Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh speaks during the national championship celebration at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024.

Reports: Jim Harbaugh expected to interview with Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers are expected to meet this week with Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh for their vacant head-coaching position, multiple media reports reported.

Harbaugh, a former NFL quarterback and head coach, guided the Wolverines (15-0) to the College Football Playoff national championship in a 34-13 win over Washington last Monday.

Considered a highly desired candidate with seven NFL teams currently looking for head coaches, Harbaugh, 60, has gone 89-25 at his alma mater and made three consecutive CFP appearances. He also coached at the University of San Diego (2004-06) and has a 118-46 record as a head coach at Stanford (2007-10) and Michigan (2015-present).

He could be looking to get back to the NFL, where he went 44-19-1 as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-14, including the 2012 NFC championship title and a loss to the Baltimore Ravens, coached by his older brother John Harbaugh, in Super Bowl XLVII. Jim Harbaugh played in the league from 1987-2000 for four teams, including his final two seasons for the Chargers.

Harbaugh was suspended twice during the 2023 season at Michigan for alleged recruiting violations and a sign-stealing scandal, with the NCAA having ongoing investigations.

The Chargers have confirmed they have interviewed other candidates for the head-coaching position in recent days: 49ers defensive coordinator Steve Wilks, Ravens offensive coordinator Todd Monken and defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, Las Vegas Raiders DC Patrick Graham and two internal candidates — interim head coach Giff Smith and OC Kellen Moore.

Los Angeles fired Brandon Staley and general manager Tom Telesco on Dec. 15.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Chargers also have interviewed candidates for the GM job: Ravens director of player personnel Joe Hortiz, New York Giants assistant GM Brandon Brown and Chargers interim GM JoJo Wooden.

The Times reported that the team was expected on Sunday to interview Leslie Frazier, a veteran NFL defensive coordinator and former Minnesota Vikings head coach.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2024; Pasadena, CA, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh (center) celebrates with quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) and running back Blake Corum (2) after defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2024 Rose Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy, RB Blake Corum declare for NFL draft

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy and running back Blake Corum announced over social media on Sunday that they are entering the 2024 NFL Draft.

McCarthy is skipping his senior season to enter the draft. Corum had another year of eligibility due to an additional year being granted for players who were on rosters in the pandemic year.

“After three incredible years at the University of Michigan, I have decided to enter the 2024 NFL Draft,” McCarthy wrote. “I have talked to many in and out of football, including my family, Coach (Jim) Harbaugh, and many who’s opinions I greatly admire and respect. This decision was not easy and how could it be — I love my teammates. I love my coaches and I love it here in Ann Arbor.”

McCarthy’s announcement came one day before the deadline for underclassmen to enter the draft. The 2024 NFL Draft is April 25-27 in Detroit.

McCarthy guided the Wolverines to a 15-0 season, capped off with a national championship following a 34-13 win over Washington last Monday.

Named the Big Ten’s Quarterback of the Year, McCarthy completed 72.3 percent of his passes for 2,991 yards with 22 touchdowns and four interceptions this season. He owns a 27-1 record as a starter at Michigan.

Corum rushed for 1,245 yards and 27 touchdowns during his senior season in 2023. He was named the offensive MVP in the title game versus the Huskies.

“Michigan, thank you for everything!!” Corum wrote on social media. “Onto the next chapter in my journey!! #2024nfldraft”

–Field Level Media

Dec 1, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Washington Huskies head coach Kalen DeBoer and quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) celebrate after the Pac-12 Championship game against the Oregon Ducks Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

CFP notebook: Washington can give Pac-12 a champion’s farewell

The College Football Playoff title game against Michigan is Washington’s final contest as a member of the Pac-12.

The Huskies move into the Big Ten next season, and one of their nine conference games in their debut season will be against Michigan.

The Wolverines are scheduled to visit the Huskies in Seattle on Oct. 5.

“Certainly, they’re on our schedule a year from now and it’s a whole different deal that we’ll be involved with as far as a new conference,” Washington coach Kalen DeBoer said. “I think this year where we’re at right now in the season, this is all about really us representing the Pac-12 and going to win a national championship for our program and finishing off this season for this group of guys that have worked really hard.”

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh is trying to keep the rematch as a topic for another time.

