Some say he's crazy and others believe he's "clinically insane," but Michigan Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh is nothing if not determined.

The former Stanford and San Francisco 49ers coach, who will do just about anything to motivate his players, showed serious perseverance in scoring a date with his wife, Sarah.

Harbaugh opens up about his courtship in an interview with HBO Real Sports correspondent Andrea Kremer. He says he met Sarah, whom he married in 2008, at a restaurant. He asked for her number and proceeded to call her nine -- yes, nine -- times before getting a return call.

"I could tell she was a winner all the way," Harbaugh says.

That is dedication. The fact that Harbaugh remembers the exact number, he called her nine times, might mean it's something he's proud of. And he should be, seeing as he got what he wanted.

The couple has two daughters and a son. They've also starred in this hilarious Dockers commercial after Jim received some criticism for his less-than-stylish wardrobe:

Incidentally, Harbaugh was asked about his khakis during his interview with Kremer. He said he wears them mostly because of convenience.

"I like the khakis," Harbaugh says. "If I wear them every day, I don't have to spend time thinking about what to wear. It saves 5-10, at least five minutes, maybe 15 if you're just standing in front of your closet, trying to think of, otherwise, what the right or appropriate outfit is to wear."

For another clip from the special, in which Harbaugh talks about growing up in Ann Arbor while his dad served as an assistant coach for the Wolverines, see here.

Jim Harbaugh's homecoming to Ann Arbor as Michigan coach will be one of the major storylines in the upcoming college football season. Even before Harbaugh became a star quarterback for the Wolverines, he was a fixture on the sideline because his dad, Jack, was an assistant coach at the school.

After a messy split with the 49ers, Harbaugh gets a fresh start to restore Michigan football to glory. The Wolverines' on-the-field struggles exposed an even larger management failure within the athletic department. But getting the football program back on the beam will go a long way to solving many of those problems.

Here's a preview of the Real Sports report with correspondent Andrea Kremer that premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT:

At UAB, college football is history. The school cancelled its own program after this season, becoming the first Division-I school to bow out of football since 1995.

But the school is embracing its transition to has-been with open arms: its course catalog will now feature a class titled, "History of College Football."

Few schools are better-equipped to handle such curriculum, as most others are busy worrying about football of the present and future. But UAB Blazers students can now replace their Saturday tailgating and football parties with delving into the written history of the game.

Actually, that's not quite right. The course will be offered in the summer, so the fall will remain football-free.

Nevertheless, students have an opportunity for rich engagement with the subject of football.

According to, the class will "explore the fascinating world of college football: the great teams, dynasties, coaches, players, pageantry and the game's great and enduring rivalries."

That includes some of the more unseemly aspects of the sport, such as its evolution into a major business and the scandals that have plagued it over the years.

But will UAB be used as a case study of its high costs and money-minded shift? Let's hope the local perspective is on the syllabus.

For those who aren't aware, UAB decided to drop its football program last year after the school concluded that football was not a commercially viable sport. The school was facing a shortfall of millions of dollars to keep the school up-and-running, and even efforts to raise funds in support of the program couldn't come close to rescuing the program.

Before UAB, the last school to close its football program was Pacific almost 20 years ago.

He was Ohio State's best player in its most important game of the season. He torched Nick Saban's vaunted defense like no back had for a decade. Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer called him "a monster."

And yet, despite all of this, star running back Ezekiel Elliott cannot go pro.

Elliott graduated high school in 2013, and because the NFL stipulates that a player must be three years removed from high school graduation in order to enter the draft, Elliott would be barred from submitting his name for this year's selection.

This isn't a new rule, and it has been challenged before. But with Elliott's stellar turn in Monday's championship game -- he had 36 carries for 246 yards and four touchdowns -- some are wondering whether Elliott should think about turn pro.

Both Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and Sean Gregory of Time tackled the subject, with Florio saying Elliott should take 2015 off and Gregory saying Elliott should be allowed to enter the draft.

