ANN ARBOR, Mich. – On Thursday night, Jim Harbaugh fired back at SEC analyst Paul Finebaum for calling him a cheater. Now, it turns out Finebaum's basis for the accusation was wrong.
The noted SEC homer called Michigan's head football coach a cheater for hiring the father of 2019's No. 1 dual-threat quarterback recruit. Michael Johnson was set to join Michigan's staff after resigning as the head coach of The King's Academy in California.
"It may not be illegal by NCAA standards and bylaws as of this moment, but to me, it’s cheating," Finebaum said on ESPN's "Outside the Lines." "It’s blatantly disregarding the spirit of the NCAA rule. We all know why he’s doing it."
Was Johnson's son a factor in Harbaugh trying to bring him to Ann Arbor? Absolutely. Is Johnson qualified to be on the staff regardless of his son's abilities? You'd better believe it. The 10-year NFL coach specialized in quarterbacks while working for the San Diego Chargers, Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers.
Harbaugh responded by blasting Finebaum on Twitter, calling him "Pete" Finebaum and an "unabashed SEC water carrier."
"Pete Finebaum, the unabashed SEC water carrier, really needs to get his facts straight. #AlternativeFacts," Harbaugh tweeted at 9:34 p.m.
Well, Harbaugh turned out to be right. On Friday morning, it was announced that Johnson has agreed to become the new wide receivers coach at Oregon.
Will Finebaum blow up on first-year Oregon head coach Willie Taggart? It's extremely unlikely. Trying to get angry reactions out of the Michigan football fan base is one of Finebaum's favorite tactics to increase the audience for his radio show.
Finebaum first ripped into Michigan in September, calling its fans "pathetic" and "a whiny and sniveling bunch."
A Michigan football fan called in to the radio show and Finebaum went off the deep end. After the caller asked why Finebaum wasn't giving the Wolverines any credit, Finebaum ripped into him, saying that he didn't know what he was talking about.
"Why don't you come back next week and actually know what you're talking about?" Finebaum said. "And maybe you won't be whining and crying, OK? Go, Big Blue."
But it didn't end there. Finebaum had one more thing to "get off his chest."
"Is there a more pathetic fan base in America than the University of Michigan? What a whiny and sniveling bunch," he said.
Since Harbaugh took on the SEC last offseason, Finebaum has been critical of "cartoon character" Harbaugh.
About a month later, Finebaum was at it again, saying Michigan fans are "unrealistic" and "from another planet."
"There's no comparison between Ohio State and Michigan fans. Ohio State fans are very knowledgeable people," Finebaum said.
"Michigan fans are from another planet ... Ohio State fans at least know what they're talking about."
This time, he attacked Michigan fans for thinking that their team's 6-0 start has any meaning.
"Call me back when you win just one (championship)," he said.
Finebaum called Michigan fans "some of the most unrealistic people" with whom he's interacted while covering college football.
"I don't think (Michigan fans) are nearly as knowledgeable as Ohio State fans when it comes to football IQ," Finebaum said. "I've yet to meet a Michigan fan that has a sense of humor about his program, that has an ounce of objectivity in their body."
As long as Harbaugh is the head coach in Ann Arbor and Finebaum is singing the SEC's praises, fans can expect these battles to continue.