Pat Forde

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Pat Forde is Yahoo! Sports’ national college columnist. He is an award-winning writer, author and commentator with 25 years experience in newspapers and online.

  • Jim Harbaugh's Michigan return is continuous stroll down memory lane

    CHICAGO – Lollapalooza started Friday afternoon here, but the city got warmed up for it in the morning with Harbaughpalooza.

    Jim Harbaugh holds up a Mike Ditka jersey during his media day session in Chicago. (AP)Jim Harbaugh holds up a Mike Ditka jersey during his media day session in Chicago. (AP)Jim Harbaugh's arrival at Michigan is a jolt of juice the Big Ten Conference needed, and that energy was palpable at the league's media days. There were no empty seats in the cavernous McCormick Place ballroom when the new coach of the Wolverines took the podium. And the swarm followed him out of the room and around this sprawling convention space as he made the media rounds.

    "It's a head-turning hire," Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said. "I think it was important for them to make a great hire. I think Jim is a great hire."

    But as significant as the Harbaugh hire is on a grand scale – for Michigan, the conference, college football as a whole – it is every bit as significant on a personal scale. This bold step into the future for large institutions is a warm return to a happy past for the Harbaugh family.

    Just the other day, Jim and his wife, Sarah, took their

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  • Why Ohio State's suspensions aren't a trouble sign for the defending champs

     CHICAGO – Ohio State’s repeat national championship bid is off the rails.

    The Buckeyes have lost focus. They’ve gotten fat and happy. They’re still celebrating last year instead of honing in on this year.

    If you want to be an alarmist (or a hopeful fan of an Ohio State rival), you can take that stance after the jarring news at Big Ten media days Thursday that four Buckeyes will miss the season opener at Virginia Tech on Sept. 7. The players’ offense is the old reliable, “violation of athletic department policy.” The suspended list includes potentially the No. 1 defensive player in the nation, end Joey Bosa, and a pair of playmaking hybrid backs/receivers/return men in Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson.

    Personally, I don’t believe Ohio State’s title defense is up in smoke. I don’t believe this is symptom of a complacency cancer eating at the program. I don’t believe you can interpret this as a sign of a great comeuppance in Columbus.

    That would be an overreaction, and it would ignore

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  • Sources: SMU's Larry Brown facing 'lack of coach control' charge from NCAA

    Southern Methodist University went before the NCAA Committee on Infractions last month for a hearing related to serious allegations against the men's basketball and golf programs, multiple sources told Yahoo Sports.

    SMU men's basketball coach Larry Brown is facing a "lack of coach control" charge, sources said. The SMU men's basketball program is also facing an academic misconduct charge related to coursework by former guard Keith Frazier.SMU lost in the first round of the 2015 NCAA tournament to UCLA. (AP)SMU lost in the first round of the 2015 NCAA tournament to UCLA. (AP)

    This is the third time the Hall of Famer has had his program face major NCAA charges. After previous infractions at UCLA and Kansas, both of those programs were hit with major sanctions.

    Sources told Yahoo Sports that SMU had a multi-day hearing with the NCAA Committee on Infractions in late June. The first day focused on the golf allegations. The second day focused on men's basketball.

    At particular issue is the role of former SMU assistant coach Ulric Maligi and a basketball secretary in allegedly assisting Frazier with coursework. Maligi took an

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  • Why it's vital for the SEC to tackle talk of race, Confederate flag head-on

    HOOVER, Ala. – If you want to see Southeastern Conference football coaches squirm like they’re down three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, ask them about the Confederate flag.

    Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen issued 124 words in response to a question about the flag, which flies at the capitol of the state where he coaches – the presence of which prevents the state from hosting any NCAA or SEC championship events. Mullen’s answer was an exercise in evasion.

    “I don’t see it very often,” Mullen said. “We don’t have it on our campus. I do know we’re the most diverse campus in the Southeastern Conference. I know the university embraces that diversity as a whole. I certainly embrace that diversity. We’re so diverse, they have a Yankee as the head football coach in the Southeastern Conference [Mullen hails from New England].

    Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen speaks at the SEC college football media days in Hoover, Ala. (AP)Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen speaks at the SEC college football media days in Hoover, Ala. (AP)“I think it’s something that on a national level is getting an awful lot of attention right now, that people are really looking into how we can make things better in

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  • Nick Saban needs to stop making excuses and solve Alabama's real problems

    HOOVER, Ala. – Poor Nick Saban. The sport of football keeps conspiring against him.

    You remember when the Alabama coach was dismayed by the accelerating pace of play brought on by no-huddle offenses? His objections were all about player safety, of course, and had nothing to do with Southeastern Conference Western Division opponents like Auburn and Texas A&M bringing an uncomfortable tempo into Saban's backyard.Alabama coach Nick Saban speaks during the SEC media days. (AP)Alabama coach Nick Saban speaks during the SEC media days. (AP)

    Now, it's that meddlesome National Football League and its problematic draft schedule. A coach who sells the NFL to recruits like nobody else seems to think the league's disclosure of draft information to his players hurt Alabama's focus and preparation for the College Football Playoff semifinal last season.

    Players requesting draft feedback from the NFL have to declare by Dec. 15. Saban said here Tuesday that the feedback was received around Christmas. The playoff game against Ohio State was played Jan. 1, with the Crimson Tide losing in a sizable upset.