Florio and Gregory both note that Elliott's stock will likely never be as high as it is now. And with an ever-present risk for injury -- former Georgia running back Todd Gurley and South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore both suffered knee injuries that affected their draft stock -- it seems risky for Elliott to have to play another year in college. Florio says Elliott should leave the Buckeyes and prepare for the 2016 draft. Gregory says its unfair to bar Elliott from the draft.

Of course, Elliott isn't the first Ohio State running back to raise questions about the NFL's age restrictions after a strong national championship performance. A decade ago Maurice Clarrett sued the NFL for not letting him enter the 2004 draft. As a true freshman, Clarrett was the leading rusher on Ohio State's 2002 national championship team.

Clarrett's story has become a cautionary tale. He lost the appeal and was forced to wait until 2005. He was selected in the third round of that year's draft by the Denver Broncos but he never played a down in the NFL. He encountered various legal and financial woes after getting cut by the Broncos.

Clarrett on Wednesday offered his opinion on the topic in an Instagram post:

The lawyer who represented Clarrett in his failed attempt to go pro early, Alan Milstein, apparently isn't on the same page as his former client. Milstein told Time that he thinks the NFL's rule is illegal.

“The only reason a team wouldn’t draft Elliott is because they’ve all said we won’t draft him if you won’t draft him,” Milstein said. “That’s the essence of an anti-trust conspiracy.”

Of course, this will only become an issue if Elliott expresses any desire to turn pro. And as Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel notes, that hasn't happened yet:


Ever since the Jerry Sandusky scandal broke loose, the Penn State community has insisted on one thing: Joe Paterno and Nittany Lion football were not to blame. Paterno was and is -- perhaps now in an official capacity -- a saint, and Penn State was his church. One serial child molester among the lot does not implicate Paterno as the leader of a corrupt system, a maligned football program that uses its lofty status to incubate criminals from their actions.

Whatever you think of Joe Paterno and the degree of his culpability in Sandusky's no-less-than-45 counts of sexual abuse, it's clear that some fault exists. Oblivion is not the same as willful disregard, but the end result is basically the same. At any rate, the world came down hard on Paterno, with intense pressure from outsiders pushing the university into a quick firing and disassociation with its only head football coach since 1966.

The attempts, which claim some paltry renumeration or justice for Sandusky's victims, left Penn State and Joe Paterno devastated. After Paterno's firing, the NCAA stripped him of 111 wins that came during the period of Sandusky's abuses -- and after the point at which Paterno should have put two and two together. His statue outside of Beaver Stadium was taken down despite protests against the move. Penn State football escaped the ultimate punishment of having the NCAA shut the program down entirely; instead, it was hit with a four-year postseason ban and a loss of scholarships.

Public outcry was ear-splitting, particularly on social media -- the Internet Outrage Machine spun out a hunger for retribution that could never be sated (reasonably, if you consider that Sandusky's crimes could not be undone). The university was levied a $60 million fine for its central role as a facilitator and, in some cases, scene of the crime in Sandusky's various abuses. Its damaged reputation will likely take generations to restore, although residents of Happy Valley seem to have taken an insulating "us against the world" mentality.

The idea was to obliterate Penn State, respond to unprecedented tragedy with unprecedented consequence. At the time, it seemed like those measures were being taken.

And they were. But now, that strong response is quietly undergoing revision.

We're barely three years away from the outbreak of the Jerry Sandusky scandal, and the tone of conversation surrounding the saga has changed quite a bit. The NCAA has shrugged aside its almost merciless bent on justice -- or public relations, you make the interpretation -- and as of Friday restored the 111 Paterno wins it stripped from the program. The four-year bowl ban was already reduced to two -- this year, the program won the 2014 Pinstripe Bowl -- and plans to restore football scholarships ahead of schedule are already underway.

The $60 million fine remains, but Penn State and the NCAA are reportedly discussing how those funds will be applied -- the university wants the money to help fund child protection and other services. And while the Paterno statue outside of Beaver Stadium remains in storage at an undisclosed location, the Happy Valley community last spring approved funding for a new statue to go up in the center of town.

