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.
Pete Finebaum, the unabashed SEC water carrier, really needs to get his facts straight. #AlternativeFacts— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) February 17, 2017
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.