After being accused of cheating, Jim Harbaugh goes full-on Trump, attacks Paul Finebaum on Twitter for #AlternativeFacts

jim-harbaugh-0216.jpg
USA TODAY

After being accused of cheating, Jim Harbaugh goes full-on Trump, attacks Paul Finebaum on Twitter for #AlternativeFacts

Alternative facts, man. They're going around.

While Jim Harbaugh is perhaps the most powerful person in Ann Arbor, he suddenly has a lot in common with the most powerful man in the world.

The Michigan head football coach — who by the way attended a Barack Obama speech at the university during the 2016 presidential campaign and visited the White House multiple times under our previous president — unleashed a Donald Trump-esque Twitter attack Thursday night, blasting ESPN commentator Paul Finebaum for talking bad about him on TV.

It's Trump-esque not only because of its vitriol and reference to a media member needing to get his facts straight, but also because it includes an error. He wrongly called Paul Finebaum "Pete Finebaum." Though unlike the president's frequent spelling and grammar faux pas, this one might have been intentional.

Anyway, you might be wondering why Harbaugh felt the need to lash out at Finebaum.

It started with Harbaugh making an addition to his coaching staff, bringing in Michael Johnson to be an assistant with the Wolverines. Johnson most recently worked as the head coach at a California high school, but he's also a former NFL offensive coordinator who worked under Harbaugh with the San Francisco 49ers.

But the part of Johnson's bio that has folks flipping out is that he's also the father of Michael Johnson Jr., one of the highest-rated quarterbacks in the 2019 recruiting class.

That fact is causing many to assume that Harbaugh made the hire solely to get into the family's good graces and best position himself to bring the younger Johnson to Michigan.

Finebaum is among those people, and he voiced his opinion that Harbaugh is flat-out cheating during an appearance on ESPN's "Outside the Lines."

"He is an evil genius. I think he's one of the smartest people I've run into in a long time, and most of what he has done is exactly that: genius," Finebaum said of Harbaugh. "This is wrong. 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 face up to it. There's no other reason why he would hire this man. It's been done in the past. And you pointed out a couple of years ago it was done, but it's still wrong. And 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.

"If this man was such a great coach, then why didn't Jim Harbaugh hire him earlier? Why did he wait till his son was about to become eligible to play at Michigan? And what bothers me — no, no one's ever going to accuse Jim Harbaugh of this, and it's not going to stick. He is that smart. But for someone who likes to go around pointing fingers at everyone else, I think it's time to start pointing fingers at him. This is unethical. It stinks to high heaven, and I don't know why you or the Michigan zealots out there want to keep propping him up."

Here's the full segment from "Outside the Lines," which includes a defense of Harbaugh from writer John U. Bacon.

Finebaum, of course, is a polarizing figure in his own right. He's been a talk-radio host in SEC Country for a long time and joined ESPN within the past few years as a part of the network's expanded SEC coverage.

It seems he struck a nerve with Harbaugh, as the tweet from Thursday night would suggest.

Here's the kicker, though: It turns out the elder Johnson might not even end up coaching at Michigan, perhaps sparking the #AlternativeFacts tweet. The high school where Johnson used to coach tweeted he'd be joining the Wolverines' staff, but a Friday report said Johnson would be joining the Oregon Ducks' coaching staff.

Wisconsin, which seemed to be the Big Ten's best, now loser of two straight after upset defeat at Michigan

ethan-happ-0216.jpg
USA TODAY

Wisconsin, which seemed to be the Big Ten's best, now loser of two straight after upset defeat at Michigan

Heading into last weekend, Wisconsin had lost just once since Thanksgiving.

But Thursday night in Ann Arbor, the Badgers dropped their second straight, making you wonder if maybe the NCAA tournament knew what it was doing by leaving them out of its top 16 seeds.

Michigan scored its biggest win of the season and boosted its own tourney hopes with a 64-58 win over Wisconsin, Moritz Wagner and Zak Irvin combining for 39 points in the victory.

