all have certain worldviews that influence their reporting. They are used to being fed information from a professional organization with professional motives. They have access, which requires relationships, which requires quid pro quo. Case in point: Peter King, as covered beautifully by Deadspin. I am not nearly spending enough space on this section, and it's very possible an NFL reporter/non-Michigan insider will take the lead. But take it with several grains of salt. And them reporting information you/we don't like doesn't make it true or untrue - only the quality and truthfulness of their sources does.
If you need a litmus test after reading these fairly obtuse categories, here's a simple process for you: put yourself in the tweeter/blogger/whatever's shoes for the following test of information: Jim Harbaugh is trying to make up his mind about his future.
1) Get your platform. Pretend you are a blogger. Many people do this, including myself.
2) Get your information. Doesn't matter how, really. I glossed over this part in talking to my friend about journalism school. In this case, it is an assumption.
3) Check your source. Ask yourself - who has information to share? How do I know them, and most importantly, why are they telling me this? Is it an agent leaking information? A friend of a friend wanting to pass something along? A kid with no grounding whatsoever? Here is how to differentiate between/among your sources:
- PRIMARY: Jim Harbaugh, Les Miles, or whoever the information is about. For example, a made up quote: "I am torn between the NFL and college" - quote from JH. This is as credible as you trust the source giving it directly to you. (and for you lunatics out there, this did not happen)
- SECONDARY/EVERYTHING ELSE: You hear from a friend of JH's that he's torn between the NFL and college. This is as credible as you trust: a) the source telling you what JH said and b) what JH told your source. The removal of verifiable fact from this game of telephone is very important. Filter this through the steps above - and ask, why?
- INNUENDO AND RUMOR: "JH bought X from a place in Ann Arbor," "his wife loves the bay area," "a recruit was told something and tweeted it," etc. These are pieces that can be spun/used in any way. Positive or negative, depending on what you want. Are they credible facts? Maybe. But why are they being used to support argument X?
- The 49ers have missed the playoffs. This is a mathematical fact.
- Michigan needs a head coach.
- Jim Harbaugh is far and away the top choice by a majority of the fanbase. However, he is not publicly discussing the Michigan job.
- Michigan has indicated this will be a deliberate and thorough search.
- Michigan has hired Korn Ferry to help them with the search. This means contacting candidates/their representatives to gauge interest. KF has an employee that is close to Jack Harbaugh.
- Miami's owner, M alum Stephen Ross, has said the Dolphins are keeping their coach, which likely takes them out of the sweepstakes for a new one.
- There is considerable tension between the 49ers management/ownership and Jim Harbaugh. Multiple reports have referenced this, and he's likely gone after the year.
- Jim Hackett/Michigan would like Harbaugh to be M's next head coach. He is likely their top choice. (Rittenberg - "clearly" is something that should be sourced/elaborated on more, though). They are likely waiting on Harbaugh's decision before targeting other candidates/making an offer. (Les Miles would merit an entire other post, but reporting is split here, too - it is this blogger's opinion, shared by many, he would come if offered)
- An offer has been made to Jim Harbaugh, and it is for a LOT of money.
- Harbaugh is having trouble figuring out what he wants his next step to be. Note that he has not said this publicly. These are all secondary reports.
- Harbaugh would be very popular for several NFL teams that would are likely to make a play for him, namely the Raiders. The Bears may fire their coach. But they might not be able to afford Harbaugh. Other jobs like Atlanta and half a dozen others may also be available.
- There is already a deal in place for Harbaugh to coach Michigan.
- All that shit about the ties and the recruits and the real estate.
- No news is good news. (This is actually an assumption) - the longer this drags out, the more likely Michigan is to get Harbaugh.