In other words, Penn State is no longer the bad guy. That's not an observation; it's the implication of the NCAA's actions and the public's relative lack of concern with how Paterno's legacy is handled. The Internet Outrage Machine that spun out swift and weighty backlash, that wanted Paterno burned at the stake right alongside Jerry Sandusky, has moved on. Time has healed, or at least it has distracted, and the conditions are right for Penn State and the NCAA to do what they want, as opposed to what is politically correct.

It seems a little suspicious that certain adjustments to those dispensed consequences -- particularly the restoration of Paterno's wins -- came after a period of leaking the possibilities out to the media. You have to think the NCAA and Penn State were watching the public reaction, interested in using those leaks as a barometer for what kind of backlash they might face. The response, of course, was tepid: Some voices were in support of the wins restoration, some were against the move. But none of them were loud. None posed a threat.

The fine is no small thing, granted. Even so, life within the domain of Penn State football is precariously close to something like normal.

Here's the lingering unknown: Is that the right thing?

Anyone supporting this drift toward normalcy will say that what has happened won't be forgotten. That's a pretty safe assumption. They'll say punishment has been dispensed, which is true: Penn State was financially rocked, Paterno died in disgrace just months after he was fired, and Sandusky is in jail for life. They'll say Penn State has done everything it can to prevent something like this from happening again, which is just about true. They'll say nothing more can be done, and that it's not fair to inflict pain just for pain's sake.

Fair enough. And maybe some of the NCAA and Penn State's actions were knee-jerk products of some of the most intense public outcry we've ever seen -- driven, of course, by social media's then-blooming political power. But perhaps the span of three short years has distorted the scale of atonement we are seeking. To swim through hell for three years only to resurface at the pearly gates of a new day seems insincere to the national nightmare that took place in Happy Valley.

This isn't just a Penn State football issue: People across the country were rocked not by the scandal itself, and certainly not because of any belief or faith they held in Joe Paterno. They reacted out of the fear of such a tragedy's possibility, in such a public and presumably safe place, among leaders of young men, around the corner from a football power whose personal brand was doing things the right way.

Atonement doesn't simply mean "make sure this doesn't happen again." It doesn't simply mean "suffer." And it sure as hell doesn't mean "Respond in a manner that will silence your critics."

Atonement, in this case, demands that Penn State, the NCAA and everyone involved make sure that the response fits the scale of the crimes. The crimes were enormous. The prospect of it reoccurring anywhere cannot be tolerated. The seriousness of the issue needs to be emphasized, and this expedited repeal process currently ongoing doesn't seem to be a response that fits the circumstances.

In three years, apparently, we've decided that some of our actions were excessive. Impulsive. We took it hard on Joe Paterno and Penn State.

Now, the NCAA wants to recant. And it isn't facing much scrutiny over it.

We aren't getting the consistency we deserve from how the Penn State scandal continues to be viewed. But, then again, those voices that called for every head in Happy Valley aren't rising to the occasion, either. Maybe a numbness has set in; maybe emotion reactions are finally giving way to more reasoned, measured responses.

The tone regarding Penn State has changed. The legacy of Joe Paterno is being rebuilt, brick by brick. It's clear the NCAA was overzealous in jumping to certain punishments, the wins removal included.

In doing so, the organization compromised its ability to effectively deliver punishments in the manner and measure that Penn State -- and Paterno -- deserved.

There's no trophy for this honor, but that's OK: The money is enough. Ohio State has emerged as the most valuable college football program in the country, and it's not even close, according to a recent study.

According to a finance professor at Indiana University-Purdue University, the Buckeyes football program is worth more than $1.1 billion -- by far the best valuation for any college football program. The next best is Michigan, with a valuation just shy of $1 billion.

In third place was Texas, which had topped the professor's list of valuations from last year. Texas' monetary valuation increased by almost $100 from last year's figures, but huge gains in revenue for both Ohio State and Michigan propelled those programs ahead of the Longhorns, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The inflation of sports franchise valuations, spurred on by the last year's sale of the Los Angeles Clippers for a record $2 billion, also inflated figures for college football programs. Last year's rankings featured no teams worth more than $900 million; this year, four programs topped that mark.

