The wish list for the Orioles has shrunk with Kevin Gregg finally entering the fold… but is January the time for Orioles?  Not with the Ravens in the playoffs.  There is no reason why the Ravens should struggle all that mightily against the Chiefs, which is why they will struggle mightily against the Chiefs.  If there is one thing we have seen this team do its play to the level of their opponent.  In the playoffs, that is a dangerous game to play.  I am just glad Baltimore won’t have to face Indianapolis unless they reach the AFC title game.  Division round matchup against the Steelers?  I’ll take that over a Wild Card against Indy any day.  Let’s line up for the kick…

Rodriguez Out, Michigan Gets Ridiculously Late Start on Coaching Search

Living in Ann Arbor, Michigan football is hard to avoid (as much as I would want to avoid it at the moment).  In one of the most bungled and overdue coaching moves since, well, Michigan in 2007, the university has fired Rich Rodriguez but waited until January 5 to do so and only then started a new coaching search.  So the new coach will only have at most about two weeks to salvage an already nearly lost recruiting class and keep the nucleus of talented players that Rich Rod had assembled in the fold for next season.  With the “other” Harbaugh having dreams of the NFL (and his wife not wanting to come to Ann Arbor), Michigan fans are left to hope that AD Dave Brandon will break the bank for a new big-name coach, that is, one not named Brady Hoke.

While Rodriguez gets much of the blame for the failure of his teams (rightly so), attention must be paid to the administration and athletic department that created the worst possible environment for success.  At every turn they left Rodriguez to take the bullet even when he wasn’t responsible, failed to get behind him in public and undermined him in private.  In retrospect it was the wrong hire- but perhaps it was the wrong hire because you should never hire a coach you aren’t prepared to support.  Watching him twist in the wind for three years, alone among a sea of rich alumni and administrators who wanted him gone before he arrived has not been pleasant.  Most Michigan fans wish him well, because we know he got some pretty terrible treatment here.  As a Michigan fan I hope other candidates don’t shy away because of it.

Luck Stays in School while Harbaugh Enjoys the Spotlight

Andrew Luck has said over and over how important his education is to him- now he has proven it.  Not only is Luck taking the risk that many college players (like Sam Bradford and Brian Brohm before him) do in returning to school rather than be the #1 pick in the draft, he may be passing up far more than a year of salary.  Sure, there is always the risk of falling in the draft a la Jake Locker or Brian Brohm, or getting injured like Sam Bradford (though that didn’t seem to harm him much), but with a new collective bargaining agreement on the way a rookie wage scale could be in the works.  Such a scale would massively cut back on rookie contracts and pull back the recent trend of ballooning first round contracts.  I love how the players need to take a wage scale because the teams lack fiscal discipline, but that’s another column.

Jim Harbaugh has to be enjoying this.  I don’t believe I have ever seen a coaching candidate so universally adored by teams at the college and professional levels.  Harbaugh has his alma mater willing to back up a truck of cash for him, the Broncos, 49ers, and Dolphins wining and dining him, and can always go back to Stanford with his first overall pick quarterback ready to go.  Yes, he has resurrected Stanford, but are we drawing too many conclusions based on a four year FBS coaching career?  Perhaps it’s the NFL playing experience or the square jaw that gets people as much as anything else.  Attractive candidate?  Of course.  But I am not comparing him to Lombardi just yet.