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Thursday, June 4, 2015


(originally published on January 2, 2015)

Many people thought Jim Harbaugh would not return to the University of Michigan, and for many different reasons. Most thought he was committed to coaching professionally in the NFL, chasing after a Super Bowl ring. Some of us noticed the bickering and name-calling that went on in recent years between UM and their newly-minted Savior.

There has been bad blood between Wolverine Nation and the younger Harbaugh brother, and that has apparently been swept under the carpet for the coronation ceremonies. Jim Harbaugh was openly critical of the fraudulent academic standards of his old school, calling them out from his perch in Palo Alto in 2007:
“Michigan is a good school and I got a good education there,” he said, “but the athletic department has ways to get borderline guys in and, when they’re in, they steer them to courses in sports communications. They’re adulated when they’re playing, but when they get out, the people who adulated them won’t hire them.”
All Harbaugh did was tell the truth on UM, by comparing them to a school with actual academic standards for athletes, Stanford University. He was saying little more than what Michigan's own students were reporting in the Michigan Daily at the time. He was talking about the academically marginal "General Studies" degree which was foisted upon 80% of Wolverine athletes for many years. He wasn't leading the charge, he was merely confirming them.

This did not sit well with Jamie Morris, another former Michigan football player, who was working within the UM Athletic Department at the time of Harbaugh's comments. Morris gave it right back to the old quarterback, saying in effect, that he can just shove it:
"We've dissolved our friendship," Morris said.
Morris, who works in the Michigan athletic development department, said he talked to Harbaugh shortly after the comments were printed.
"I said, 'Jim, here's my question for you — do you really believe the comments you said, or are you saying them to make you look good?'
"He said, 'I believe them.' And I said, 'Would you have said it if [former coach] Bo [Schembechler] was alive?' He said, 'That's not the point.' And I said, 'That's exactly the point. You didn't hurt Michigan, you hurt your coach, and you hurt the guys you played with. These are the teammates you turned your back on.' "
Then it became heated.
"We said, 'We're not friends anymore,' " Morris said. " 'You lose my number, I lose yours.' 

Even little Mikey Hart chimed in, getting nasty with Harbaugh, right out in the open. This comes from the guy who literally "put pride before the fall":
"That's a guy I have no respect for," Hart said. "You graduate from the University of Michigan, and you're going to talk about your school like that, a great university like we have? To say that we're not true student-athletes? I don't know if maybe he wants to coach here and he's mad because he didn't get a job. … He's not a Michigan man. I wish he'd never played here."

Now Harbaugh is back and Morris is still around. Presumably, Hart is still a prestigious alumnus. The Michigan Daily hasn't published an update on the academic shortcomings of their "student-athletes", so it appears that part of the situation is largely unchanged. Morris was never publicly rebuked by any university official when he jammed back at Harbaugh in 2007.

Looks like the "reunion tour" may also be somewhat of a "crow-eating tour" for people on all sides of the latest Deal-of-the-Century at Michigan. Either the new Coach has accepted the academic chicanery that he openly reviled only a few years ago, or the Morris Caucus (i.e., "old guard") has their tails stuffed so far between their legs they can't wag any more.

Some folks around Shembechler Hall had to back down for this deal to happen, as it could've happened  on at least two previous occasions, and they must been the ones to block it. Harbaugh wasn't hired in 2007 and 2011 for reasons that emanated deep within Wolverine Nation. If King James loves it so much now, he certainly would have had the same feelings less than a decade ago. The people who stopped him from coming in the past have been served crow sandwiches on a weekly basis since Labor Day 2014.

There were reasons in the past why this merger didn't happen, and the complicating circumstances in play at those times are still largely prevalent.

The deal-makers in Ann Arbor simply lowered
their standards to allow Harbaugh to be hired.

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