There can be a lot of disparity among those figures, too. While Nebraska and Penn State joined Ohio State and Michigan in placing four Big Ten programs in the top 11 valuations nationwide, fellow Big Ten institution Rutgers ranked a measly 67th out of 116 programs, with an intrinsic value of just $62.7 million.

Texas' fall from the top, though -- despite major gains in value -- highlight how volatile the rankings can be. The intrinsic value for each program was reached by analyzing revenues against expenses along with observed risks and growth projections.

At the bottom of the list was Louisiana-Monroe, with a valuation of just $6.4 million.

If that doesn't make it clear that college football is a big-time industry, nothing else will.

Ohio's most famous athlete is doing all he can to support the state's beloved school ahead of Monday night's matchup with the Oregon Ducks.

When Ohio State players returned to their hotel rooms Saturday at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, they found boxes of Beats headphones waiting for them. The man behind these $300 gifts? Akron's very own, LeBron James.

As Ari Wasserman of notes, it took some clever maneuvering for the gifts to be acceptable under the NCAA's strict policies.

"LeBron helped facilitate the connection with Beats by Dre," an Ohio State spokesperson told "The headphones were donated to Ohio State and were distributed within the permissible NCAA limitations on awards."

Interestingly, it appears the Oregon players received headphones as well:

James has strong ties to both schools. He lives and works in Ohio and has made clear that if he had gone to college, he likely would have chosen Ohio State. He is also one of Nike's most valuable endorsers, and as such he frequents the company's headquarters in Eugene, Ore.

On Monday, James posted this photo of himself and Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott:

Giving the young boi Zeke those words! He know what to do with them!! Let's go Buckeyes!! #OH #StriveForGreatness

A photo posted by LeBron James (@kingjames) on

James has endorsed Beats since 2008, when he signed an equity deal with the company. When Apple in 2014 bought Beats for $3 billion, James received a reported $30 million.

Urban Meyer the football coach almost never happened. Long before he had his sights set on running a football team, Meyer was a promising two-sport athlete who was drafted out of high school by the Atlanta Braves.

Meyer was taken in the 13th round of the 1982 MLB draft, and he was designated to the minors. Apparently, he pursued a professional baseball career while simultaneously attending University of Cincinnati and playing defensive back.

A baseball career never materialized, though. Meyer only played in 44 games over two seasons, hitting .182 with one home run and 11 RBI. He was waived after two seasons -- officially by a guy named Hank Aaron, it turns out -- and quit baseball due to various injuries.

Here's a snapshot of Meyer's entry in the Braves organizational record book, via Baseball America:

Meyer's selection places him between two well-known greats. Just nine rounds earlier, the Braves used their fourth-round pick to draft a high schooler named Randy Johnson. Johnson, who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week, turned down the Braves to play baseball and basketball and USC. (He was drafted again in 1985 by the Expos.)

Meanwhile, the Braves picked Meyer two rounds ahead of a guy named Jose Canseco, who was taken by the Oakland Athletics with the last pick of the 15th round.

Pretty esteemed company. Of course, Meyer ended up as successful as anyone -- just in a different career. Safe to say things worked out OK for the ball coach.

To no one's surprise, all those years of hand-wringing over the many-pronged challenges of hosting a college football playoff have proven to be a massive waste of everyone's time. As the buzz of the semifinal round wears off, the lofty rhetoric that opposed a playoff system fell flat on its face, upended by the thunderous applause of everyone who tuned in to watch.

All 28.27 million per game, to be exact.

It's hard to imagine the inaugural College Football Playoff getting off to a better start. Both games were high-scoring affairs. The top-ranked team in the land was upset by late-bloomer that squeaked into the playoffs on the shoulders of a third-string quarterback.

In a matchup of the past two Heisman winners, the villainous defending champs were defeated in glorious fashion by maybe the country's most exciting offense. And, as if bidding formal farewell to the BCS era, the two teams knocked out of the playoffs were the two teams that would have been placed in the BCS title Ggame, according to that system's formula.

