The Weekender: Jim Harbaugh Eyes NFL Amid Nothingburger Investigation at Michigan, Bill Connelly Takes Away Two National Titles From Ohio State, and Taylor Decker is Officially a Good Guy

Own the group chat with The Weekender, highlighting the biggest stories in college sports, standout writing from Eleven Warriors, and a look at what’s next.

Jim Harbaugh Once Again Playing Both Sides of the Coaching Fence

A little under a year ago, Jim Harbaugh was agonizingly close to becoming the head coach of a football team that currently owns a 12-4 record entering the final weekend of the NFL regular season. He was in fact so close to taking the top job in Minnesota, the Wolverines football beat reported that he would leave Ann Arbor if put in a position to sign with the Vikings.

This is why it should come as no surprise that in recent days, Harbaugh has not only begun welcoming consideration to join the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos, but also heavily courted a candidacy for the Carolina Panthers job. Much as Harbaugh allegedly came on too strong with the Minnesota brass the previous offseason, his “persistence” unsurprisingly turned away another potential landing spot despite previous conversations with the team owner.

The pattern of behavior from Harbaugh unfolds in the wake of him trying to dump cold water on the speculative heat of his future just days earlier. Although he offered that he expected to be “enthusiastically coaching Michigan in 2023,” Harbaugh must have been referring to arranging his NFL interviews when hinting just prior that, “no one knows what the future holds.”

Just the latest nothingburger in what has become a parade of nothingburger meals across Michigan football and athletics. Harbaugh downplayed his interest in moving on from the Wolverines apparently about as effectively as he downplayed his story to the NCAA about failing to recall treating a pair of committed recruits to nothingburgers at The Brown Jug restaurant.

Nothing to see with Jim Harbaugh trying to leave town. Nothing to see with Jim Harbaugh taking recruits out of town. Nothing to do with how Harbaugh handled the fallout surrounding Mazi Smith or recurring instigations of conflict in the Big House tunnel.

At this rate, the popularity of nothingburgers in Ann Arbor threatens to put Zingerman’s out of business.

Bill Connelly Claims Ohio State Would Not Have Been the “True Champions” in 1954 and 1957

Bill Connelly’s SP+ rankings have become a premier source of evaluative criteria for college football teams in recent seasons, and the standings have regularly been kind to Ohio State teams of late. However, Connelly likely ruffled the feathers of Buckeye fans already stewing after the College Football Playoff when he released his list of undisputed national champions that left OSU with two less titles.

Connelly made the case for Oklahoma receiving the 1954 national title over Ohio State, as well as for Auburn to achieve the honor in 1957 instead of the Buckeyes. Both sides went 10-0 in 1954, while only the Tigers went undefeated in 1957 – although Auburn played no postseason game as it watched Ohio State defeat Oregon in the Rose Bowl.

While Connelly’s reasoning for the above will surely bring forth the wrath of Buckeye historians, he at least distanced himself from favoritism towards any other college football juggernaut. The list also called for Alabama to miss out on all three of the opportunities for undisputed titles in which it was involved. Connelly also awarded the 1947 national title to Michigan away from Notre Dame but stripped their claim to the 1997 championship in favor of Nebraska.

Taylor Decker Receives the Media Good Guy Award

Taylor Decker has always been a good guy, but now he is an award-winning certifiably good guy.

On the final Sunday of the NFL regular season, the Detroit Lions’ starting left tackle won the Media Good Guy Award from the Pro Football Writers of America and Detroit local media.

This is the second time PFWA has honored Decker, as the association also put him on their All-Rookie Team in 2016. This would be the first individual NFL honor Decker has received in his seven-year professional career.

ICYMI

Kirk Herbstreit Says Ryan Day Is Considering Giving Up Playcalling Duties

The former Ohio State quarterback turned quite a few heads this week when he declared the Buckeyes’ head coach intends to stop calling plays next season. Dan Hope offers full context on Herbstreit’s comments and who could serve as a new playcaller with Kevin Wilson off to Tulsa.

Former Syracuse Safety Ja’Had Carter Transferring to OSU

The Buckeyes’ biggest portal-related news of the offseason so far took place in the forthcoming arrival of Ja’Had Carter from Syracuse. Carter arrives in Columbus as 247Sports’ top safety and 12th highest overall player in the portal this cycle.

Inside Lincoln Kienholz’s Journey to Ohio State

Prior to Ohio State’s incoming four-star quarterback recruit throwing a pair of touchdown passes in yesterday’s All-American Bowl, Garrick Hodge spoke with Lincoln Kienholz for a big feature just before being named a Gatorade Player of the Year in South Dakota.

What’s Next

  • Men’s Basketball: vs. Minnesota, Thursday at 6:30 pm ET
  • Women’s Ice Hockey: vs. Wisconsin, Friday at 6 p.m. ET
  • Men’s Ice Hockey: @ Michigan, Friday at 6:30 pm ET
  • Football Season Opener: @ Indiana, Sept. 2nd

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