“Yeah, I guess I have thought about that,” Harbaugh said of the 2024 matchup. “I’m thinking more about the here and now for sure.”

–While Harbaugh repeatedly taps around questions regarding Michigan sign-stealing allegations, quarterback J.J. McCarthy made some pointed comments this week involving the team’s fiercest rival while trying to defend the Wolverines.

“I also feel like it’s so unfortunate because there’s probably — I don’t want to say a crazy number, but I’d say a good number — 80 percent of the teams in college football steal signs,” McCarthy said. “It’s just a thing about football. It’s been around for years.

“We actually had to adapt because in 2020 or 2019 when Ohio State was stealing our signs, which is legal and they were doing it, we had to get up to the level that they were at, and we had to make it an even playing field.”

Harbaugh was suspended for the final three games of the regular season due to the issue. The NCAA is still investigating the situation.

Harbaugh also served a three-game suspension at the outset of the season for his role in NCAA violations involving recruiting and coaching time.

Michigan players continue to say that suspensions and scrutiny of the program have been fuel for their success.

“Things happen along the way that don’t kind of fall into place,” Wolverines defensive tackle Mason Graham said. “We’ve overcome a lot of adversity this season. I’ve felt like it’s brought us closer together, and I think everyone is starting to see this in the outside world.”

–Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has received considerable acclaim for a stellar season that includes being named Heisman Trophy runner-up.

His top receiver, Rome Odunze, operates in a relative vacuum despite setting a program record with 1,553 receiving yards, third-most in Pac-12 history. Odunze also has 87 receptions and needs eight catches on Monday to set that school mark as well.

“I think a big thing is his consistency,” Penix said of Odunze. “You see that each and every week on a consistent basis. He doesn’t just do it on game day, either. He shows up in practice, always giving the best looks, the best reps that he can to help his team, and that’s what I think makes him so special.”

Odunze had six receptions for 125 yards in the CFP semifinal win against Texas. The 100-yard outing was his 10th of the season.

–Michigan running back Blake Corum’s decisive touchdown against Alabama in the Rose Bowl was his 56th career rushing score, snapping a tie with Anthony Thomas (55 from 1997-2000) for the school record.

Corum is second in Michigan history with 354 career points, tied with former kicker Garrett Rivas (2003-06). Former kicker Jake Moody (2018-22) holds the school mark of 355.

–Field Level Media

Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) pass the ball during the Sugar Bowl College Football Playoff semi-finals at the Ceasars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, Jan. 1, 2024. The Huskies won the game over the Texas Longhorns 37-31.

Washington, Michael Penix Jr. take aim at Michigan in CFP title clash

Michael Penix Jr. claims he doesn’t remember much about slaying Michigan in 2020 when he was the quarterback at Indiana.

It’s safe to say what happens Monday night, good or bad, will stick in his memory bank much longer.

Penix will lead No. 2 Washington into the College Football Playoff national championship game against No. 1 Michigan on Monday in Houston, where the pair of 14-0 teams both will look to end long title droughts.

The Wolverines haven’t claimed the national title since winning in split fashion in 1997. The Huskies’ drought is a little longer, dating back to another season of co-champions in 1991.

The matchup is the last of the four-team CFP era. A 12-team playoff system will begin next season.

The contest also could be the final one at Michigan for coach Jim Harbaugh as NFL coaching rumors are flying fast and furious.

To get that title, Harbaugh’s defense must slow Penix, the Heisman Trophy runner-up who is third all-time in Washington history in passing yardage (9,289) and touchdown passes (66) despite playing in just 27 games for the school since transferring from Indiana.

Harbaugh hasn’t forgotten that Penix carved up the Michigan defense to the tune of 342 yards and three touchdowns in Indiana’s 38-21 win in 2020.

“He’s a super great player. My impressions of him when he played at Indiana were the same,” Harbaugh said this week. “Big-time arm talent, tremendous presence in the pocket, sees the field really well. He is so polished. … Yeah, it’s at an elite level.”

Yet Penix insists he has very little recall of what was a major deal for the Hoosiers — ending a 24-game losing streak to the Wolverines.

“I don’t really remember much. I just remember winning, really,” Penix said. “That was during the COVID year and it’s a totally different ballgame.”