    "Our team chemistry

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  • Why Steve Spurrier couldn't retire, and why college football is better for it

    HOOVER, Ala. – Steve Spurrier tacitly acknowledged Tuesday that he nearly hung it up at South Carolina after a disappointing 7-6 season in 2014.Steve Spurrier looks on during the SEC media days on Tuesday. (AP)Steve Spurrier looks on during the SEC media days on Tuesday. (AP)

    Thankfully for America and for sportswriter kind, the Head Ball Coach reconsidered and returned.

    To paraphrase Col. Nathan Jessup, we want Steve Spurrier at that podium. We need Steve Spurrier at that podium.

    In a sport of increasing coaching blandness, the 70-year-old Spurrier continues to speak his mind freely, cheekily and hilariously. He’s the second-oldest coach in FBS, behind only Kansas State’s Bill Snyder (75), so he could hang it up at any time. But we will have him to entertain us for at least one more season.

    “I breezed right through age 60, breezed right through 65, and I’m going to try my best to breeze right on through 70,” Spurrier said. “We’ve got two people running for president – I think Hillary [Clinton] and Donald Trump are both 69. Coach K [Mike Krzyzewski] at Duke, he’s still doing pretty good at, I think, 69 also

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  • Five things the stumbling SEC can do to regain its college football stranglehold

    HOOVER, Ala. – It is a clear sign of the Southeastern Conference’s sense of self-importance that its football media days last twice as long as any other league’s.

    They go four days here in the SEC, as opposed to two at ordinary little leagues like the Big Ten and Atlantic Coast Conference – leagues which, it should be pointed out, have won the last two national championships after a seven-year run of SEC hegemony. To kick off this understated little production – complete this year with massive hype/coverage on the SEC Network – new commissioner Greg Sankey stated a three-word credo that will be his focus: Scholars, Champions and Leaders. Here was his modest “vision statement” for each:Commissioner Greg Sankey speaks during the SEC college football media days. (AP)Commissioner Greg Sankey speaks during the SEC college football media days. (AP)

    “For the word scholars, we want to graduate every student-athlete,” Sankey said. “For champions, we want to win every championship – but you may have assumed that already. And for leaders, we seek literally to influence the world.”

    Oh, is that all?

    “Many of you may react by saying that’s simply not

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  • 40 schedule observations for this college football season

    It’s the middle of summer, and man cannot live by “Shark Week” alone. So it’s time for a college football intervention. Forty observations on the 2015 schedule that you can use to amaze and entertain your friends:

    1. Toughest September: BYU. The Cougars open at Nebraska, home against Boise State, at UCLA, at Michigan. Just for kicks, BYU follows that Michigan game with a short-turnaround Friday contest against Connecticut on Oct. 2. Being an independent is fun, isn’t it, Bronco Mendenhall?

    2. Toughest October: Miami. The Hurricanes are at Cincinnati on a Thursday, then at Florida State, home against Virginia Tech and Clemson, and at Duke on Halloween. Combined 2014 record of those opponents: 49-18.

    3. Toughest November: Baylor. The Bears are at Kansas State on a Thursday night, home against Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State and at TCU on the day after Thanksgiving with the Big 12 (undisputed!) title perhaps on the line in that one.As per usual, Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide face a difficult slate this season. (AP)As per usual, Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide face a difficult slate this season. (AP)

    4. Toughest schedule, period: Alabama has at least two

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  • Bo Ryan's departure will mean the end of an old-school era

    Bo Ryan is 357-125 in 14 seasons at Wisconsin. (AP)Bo Ryan is 357-125 in 14 seasons at Wisconsin. (AP)Wisconsin announced Monday that Bo Ryan will retire in 2016, and that will pretty much mark the end of an era in college basketball.

    Ryan may well be the last guy to win big – really big – by building teams like it's still the 1970s.

    Very little happens in a hurry in Ryan's program, which runs counter to our hurry-up society.

    He will have seven players who redshirted on his final Badgers team. He had six of them on the team that lost to Duke in April's national championship game, including starter Josh Gasser and key sub Duje Dukan. Hardly anyone redshirts basketball players anymore, and almost never in bulk.

    In a time when John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski, Bill Self, Sean Miller and others go after national titles with one-and-done recruits, Ryan made consecutive Final Fours with rosters built on patience and long-term growth. Doing it in his late 60s, at the end of a lifetime of coaching, validates a philosophy many believed to be outdated.

    "We don't do rent-a-player," Ryan said after

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  • John Calipari accomplishes his prized goal: watching Kentucky players get drafted

    The Kentucky basketball postseason media guide cover last March featured the following motto:

    "All for one goal."

    What the media guide didn't tell us was that the goal wasn't some silly national title. It wasn't a 40-0 season and a spot in college basketball history. It wasn't hanging the school's ninth championship banner from the rafters of Rupp Arena.

    No, the goal was Thursday night. NBA draft night.

    We know this because Kentucky coach John Calipari said so last month. Cal told a group he spoke to in Rupp: "Last year we started the season with a goal. You may think it was to win a national title or win all the games, [but] it was to get eight players drafted."

    ESPN's Heather Cox called him on that in the green room on Thursday night, mentioning that Calipari has said the NBA draft is "more important" than winning a national title.

    Cal's response (one of his five appearances on camera on the night): "I never said that."

    John Calipari poses with the four Kentucky players taken in the first round. (Getty Images)John Calipari poses with the four Kentucky players taken in the first round. (Getty Images)Well, not in those exact words. But if there is a difference

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