Once again, there is no game to preview in this week’s roundtable with the staff. This time “The Game” fell by the wayside and in any other year, it would be the biggest story of the week. It’s not. Jim Harbaugh’s contract is.
I asked the Maize n Brew staff to weigh in on both in our biggest roundtable turnout of the year so far.
Welp. There’s no game this weekend. Thoughts?
Von Lozon: Let me preface my answer by stating how I sincerely hope all the student-athletes, coaches, etc. who are battling COVID-19 are doing well. That said, thank GOD there is no game this weekend. Did anyone truly want to tune in? Other than the College Football Playoff committee, Buckeye fans, Urban Meyer, and that dumb Buckeye fanatic guy (you know the one), I highly doubt it.
Trevor Woods: I think it sucks there’s no game. It means too many players and coaches are infected. Win or lose, bad seasons or good, I enjoy covering football and evaluating the X’s and O’s.
Chris Castellani: I would be so devastated if this team was even remotely competitive. I feel bad for the players. This game wouldn’t have gone well, but it’s once less opportunity you’re gonna have to play in “The Game.”
Stephen Osentoski: It’s bad for the sport, first and foremost. A world where Michigan & OSU don’t play in football every year is a worse place to be in. So it definitely makes me sad that it’s not going to happen. I’m even more sad for the players & staff, because you know there’s a part of them that went to Michigan to play in that game, and a lot of work throughout the season was done with that game circled on the calendar. So it just sucks all around.
Anyone thinking Michigan “ducked” the game, please watch the latest video on the MaizenBrew YouTube channel, where I vehemently dispute that for many reasons. In short, it’s an extremely narrow-minded opinion to have.
Matt Eifert: It’s disappointing that the game won’t be able to be played. I obviously wasn’t optimistic about our chances, but this means that the only outcomes of the game could have been an expected blowout defeat, a pleasantly surprising close game, or the upset of the century. All three of those options would have been better than not getting to watch the game at all.
Dan Plocher: Sadness. But so has been 2020. I know that Michigan was expected to be blown out, but still, this rivalry is what both fanbases look forward to all year. It is the pinnacle of college football and we lost out on it like so many other things in 2020. Anyone thinking that Michigan is avoiding The Game is dead wrong. They were all-in on this season just like Ohio State was. Harbaugh was one of the leading voices of getting the student-athletes back on the field. He wouldn’t just cop-out of a game because they were so heavily under dogged. Anyone who believes that has a very flawed mindset. Especially because everyone and their mother knew the Big Ten was going to alter their rules and put the Buckeyes in the championship game regardless.
Jared Stormer: With a reported 45 players that would have missed (COVID, contact tracing, injuries), that’s definitely the right call, but what a lame way to end what has already been a historically lame season. You’ll never hear him admit it in a millions years, but Harbaugh had to privately have a moment of relief when he found out he didn’t have to get ransacked by Ryan Day and the Buckeyes again on national television. Really unfortunate for the players though, you know they wanted to play this one.
Anthony Broome: Sadness for the program, personal relief for me. Aside from the impact it will have on our content this weekend, it seems it would have been a repeat of what we have seen all season long (and probably worse) with cooler uniforms.
What’s your take on what’s currently going on with Jim Harbaugh’s contract?
Von Lozon: This situation has not been handled well at all. If you frequent MaizeNBrew.com — first of all, thank you very much — you will know I am a ‘crootin guy. If you listened to Future Brew this week (if not, go do so pretty please), you will know how much I believe this situation has affected recruiting, both in 2021 and 2022. Why would any kid want to commit to a program that doesn’t have a head coach signed on for the entirety of your time in college? Every other major program has their head coach signed on for a while; Harbaugh is signed on for next season, and that’s literally it.
Michigan is in trouble with this 2021 class and could face issues in 2022 unless Harbaugh and Manuel act on it quickly.
Trevor Woods: The reports that surfaced about an extension being offered were premature. Some expected an extension to be signed this week, while I felt there’s no way Harbaugh would negotiate anything the week of The Game. The bottom line is there’s been a reluctance from Michigan to get a deal done which has led to this current situation. If Michigan really wanted him back, it would have been done by now.