Said Washington coach Kalen DeBoer: “I think the irony is that, yeah, he’s playing another Big Ten team that he’s faced before. It’s a cool moment for us as a team and for him as well.”

Washington leads the FBS with 21 consecutive wins after outlasting No. 3 Texas 37-31 in the CFP semifinals at the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1. The Huskies’ last 10 games have all been decided by 10 or fewer points.

Michigan continued its stellar season by rallying for a 27-20 overtime victory over No. 4 Alabama in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

Wolverines star running back Blake Corum scored the decisive points on a 17-yard run in OT before the defense stuffed the Crimson Tide on fourth down to end it.

Corum has set the Michigan single-season rushing touchdown record with 25 while also topping 1,000 rushing yards for the second straight season. He has 1,111 rushing yards this season.

“I feel like he in my eyes is the most valuable player of our team,” Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy said. “… I feel like he’s one of the guys that makes our offense go.”

Hanging over the Michigan program is the sign-stealing controversy that led to a three-game suspension for Harbaugh to complete the regular season.

There is speculation that the program could be stripped of wins or perhaps even the national title if it should win.

“I don’t know if you want to live in rumorville or speculation,” Harbaugh said, “but we just don’t really have any room to be doing that at this point.”

Michigan holds an 8-5 lead in the all-time series and defeated the visiting Huskies 31-10 in 2021. Corum rushed for 171 yards and three touchdowns.

That game seems like a distant memory to defensive end Bralen Trice, one of the Washington players who played that day in Ann Arbor.

“Yeah, that was a while back, completely different team, different group of guys, but now we have a whole different team, whole different coaching staff, and we have a way better team, way better thing going out here,” Trice said. “But the level of preparation and the mindset that this team has is a lot different than that in the past. It’s a different time, it’s a different era, and this is a team of winners.”

Washington running back Dillon Johnson (leg) is expected to play despite being hurt late in the victory over Texas. He has rushed for 1,162 yards and 16 touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2024; Pasadena, CA, USA; Michigan Wolverines running back Blake Corum (2) scores a touchdown past Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Deontae Lawson (32) and defensive back Caleb Downs (2) in the 2nd quarter of the 2024 Rose Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

No. 1 Michigan rallies to beat No. 4 Alabama in OT Rose Bowl thriller

Blake Corum ran for the winning touchdown in overtime and top-seeded Michigan advanced to the College Football Playoff national championship game with a 27-20 overtime victory over fourth-seeded Alabama on Monday in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

Corum rushed for 83 yards and also caught a touchdown pass as Michigan (14-0) won a CFP contest for the first time. J.J. McCarthy completed 17 of 27 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns for the Wolverines.

Michigan will face either second-seeded Washington or third-seeded Texas in the national championship game on Jan. 8 in Houston. The Huskies and Longhorns meet later Monday night in the Sugar Bowl.

The Crimson Tide (12-2) had an opportunity to force a second overtime but Jalen Milroe was stopped for a gain of 1 on a fourth-down keeper from the 3-yard line, prompting Michigan to go wild celebrating its victory.

Jase McClellan rushed for 87 yards and two touchdowns for Alabama. Milroe was 16-of-23 passing for 116 yards and added 63 yards on the ground.

Corum handled the ball on both of Michigan’s overtime plays. He ran for 8 yards on the first carry before bursting through on the go-ahead 17-yard scoring run.

Tyler Morris and Roman Wilson also caught touchdown passes for Michigan. Braiden McGregor had two sacks for the Wolverines, who outgained the Crimson Tide 351-288.

Alabama took a 17-13 lead on the second play of the fourth quarter when McClellan scored from the 3.

The Crimson Tide later worked the clock for 5:49 and took a 20-13 lead when Will Reichard kicked a 52-yard field goal with 4:41 left in regulation.

The Wolverines converted on fourth-and-2 from their own 33 on the tying eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. McCarthy capped it with a 4-yard scoring pass to Wilson with 1:34 remaining to set up the third overtime game of the CFP era.

Michigan outgained Alabama 197-96 in the first half en route to a 13-10 lead at the break.

The Crimson Tide struck first after their touchdown was set up on a fumbled punt return by the Wolverines’ Semaj Morgan. Quandarrius Robinson recovered at the Michigan 44-yard line. Four plays later, McClellan broke loose for a 34-yard scoring run with 9:41 left in the first quarter.