You'd be hard-pressed to write a more poetic result yourself.

The excitement of the semifinal round almost overshadows the fact that there's still a game -- the most important one, believe it or not -- to be played.

But at the moment, it feels like a victory has already been declared. The playoffs are here to stay.

And they're only going to get bigger.

The concept of playoff expansion is nothing new. Even before a four-team bracket was set in stone, observers have insisted that a larger field was inevitable. Some considered the four-team version just a test-drive to make sure all the accompanying parts worked before rolling out the playoff on a larger scale.

Unexpected complications or failure could have threatened such a move. Instead, the opposite happened: College football's first playoff went better than anyone expected.

That success makes much of the anti-playoff whimpering sound even more baseless than it was. ESPN's Ivan Maisel complained last spring about how the playoffs were upsetting the traditional habits college football coaches employ to get their team ready for a single bowl game. The prospect of playing two bowl games, he argued, was an inconvenience -- and not worth the change, he suggested.

Evolving game preparation seems like an interesting storyline and a compelling new wrinkle of the playoffs, but it's a stretch to say that creates any disadvantages. If anything, it demands more from coaches. How does that do anything but create even more intrigue?

Concerns about the precious slate of bowl games proved to be largely unfounded. While it's true that games like the Fiesta Bowl -- which featured Boise State upsetting Arizona -- suffered a big decline in ratings from past years, the game also took a back seat to the playoff matchups and set a ratings record in his Wednesday afternoon time slot. Boise State on its own turned a $1.5 million profit for participating, after expenses.

Clearly, there's still enough money to go around. And money is what matters most.

There is, of course, the pretense that academics have been a major concern regarding any playoff system. The risk of having playoff games that overlap with end-of-semester finals is a genuine consideration for every team, but playoff participants aren't close to the scheduling crunch that is sometimes suggested. Even if another round were added to the playoffs, the timeline for such a playoff is easy to work out, even if it means spilling over into the winter semester (as is already the case for the national championship game).

School is no obstacle. No one complains about the sheer havoc a long March Madness run can have on college basketball teams. Players on those teams are forced to miss at least two school days a week for three weeks straight. Even the prescient placement of spring break can't account for all of that travel time. Let's not forget, either, the conference tournaments played one week earlier, which can take teams out of three or more days of school.

An expanded playoff system won't bring football players close to the levels of classroom absentia basketball programs live with every year.

"When people talk about being out of school -- there is nobody out of school less than a football player. Nobody," said Jay Bilas earlier this month in an interview with Sports Illustrated NOW. "Football players only play once a week, and half their games are at home (so they don't have to travel and miss class."

Big playoff money is waiting to be made. And with student-athletes poised to demand a payday from their schools in the near future, the stimulus package of expanded playoffs couldn't come at a better time. Everything is perfect right now, or pretty darn close to perfect, and in the logic of greed, that can only mean one thing:

Get bigger.

Expand or die, College Football Playoffs. Just not too quickly. The current system has a 12-year contract with ESPN, so there's no reason to rush an altered product. Plus, if history is a template, there's little to be gained by instantly rewarding fans with the gratification they need.

Controversy is great for intrigue, after all, and it hasn't hurt college football's current product one iota. The exclusion of TCU does offer some fodder for why playoff expansion could breed even more excitement, but it's all speculative fun with no real implications.

The college football powers-that-be will let those gossip mill churn on as always, and they will likely proceed in the manner they have established for years prior -- a manner both slow and measured, excruciatingly so. Schools and conferences will see it coming around the pike from a long way off -- and many already do, convinced that the four-team bracket is just a transitional phase to a postseason tournament that features eight or 16 teams.

Eventually, the clamor for such change will rise. Fans are abuzz about this year's college football playoff because of what it replaced: An imperfect two-team championship whose participants were decided by a mix of imperfect formulas and questionable public perception.

Talk about a recipe for disaster. Expansion to four teams brought with it a sense of liberation, but that, too, shall pass. The four-team bracket is loaded with points of criticism. It ensures that at least one of the five power conferences will be absent from competition every year. Just imagine the chaos if Notre Dame fields a competitive team. Schools like Boise State would have to be all the more impressive to warrant their inclusion while an entire major conference goes unrepresented.

