Saturday, November 24, 2007

the Chirping Cardinal | by Jay

I love the BMFDF of Stanford, Jim Harbaugh. I mean that sincerely. He runs his mouth, talks out of line and isn't afraid to stir the pots of the PTB in college football. But he's a blast. Earlier this year he told everyone that Pete Carroll wasn't long for Southern Cal and was only going to stay one more year. Carroll was pissed. "If he's going to make statements like that, he ought to get his information right," Carroll said at the time. "And if he has any questions about it he should call me." Harbaugh fired right back: "We bow to no man...We bow to no program at Stanford University." And then he backed up his words, knocking off #1 Southern Cal in one of the most improbable upsets of the year.

Harbaugh also mixes in some truth with his braggadocio from time to time. Harbaugh, if you recall, spent much of the spring poking the hornet's nest in Ann Arbor, railing against Michigan's academic inequities and chastising them for 1) pushing players into easy classes and then 2) failing to graduate them. Carr, Mike Hart, and just about all of Wolverine Nation savagely attacked him, branding him a Benedict Arnold, or worse: Hart even told him he wasn't a "true Michigan man." (Because ND was mentioned so many times in the Harbaugh-UM crossfire I started to keep a file of articles and links, but a BGS piece never materialized. You can catch up on the grist from my Trapper-Keeper here, if you're interested. There's some good stuff in there if you ever get in a debate about Michigan academics vis-a-vis football.) The war of words dragged on all summer, and bridges were burnt to charred embers. So when Harbaugh preemptively took himself out of the running for the Michigan job earlier this week, it was either press-conference-as-performance-art, or a genius bit of comedy, depending on your artistic tastes. I loved it.

Harbaugh's been pretty low key towards the ND game this week, which is probably the right tack to take. He knows neither team is very good, so there's no reason to get the Irish fired up with some bulletin board material. As it stands right now, his Cardinal are a 4- to 5-point favorite.