Michigan tied the score five-plus minutes later when McCarthy tossed an 8-yard touchdown pass to Corum.

The Wolverines took a 13-7 lead when McCarthy hit Morris on a 38-yard scoring play. However, William Wagner’s errant snap got past holder Tommy Doman to leave Michigan up by six with 3:49 left in the half.

Reichard booted a 50-yard field goal with seven seconds left in the half to bring Alabama within three.

–Field Level Media

Nov 25, 2023; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines offensive lineman Zak Zinter (65) is carted off by medics after an injury during the second half of the NCAA football game against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium. Ohio State lost 30-24. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-USA TODAY Sports

MIchigan OL Zak Zinter offers thanks after leg surgery

Michigan offensive lineman Zak Zinter offered a smile and a thumbs-up on social media Sunday after undergoing surgery for a broken tibia and fibula.

Zinter was injured in the third quarter of Michigan’s key 30-24 victory over Ohio State that moved the Wolverines up to No. 2 in the Associated Press rankings.

A preseason first-team All-American, Zinter’s Wolverines teammates were on the field as he was loaded onto a cart and taken off the field following his gruesome injury. Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy offered hugs to Zinter’s parents.

When Blake Corum scored on a 22-yard run after Zinter’s injury, he put up six fingers, then five as a tribute to his teammate, who wears No. 65.

“Thanks for having my back boys and finishing strong!” Zinter posted to social media Sunday after his surgery. “I’ll be back better than ever.”

Zinter added that he plans to be in Indianapolis on Saturday for Michigan’s Big Ten Championship Game matchup against Iowa.

–Field Level Media

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh's college football program is being investigated for sign-stealing.

Jim Harbaugh accepts suspension; Big Ten ends Michigan investigation

Officials at Michigan said the university is dropping its appeal of football coach Jim Harbaugh’s three-game suspension from the Big Ten, ending its litigation against the conference.

In exchange, the Big Ten agreed to close its investigation into allegations of sign-stealing.

The university was seeking an injunction that would have allowed Harbaugh to be on the sideline Saturday against Maryland, and the two sides were due in court on Friday.

“This morning, the University, Coach Harbaugh, and the Big Ten resolved their pending litigation. The Conference agreed to close its investigation, and the University and Coach Harbaugh agreed to accept the three-game suspension,” read Michigan’s statement, which added Harbaugh “decided to accept this sanction to return the focus to our student-athletes and their performance on the field.”

The Big Ten suspended Harbaugh for three games last Friday amid an investigation into allegations of sign-stealing and in-person scouting by at least one former member of his staff. At the time, the Big Ten said there was no evidence linking Harbaugh to wrongdoing but that he was suspended as the face of the program.

“The Conference has confirmed that it is not aware of any information suggesting Coach Harbaugh’s involvement in the allegations,” Michigan’s statement read. “The University continues to cooperate fully with the NCAA’s investigation.”

In its own statement, the Big Ten said Michigan’s action is “indicative of the high standards and values that the Conference and the University seek to uphold.

“The University of Michigan is a valued member of the Big Ten Conference and the Conference will continue to work cooperatively with the University and the NCAA during this process,” the statement said.

The Big Ten suspension was only for games, meaning Harbaugh can coach in practice throughout the week. He was not present when No. 3 Michigan defeated then-No. 10 Penn State on the road.

The Wolverines travel to Maryland this weekend and then face No. 2 Ohio State at home, with a berth in the Big Ten title game — and potentially the College Football Playoff — on the line.

Offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore, who led the Wolverines against Penn State, will be the interim head coach against Maryland. A win would give Michigan football its 1,000th victory in school history.

–Field Level Media

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh's college football program is being investigated for sign-stealing.

Big Ten serves Michigan notice of potential discipline

The Big Ten Conference formally notified the University of Michigan of potential disciplinary action pertaining to the football team’s sign-stealing scandal, school officials told media outlets Monday evening.

The notice of disciplinary action is an early step in the process written into the Big Ten’s sportsmanship policy.