And no matter where you draw the line -- look at March Madness and its 68-team field -- debate will always rage about the last-ins and the first-outs.

A larger bracket could solve that by offering automatic bids to major conference champions. Such a system would alleviate the risks of nonconference losses and actually improve the early-season college football slate. Imagine if a team could start 0-4 and still play for a national championship by running through its conference? Teams would be incentivized to schedule challenging opponents instead of puff-pastry programs that are happy when they can keep their margin of defeat within 30.

A mix of automatic bids and a few coveted at-large bids would create an unbiased path to the playoffs for many teams, but the all-important imperfection of subjective selection would still be retained. Such a recipe is available even in an eight-team playoff: five conference bids plus three at-larges.

Logistically, that reality isn't that far off. But because it has no incentive, college football won't fast-track an expanded playoff. There's a brand to consider, and college football is at its best when it withholds from its fans their most precious desires.

There are practical financial considerations, such as how the increasing value of the postseason affects the value of the regular season -- expanding the playoffs too much, or too rapidly, could hurt the revenue earned during the regular season, which no one in college football wants.

Because the College Football Playoff is locked into a 12-year television deal, it wouldn't want to cut its per-game earnings -- and its future negotiations -- by giving ESPN a bargain on an expanded playoff. ESPN, for its part, has no reason to offer an enormous financial package when a long-term contract is already in place. Playoff expansion might not become a reality until the current TV deal nears its end, creating an even playing field where television networks are forced to pay a fair market rate.

By then, fans may already be restless for change. Great football teams will have been excluded, wounds inflicted, scars healed over. The four-team playoff will be loathed for its exclusivity, and the leaders of college football will be reviled as the slowest decision-makers in the history of the earth.

And then, one day, the playoffs will expand. Everyone will be happy. It will be the greatest thing to ever happen, and past will seem like a distant memory.

Few will realize that they've been there before.

By almost any metric, the first College Football Playoff will be viewed as a success.

While the national championship game has yet to be played, the semifinal round had everything fans could ask for -- marquee teams, star players and no shortage of drama.

Thanks to these factors the two semifinal games, Florida State-Oregon and Alabama-Ohio State, became the most viewed events in cable TV history. The Rose Bowl averaged 28.16 million viewers while the Sugar Bowl topped that, drawing an average of 28.27 million viewers.

The only non-NFL sporting event of 2014 to earn more viewers than the semifinal games was the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics (31.7 million).

"These record-setting numbers illustrate the enormous fan interest in college football and the wide-ranging appeal of the new College Football Playoff format," said ESPN executive VP for programming and production John Wildhack. "We are excited to build upon this success when we showcase the first-ever College Football Playoff National Championship on ESPN on January 12."

Only four BCS national championship games drew higher audiences than this year's semifinals: USC-Texas in 2006 (35.6 million), Alabama-Texas in 2010 (30.8 million), Ohio State-Miami in 2003 (29.1 million) and Florida-Ohio State in 2007 (28.8 million).

This year's semifinal games featured four large schools with widespread fanbases, the past two Heisman Trophy winners (Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota) and three coaches who have won national championships in the past decade. All told, it led to a spectacular return on investment for ESPN, which paid $7.3 billion for the right to broadcast the College Football Playoff the next 12 years.

This new format may have cost other games, however, as the Orange Bowl and the Fiesta Bowl both recorded drops in ratings. The Orange Bowl fell from 11.4 million for Clemson-Ohio State in 2014 to 8.9 million this year for Georgia Tech-Mississippi State. The Fiesta Bowl's audience of 7.4 million for Boise State-Arizona was, according to the New York Times, its lowest Nielsen rating ever.

At least one expert, Richard Sandomir of the New York Times, thinks the increased intrigue may result in a new title game record. Sandomir predicts the championship game will draw 45 million viewers, which is slightly less than the average for an NFL conference championship.

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