clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Sanity Check: What We Know about Michigan's Coaching Search and How We Know It

I don't know very much.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

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:

  1. 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)
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
4) Figure out why you want to use your platform to spread this information. Journalistic ethics? Page hits? Fucking with people? People have reasons. Whatever. But know this motivates all kinds of information dispersal to varying degrees of accuracy.

WHAT'S GOING ON: This is largely incomplete, but read it and I guarantee you won't be totally insane. So, given this, what do we know?

FACTS/PRIMARY SOURCES - just the relevant bits.
This is all I'm comfortable writing as FACT right now. But we're (mostly) all thinking people here, which is why this site and others exist - moving us to

Some people then take the above assumptions and either turn them into facts or find facts to "confirm" what they believe, leading us to

I'm missing a lot. This will probably get filled in as we go.

TL;DR: We know very little, assume a great deal, and really really want even more. But cool your jets, folks. Things will work out. It is this blogger's opinion that the search is in very good hands, and though the internet will explode if Michigan does not get Harbaugh, they've positioned themselves well for the future. And you heard #harbaughening here first. Probably.

(ed- title and photo changes, added to made-up JH quote. -shash)