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New York Times flip-flops on Harbaugh

Earlier today, the New York Times’ Pete Thamel reported that Jim Harbaugh would meet with Notre Dame sometime this week to discuss the head coaching position.

Notre Dame’s athletic director, Jack Swarbrick, is scheduled to meet or has met with Cincinnati Coach Brian Kelly and Stanford Coach Jim Harbaugh, a person briefed on the search said. The meetings are taking place in New York City, where many coaches and administrators are visiting for end-of-season gatherings.

While Kelly was regarded as the leading candidate, Harbaugh’s name is a little more surprising. When reached on his cellphone Monday afternoon, Harbaugh did not deny the meeting.

“Not now or not in the future will I talk about any other jobs or opportunities,” he said. “I’m out recruiting right now.”

Fast forward a few hours, and now Thamel is refuting his own report:

While Kelly confirmed his interview, another name can be crossed off Notre Dame’s list. Stanford’s athletic director, Bob Bowlsby, strongly denied a report in The New York Times’s Web site that Coach Jim Harbaugh would be interviewing as well.

Bowlsby said that he was “100 percent confident” that Harbaugh was not a candidate because he knows the situation from “both sides.” He added that Swarbrick, a close friend, had called Bowlsby three times for advice. Bowlsby also said that he had spoken with Harbaugh’s agent, Jack Bechta, late Monday afternoon to confirm that nothing was going on. Bechta did not return a telephone call on Monday.

When asked if there was any chance that Harbaugh would be the next coach at Notre Dame, Bowlsby said, “Absolutely no chance.”

Thamel clearly updated his earlier report, adding the update on Kelly’s Twitter account and the quotes from Bowlsby. Yet the Times kept the same URL address for the story, updating only the text and headline to pull Harbaugh’s name from the report, but not the title page associated with the URL.

Add the New York Times to the list of reputable news sources that practiced a little “ready, fire, aim!” journalism. Just another red herring in the hunt to break the story on Charlie Weis’ replacement.