Again, the Badgers struggled offensively, shooting just 39 percent from the field on the night and failing to reach the 30-point mark in the second half. Wisconsin was 9-for-29 from the field in the second half and 3-for-15 from 3-point range on the game.

Ethan Happ, who was shut down in Wisconsin's home loss to Northwestern on Sunday, scored 18 points in the first half but just four after halftime. Bronson Koenig didn't play Thursday night, and Nigel Hayes had a pretty quiet night offensively, scoring just six points.

Wisconsin beat Michigan on second-chance points 10-2 and in points in the paint 36-24. But the cold shooting meant those statistical advantages were nowhere near enough.

The Wolverines shot 46 percent on the night and made nine 3-pointers. Wagner and Irvin alone were a combined 14-for-26 from the field and 5-for-11 from 3. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman chipped in 12 points.

The Badgers led by as many as eight early in the second half, but a 12-4 spurt by the Wolverines tied the game at 42. Shortly thereafter a 9-0 burst turned a modest Wisconsin lead in a seven-point edge for Michigan, and the Wolverines led for the remainder.

The win was a huge one for Michigan and ought to go a long way on getting the Wolverines — now 17-9 overall and 7-6 in the Big Ten — on the right side of the NCAA tournament bubble.

Questions about Wisconsin's less-than-dominant performances in overtime wins against the likes of Minnesota, Rutgers and Nebraska have now turned into full-blown panic for a team that as recently as this past weekend looked like the Big Ten's best chance to contend for a national championship. Two straight losses will strip the Badgers of that distinction, with the conference's best title hopes likely belonging to Purdue or perhaps even Maryland for the time being.

The offensive production has been the biggest problem in recent games for Wisconsin. The absence of Koenig — be it physically or just statistically — and the inconsistent production of Hayes, the Big Ten preseason player of the year, have put an awful lot on Happ's shoulders. And even a 22-point effort Thursday night wasn't enough.

Since the Badgers and Wolverines last tangled on Jan. 17 — a 68-64 win for Wisconsin — the past nine games have been offensively challenging for the red and white. They've averaged 66.4 points a game and have shot a combined 41 percent from the field. That stretch, during which Wisconsin has posted a 7-2 record, has featured just two games with more than 25 made baskets and two games with fewer than 20 made baskets.

The college basketball season has its ebbs and flows, sure. Last season, Wisconsin started conference play 1-4 before rattling off a seven-game win streak, wins in 11 of its final 13 regular-season games and a run to the Sweet Sixteen.

But the difference between the bad times this year and the bad times this year is that these bad times are coming at the worst time, down the stretch.

The selection committee didn't think Wisconsin was one of the 16 best teams in the country last Saturday. Since the Badgers have gone 0-2, so don't expect to committee to think any better of them this weekend.

Complete Bears' 2017 seven round NFL Mock Draft

Complete Bears' 2017 seven round NFL Mock Draft

When NFL free agency kicks off on March 9, we'll finally have concrete answers as to which direction the Bears will go in bolstering key roster positions this offseason. 

As a precursor to free agency and the NFL Combine, we'll try to predict — looking at the current roster without any additions — what the Bears should do with all seven picks they hold in the 2017 NFL Draft. 

With that said, lets's look ahead to the Bears' full seven-round mock draft:

Round 1 (No. 3 overall) - Solomon Thomas (DE/EDGE), Stanford

As I did last week in version 1.0 of the CSN 2017 NFL Mock Draft, I'm sticking with the Bears using the third overall pick on Thomas. Is Thomas an EDGE rusher or is he a defensive end in a 3-4? It won't matter. The Bears will find room on the field for the best defensive player in this draft not named Myles Garrett. Thomas' athleticism is off the charts and he possesses the tools to become an elite player at the next level.

