Mike Lantry, 1972
Go to the basketball game and tune out for a couple hours and you come back to a dozen emails about this:
LSU athletic director Skip Bertman confirmed Wednesday night through spokesman Herb Vincent that his Michigan counterpart, Bill Martin, has officially requested permission to speak with Les Miles about becoming the next coach of the Wolverines.
These things rarely become public unless they're in the bag, so this is a strong indication Miles is a done deal. LSU is promising a counter-offer but unless they can suddenly be the program Bo built, it is unlikely to matter.
A significant number of people have sent in the same story: there is an old guard at Michigan strongly opposed to Miles' candidacy, while younger folk, big money donors, and those not as closely connected to the current regime support it. I get stuff from people on side A skeptical about Miles' chances; I get stuff from people on side B saying it's done. Like, done-done-done and going to be announced Monday. I lean towards the latter, and expect Miles will be the guy in a few days.
The Michigan Rivals site - The Wolverine.com - is reporting that Kirk Ferentz will not be the next head coach at Michigan, citing a source second only to Ferentz himself.
Fanblogs sites a premium message board post, quoting it, which seems ethically dubious, but linking to something ethically dubious is fine(!). Plus, if you read the comments here you know already. Rivals is usually pretty circumspect, so the stridency of that post should be taken as a sign of extreme confidence in the information. (It should be noted that this is the second time The Wolverine has schooled everyone on a major coaching search, as they were way out in front of the Beilein thing. Credit where due.)
Speculation now defaults to...
There is significant buzz that Miles is a done deal as soon as LSU gets done with the SEC championship game from both the premium boards on the paysites and my inbox, but he was supposed to be a done deal a while ago. We'll see; he has support from a lot of important people but obviously not the most important one who's not Bill Martin: Lloyd Carr. The Ferentz thing is a solid indicator of that. (And, yes, there was most definitely a Ferentz thing getting pushed very hard by Carr and others -- this is "Ferentz is no longer a candidate," not "was never.")
There's little out there on the internet yet that can be taken even a little bit seriously; this post from "Pigskin Football Guys" claims Miles has taken the job, but also claims Pelini is gone to be HC at Nebraska and Tenuta will be LSU's new DC at 600k per year, which is crazy if Miles is leaving. That seems to have no credence. Meanwhile, this from "Football Scoop"...
Michigan- Our sources say that Brian Kelly will be named HC if the interview doesn't turn off the Woman President
...gets negative one billion credibility points. Jimmy Carter will have no say in Michigan's coaching search. (ZING!)
*(No, I'm not seriously suggesting this flight had Miles on it: it's a DC-9, which seats like 100 people. The only reasonable explanation: Mark Mangino is going to be the next coach.)
The company that hosts the poll software has pulled the plug on it temporarily, as the increased traffic here was causing excessive loads on the server. I'm trying to work around the problem but a lot of voters were locked out of voting this week and I can't access the existing votes, so no poll today. Hopefully this gets resolved ASAP... if I had to guess I'd say there won't be a poll this week.
Hawkeye Lounge has posted an update from the Iowa side of things:
HL has received some additional information on the Kirk Ferentz situation from sources we consider trustworthy. So, we thought we'd pass it on. The information is as follows:
1. Ferentz had meeting with the team yesterday. No mention of the Michigan job. Rather, just talk about practice this weekend as if they're going to a bowl game.
2. Historically, when KF/job rumors come up, KF will call the assistants out on the road and tell them to have no worries, he's coming back, etc. Typically this happens immediately after the rumor gets press. No such calls have been made; nobody seems to know what's going on.
3. Apparently the scheduled Wednesday press conference (tomorrow) will not be held. The stated reason for the postponement is that they're waiting on the bowl situation to solidify before holding another press conference.
Make of this what you will. We're just passing on info that we receive from sources that we consider to be of high quality.
The canceled press conference seems meaningful to me: if Ferentz is not a serious candidate or had turned the job down that would be an excellent opportunity to say "I AM NOT A SERIOUS CANDIDATE" in big flashing neon letters; if he's still in play, then every non-answer would further fan the flames.