“In the event it becomes clear that an institution is likely to be subjected to disciplinary action, the Commissioner shall notify that institution or individual at the earliest reasonable opportunity,” the policy says. “Under no circumstances shall the Commissioner comment publicly regarding either an investigation or disciplinary action without having first provided notice to any involved institution or individual.”

Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel, a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee, said in a statement that he is not traveling to the Dallas area for this week’s rankings meeting “but instead will stay in Ann Arbor, attending to important matters regarding the ongoing investigation into our football program.”

Both signs point to a disciplinary ruling coming down the pipeline from Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti in the near future. The Athletic reported that officials expect a resolution by the middle of the week.

Connor Stalions, the football analyst identified as the person of interest at the center of the alleged sign-stealing, resigned on Friday after spending two weeks serving a suspension with pay.

Michigan is under investigation for allegations of impermissible off-campus scouting and sign-stealing. Multiple outlets have reported that Stalions had purchased game tickets to watch Big Ten foes as well as several potential College Football Playoff opponents such as Georgia, Clemson and Alabama. Stalions also reportedly bought seats at numerous Big Ten games in areas where the opponents’ sideline signals could be viewed.

In a statement via his attorney when he resigned, Stalions said he was not told by head coach Jim Harbaugh “nor any other coach or staff member” to break any rules, nor were they aware of his conduct.

Harbaugh has denied having knowledge of any wrongdoing. Michigan is planning to respond with legal action if the Big Ten chooses to suspend Harbaugh indefinitely, ESPN and The Athletic reported.

The NCAA joined a separate investigation being conducted by Central Michigan over whether Stalions snuck onto the Chippewas’ sideline during their Sept. 1 season opener at Michigan State.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh watches from the sideline beside off-field analyst Connor Stalions, right, during the NCAA football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium.

Reports: Michigan fires Connor Stalions amid sign-stealing allegations

Michigan has fired football analyst Connor Stalions, the staffer linked to the NCAA’s investigation into allegations of sign-stealing, several outlets reported Friday.

Stalions was pinpointed as a person of interest in the investigation two weeks ago, and the Wolverines suspended him on Oct. 20.

Since then, multiple outlets have reported that Stalions had purchased game tickets for Big Ten foes as well as several potential College Football Playoff opponents like Georgia, Clemson and Alabama. Previous reports indicated that Stalions bought seats at numerous Big Ten games in areas where the opponents’ sidelined play signals could be viewed.

Officials at Central Michigan were reviewing photos that could depict Connor Stalions roaming its sidelines in the season opener at Michigan State, ESPN reported Tuesday.

Scouting opponents is not illegal in the eyes of the NCAA, albeit with one major exception. NCAA Bylaw 11.6.1 reads as follows: “Off-campus, in-person scouting of future opponents (in the same season) is prohibited.”

–Field Level Media

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh's college football program is being investigated for sign-stealing.

Jim Harbaugh denies Michigan pulled extension offer

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh pushed back against multiple reports that a contract extension is being withdrawn or at least put on hold due to the ongoing sign-stealing investigation, telling reporters he “wouldn’t say that’s accurate.”

He added it is against policy to talk about ongoing contract negotiations.

The NCAA is looking into the situation that includes potential recording of opponents’ sideline audio as well as unauthorized scouting.

Staff member Connor Stalions, the main figure in the alleged sign-stealing activities, has been suspended.

Under Harbaugh, the Wolverines have won 33 of their past 36 games and made the College Football Playoff twice. They are 8-0 (5-0 Big Ten) this season and, after having this past Saturday off, play Purdue Nov. 4.

Among the many details reported by various outlets, Sports Illustrated cited sources claiming Michigan’s ball boys on the opponent sideline listened to play calls and relayed the information. SI said the ball boys would hold a football in one hand for “run” and the other hand for “pass” plays.

At the outset of the investigation, Harbaugh issued a denial.

“I do not have any knowledge or information regarding the University of Michigan football program illegally stealing signals, nor have I directed staff members or others to participate in an off-campus scouting assignment,” he said.

“I have no awareness of anyone on our staff having done that or having directed that action.”

On Monday he referenced that statement, adding that he’s not focusing on the investigation.

“We’re in an onward mode,” he said.

The contract extension reports said the potential deal would make Harbaugh the highest-paid coach in college football.

–Field Level Media