Chris Castellani: I believe what’s been reported. I think Warde will offer Harbaugh a deal for less pay as a way of potentially forcing him back to the NFL
Stephen Osentoski: It’s been speculated on by multiple people, but Warde Manuel took way too long to bring this sort of discussion up with Harbaugh. It never should have gotten to this point. That’s both on Manuel and Harbaugh for pushing this off until now.
The ball is in Harbaugh’s court, who’s likely 1) gauging NFL interest, 2) debating whether he thinks he can turn around Michigan, and 3) trying to determine if he can swallow the inevitable pay-cut, due to both performance as of late, and COVID reasons.
Matt Eifert: There have to be factors at play that aren’t publicly known. If Jim Harbaugh wanted to sign an extension, he would have done so by now. Waiting to sign an extension until after the season only hurts his recruiting chances going forward with National Signing Day coming up shortly. My gut tells me that he’s waiting for the right NFL job to become available.
Dan Plocher: I wish I could say I was surprised. Contrary to how the fans feel, the program has made every indication that Harbaugh has this thing headed in the right direction. He has had a strong performance in the recruiting, but he has to translate that to results on the field. There has been a lack of success at multiple levels from the coaching staff that he has put together so far in his tenure. I think an agreement may come with cleaning house and replenishing a lot of areas that have struggled.
Jared Stormer: The equivalent of a fire breaking out at a circus. This whole process has been mismanaged, and now you’re put in a position where you are going to lose some recruits regardless of which way you go because of the timing. I tend to believe the report from John Bacon about an incentive-laden contract being on the table. If that’s the case and Harbaugh is being asked to take a pay cut unless he beats the rivals and wins a Big Ten championship, I could see him walking.
Anthony Broome: It’s malpractice on both Harbaugh and Michigan’s end. If they were always going to extend, why now? It should have been after last season or during the offseason where Harbaugh brought in Josh Gattis, which signified what was supposed to be the second wind of the program. Michigan’s current offer is probably fair, while Harbaugh would be right in wanting a longer, more stable commitment from his alma mater. Every day that passes without a deal leaves this more and more in limbo.
Call your shot. Who will be coaching Michigan next season?
Von Lozon: Jim Harbaugh, with a lot of different faces around him.
Trevor Woods: I truly don’t have an answer and nobody else has a concrete answer. And that’s an issue that lingers over the program right now. Nobody really knows what’s going on, a trend that’s likely to continue for at least the next week or more.
Chris Castellani: Jim Harbaugh
Stephen Osentoski: Harbaugh gets a short-term extension and it’s a REALLY new staff. It goes better than 2020 did.
Matt Eifert: Matt Campbell will be coaching Michigan next season. Jim Harbaugh will hold out for the right NFL job offer to materialize. If one surfaces, Harbaugh will make the jump back to the pros. If not, Michigan and Harbaugh will mutually part ways leading to a hopefully brief and fruitful coaching search.
Dan Plcoher: Jim Harbaugh minus Josh Gattis and Don Brown. The only coach outside of Harbaugh who should be retained is Ed Warinner who has rebuilt the offensive line. They need an offense with an identity and it is clear that what they are doing defensively has not been working. That falls on everybody, including Harbaugh. A deal will show further the divide between the expectations that the administration has for their football program and what the fans expect. A 10-2 record with a loss to Ohio State is not a bad year, but when that is the peak through six years, that’s a different story. I expect it to be shorter two, maybe three seasons and with the expectation of a win over the Buckeyes in that time frame. If not, I think everyone involved is wise enough to realize that this long-term experiment has been a failure.
Jared Stormer: My head tells me an extension gets done, but that’s not the shot I’m shooting. I think there is enough of a mess on your hands on the field, and some looming de-commitments, coupled with the strange transfer of Zach Carpenter, there’s enough for me to buy that this thing is headed for a split. Bring on the Souperman, it’s going to be Matt Campbell in 2021.
Anthony Broome: I think it will be Harbaugh, but I am pretty close to 50/50 on this. The longer we go without a deal, the more likely it is that a parting of the ways is in order. We’re not quite ready to start prepping coaching candidate lists, but maybe it’s time to fire up the typewriters.