Round 2 (No. 36 overall) - Traded to New England Patriots along with a 2018 second-round pick for QB Jimmy Garoppolo

No decision looms larger for Bears GM Ryan Pace than finding the team's QB of the future this offseason. The Bears have/will continue to exhaust all resources until making that final decision. While the Patriots may want a first-round pick for Garoppolo, ultimately they'll likely settle for two second-round selections which is a modest return on investment for a player they would lose for nothing in free agency next offseason. Garoppolo has the potential to be an above-average starting quarterback, but he's far from proven and won't command the type of return the Eagles received last August when they traded Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings — a desperate team in dire need of a quarterback after losing Teddy Bridgewater to a season-ending injury. After holding the clipboard for future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, Garoppolo would finally get the chance to prove himself to the rest of the league and start for the Bears in Week 1.

Round 3 (No. 67 overall) - Obi Melifonwu (S), Connecticut

The Bears hoped that Adrian Amos and Harold Jones-Quartey would take the next step last season and become a tandem to build around in their defensive backfield, but the exact opposite happened as lackluster years from the two second-year players have the Bears searching for answers at both safety positions. Melifonwu is a player the Bears coaching staff got a firsthand look at when they coached the ascending prospect on the North squad at the Senior Bowl last month. At 6-foot-4, Melifonwu has elite size to match up with tight ends and bigger wideouts. While he currently lacks the coverage skills to play free safety, Melifonwu could wreck havoc as the last line of defense in the secondary.

Round 4 (No. 108 overall) - Taywan Taylor (WR), Western Kentucky

If Alshon Jeffery bolts Chicago on March 9, it's going to leave the Bears with a gaping hole at wide receiver. Cameron Meredith was a pleasant surprise and looks to be a solid No. 2 wide receiver, but other than him the cupboard is barren at the position. The jury is still out on Kevin White who has missed 28 out of 32 games with injuries after he was selected seventh-overall by the Bears in the 2015 NFL Draft. Besides the two aforementioned players, there isn't any wide receiver on the Bears that you could confidently say is a lock to make the 53-man roster in 2017. At some point this offseason, the Bears need to make it a priority to find some speed coming out of the slot. Taylor, who had 98 receptions for 1,730 yards and 17 touchdowns in his senior year at Western Kentucky, is an ideal slot candidate with elite speed and explosiveness to thrive when getting the ball in space. 

Round 4 (No. 114 overall) - Jake Butt (TE), Michigan

When he's on the field, Zach Miller is a highly productive player in the Bears offense. But for the 32-year-old Miller, staying off IR has been a problem throughout his career. The Bears need to find stability at the position and the 2017 NFL draft (extremely deep at tight end) presents an ideal opportunity. Before tearing his right ACL in the Citrus Bowl, Butt looked to be a Day 2 lock, but the injury has dropped his stock to a possible Day 3 pick. While Butt isn't a finished product as blocker, he should see the field early in his career as he's sure handed and knows how to find a seam in the defense as an intermediate target. If Butt still on the board in the fourth round, you'd be hard-pressed to find better value at the tight end position.

[RELATED: Complete 2017 NFL Draft coverage]

Round 5 (No. 148 overall) - Julie'n Davenport (OT), Bucknell

The Bears are set at both guard positions with Kyle Long and Josh Sitton and have their center of the future in Cody Whitehair. However, they could use depth on the offensive line at both tackle positions. After a rough start to the season, Bobby Massie emerged as dependable right tackle and should be the team's Week 1 starter on the right side, but the same can't be said for Charles Leno Jr. who has struggled in his two seasons at left tackle. Davenport, the cousin of NBA player Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, has elite length and physical traits to be a capable tackle in the NFL. Davenport possesses the kind of high upside you look for in a Day 3 prospect.

Round 7 (No. 226 overall) - Ben Boulware (LB), Clemson

Finding an impact player in the seventh-round is never an easy task, but Boulware is somebody who could become a special teams' stalwart in the NFL. A team captain on Clemson, Boulware was the heartbeat of the Tigers' defense over the last two years. While he lacks the size and quickness to become an every down player, Boulware could carve out a niche on special teams — an area in which he flourished in his first two years at Clemson.