Harbaugh hype in Ann Arbor is real and spectacular

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Sometimes it can be difficult to compare one year’s spring game attendance from one year to the next and draw any conclusions, but seeing the numbers coming out of Ann Arbor on Saturday raises some eyebrows. It also suggests interest, or rather the enthusiasm, about the program has done a 180 degree turn in short time.

Michigan’s spring game welcomed an estimated 60,000 fans to Michigan Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The good weather certainly helped, as was the chance to see a live game atmosphere from the Wolverines. Oh, and this was the spring game debut of new head coach Jim Harbaugh. There was plenty of reason for Michigan fans to come to Michigan Stadium with interest and vigor. The live scrimmage may not have brought out the best Michigan football possible, but the breath of fresh air surrounding the program was crisp.

Credit that to Harbaugh, with his new signature blue Sharpie hanging around his neck and his Block “M” Michigan hat on his head.

Last year’s open practice at Michigan drew a crowd far smaller than the total showing up on Saturday. An estimated total of 15,000 came out for last season’s live practice. That is quite the jump in one year from the Michigan faithful. Michigan may have the largest stadium in the country, but the 60,000 is believed to be one of the larger crowds on hand for the annual spring game.

Michigan is also starting to see things turn around in season ticket sales. Often a negative discussion point last fall, Michigan Athletics Director Jim Hackett says it is already seeing improvement in ticket sales for the upcoming season. The turnaround has been so significant the Wolverines have started up a waiting list (currently with 1,500 fans added) that has not been used for years.

Speaking with reporters Saturday, Hackett says all 81 of the luxury boxes in Michigan Stadium have been sold out for the upcoming season. This was not the case a year ago.

Every (luxury) box we had for sale is gone, there are no openings there,” Hackett said. “And we had some openings (before Harbaugh was hired). I remember getting informal comments from people after Jim was hired telling me they weren’t going to mail a check in until (they saw who the next coach was).”

Odds seem good we will not be seeing many Coca-Cola ticket promotions in 2015 at Michigan Stadium. Hiring the right coach has already paid off in that respect.

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Miami fires offensive coordinator Josh Gattis after 1 season

josh gattis fired
Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports
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CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Miami fired offensive coordinator Josh Gattis on Friday, ending the former Broyles Award winner’s time with the Hurricanes after only one season.

The school announced the move in a one-sentence press release, with no other detail: “Josh Gattis has been relieved of his duties as offensive coordinator, Miami head football coach Mario Cristobal announced Friday,” read the release, sent from a university spokesman.

The Hurricanes went 5-7 in Gattis’ lone season. He was brought in by Miami only a few weeks after winning the 2021 Broyles Award – given to the nation’s top assistant coach – while serving as Michigan’s offensive coordinator and helping the Wolverines reach the College Football Playoff.

But Miami’s offense, for a number of reasons, failed to meet expectations in 2022. Part of that was injuries; starting quarterback Tyler Van Dyke battled a shoulder injury, and the Hurricanes turned to Jake Garcia – who has since transferred – and Jacurri Brown for much of the season.

Miami scored 100 points in its first two games last fall, overpowering Bethune-Cookman and Southern Miss. The Hurricanes averaged only 18.3 points the rest of the way, and finished the year 5-0 in games where the defense allowed no more than 14 points – but 0-7 when opponents scored more than 14.

Miami was 86th nationally in total offense last season, averaging 367.1 yards per game, and 97th in scoring offense.

Gattis played at Wake Forest and worked at North Carolina, Western Michigan, Vanderbilt, Penn State, Alabama and Michigan before coming to Miami.

Audit: LSU discovered $1M overpayment to Kelly in 2022

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU accidentally overpaid Tigers football coach Brian Kelly by $1 million during the first year of a 10-year, $100 million contract, but discovered the error and has moved to correct it, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s office said Wednesday.

Kelly was overpaid $1,001,368 in supplemental payments in 2022 because duplicate payments made both to Kelly’s LLC and to the coach directly.

The double payments began in May and continued until LSU officials detected the errors in November.

“LSU management and the head football coach have enacted an adjusted payment schedule so the amount of overpayment will be recouped by the conclusion of fiscal year 2023,” the Legislative Auditor’s report stated.

Kelly, who previously coached at Notre Dame for 12 seasons, was hired by LSU after the 2021 season, when the Tigers went 6-7 for its first losing season since 1999.

LSU exceeded expectations in Kelly’s first season in Baton Rouge, winning the SEC West Division and finishing 10-4 after a 63-7 victory over Purdue in the Citrus Bowl.