“This is wrong,” Finebaum said Thursday on ESPN (transcription via Football Scoop). “It may not be illegal by NCAA standards and bylaws as of this moment, but to me, it’s cheating. It’s blatantly disregarding the spirit of the NCAA rule. We all know why he’s doing it. And this is the same person who last year accused Nick Saban of cheating, he accused Hugh Freeze of cheating, and in my mind, and I know you can’t prove it and he won’t be penalized for it, but he’s cheating and why don’t we just face up to it? There’s no other reason why he would hire this man. It’s been done in the past … but it’s still wrong. I don’t know why the media celebrates Jim Harbaugh for disregarding the NCAA rule book and doing things that are in my mind unethical.”
Finebaum is taking a rather peculiar stance here. First off, hiring the coach of a hot prospect is nothing new, though the NCAA may soon be enacting a rule that would curb the practice. Secondly: “it may not be illegal by NCAA standards and bylaws,” but Harbaugh is “disregarding the NCAA rule book”? Not sure that tracks. Thirdly, Johnson has a ton of NCAA coaching experience — most recently as UCLA’s offensive coordinator and interim head coach in 2011 — so it’s not like he has nothing else to offer besides his son.
In any case, Harbaugh took note of Finebaum’s comments and on Thursday night got in a pretty good dig by calling him by the wrong name on Twitter.
But the story took another turn Friday morning, when Sam Webb of Michigan Insider reported that Johnson isn’t even headed to Michigan.
First-year Oregon Coach Willie Taggart — who has coached with both Jim Harbaugh and his father, Jack — has an opening on his staff after his previous wide receivers coach bolted for UCLA. Harbaugh does not.
We’ll update this post with “Pete” Finebaum’s reaction, if we get it.