Also FWIW: I received an email from Jim Acho, who is apparently Fred Jackson's agent. Contents:
Michigan assistant head football coach Fred Jackson is officially a candidate for the Duke football coaching job. A call was placed to Duke AD Joe Alleva today and we await confirmation of an interview date. Fred Jackson was on a "short list" of candidates for the Duke job when it opened up 3 years ago and has turned down no less than 6 NFL assistant coaching offers in the last 4 years.
Make of that what you will.
Also, a reader emails a potential theory on the plane flight: it could have been a return trip, and the "flight crew swap" a cover story.
An update on the flight from yesterday: an acquaintance with reason to check these things out was at the airport as the plane landed; no passengers were aboard.
Highlights. They're cut kind of crappily -- can't see the play develop -- but for anyone who missed the Minnesota game:
I love "hey... if you want to watch this game, it's on after this show. So stop watching RIGHT NOW."
Agreed. The band had a pretty bleah year in the first year post-Nix, culminating in a Cirque Du Soleil show against Ohio State that seemed straight out of that episode of Coach in which Hayden T. Nelson battles the dastardly band director who cares about nothing save jazz and tidy formations. The Hoover Street Rag is the bando blog of record and suggests some of the bleah is actually intentional:
From what I've heard from shows this year, as well as comments left on this blog, is that the sound is being explicitly suppressed in the interest of such contrasts and "quiet sections."
A couple years ago my tickets were around the 20 on the non-pressbox side. At that point, the band was on the same side of the field I was, and I couldn't hear them at all, which substantially detracted from the gameday experience. It was awful. Is there anyone in the stadium who objects to actually being able to hear the band? The HSR says turn it up...
There is a simple fix for all of these problems: Play louder. We know it is possible; it's not like all the volume graduated last year. Playing louder would allow more of the students to hear the band, let them stay together on the Victors, and allow everyone to enjoy more of the halftime performances. The MMB did sound more balanced and rounder this year but it was at a significant and noticeable expense of volume. Row 80 does not care about legatos and mezzo pianos. Row 80 only cares about why their faces aren't being peeled off by the first note of M Fanfare.
...and I agree.
Strong is good. Behind the Net has an interesting article on the USHL, the only Tier 1 junior league endorsed by USA hockey and the premiere college feeder league out there. Fully 10% of the NHL used to play in the USHL, and the league is now basically on par with Canadian Junior leagues, which means that kids interested in both college and the NHL now have a viable pre-college option that won't stunt their development.
While on hockey recruiting, three kids signed letters of intent just before Thanksgiving. Two, Robbie Czarnik and David Wohlberg, are forwards set to replace the departing Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik. Czarnik is a high-end prospect who might go in the first couple rounds; Kolarik is more of a mid-round prospect.
The third is where it gets interesting:
Pateryn may not necessarily be playing for the Wolverines next year. Berenson and associate head coach Mel Pearson both said he might need another year in the USHL and may potentially be coming to Michigan for the 2009-10 season.
Michigan currently has seven defenders on the roster and none graduate next year; Michigan also has a commitment from St. Mike's defender Brandon Burlon. (St. Mike's is the Toronto prep school that sent Michigan Andrew Cogliano and Louie Caporusso.) Burlon is getting high praise from the scouting community. Kyle Woodlief:
...it was big Joe Colborne, a strapping pivot from Camrose in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and Brandon Burlon, a strong, mobile blue-liner from the Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League, who grabbed our attention. ...
As for Burlon, he did more to boost his stock than anyone in British Columbia last week, and we suspect he'll join a pair of fellow St. Michael's Buzzers alumni, Andrew Cogliano in 2005 and Brendan Smith in '07, as first round NHL picks when teams convene in Ottawa next June.
Burlon is ultra-smooth and the prototypical two-way defender in the post-lockout NHL landscape. He defends beautifully in his own end, seemingly never making a mistake in either his puck movement decisions, coverage down low or play diagnosis. He's big enough and competitive enough to duel against the big boys in front of the net and mobile and savvy enough to sniff out and breakup plays and lead quick-strike transition attacks, turning defense to offense in a heartbeat.
That does not seem like the kind of guy you leave in junior or fail to sign when you get the opportunity to. Burlon's listed as an '08 by Heisenberg while Pateryn is an '09. So what's the deal with Pateryn signing but not Burlon?
Burlon appears to be keeping his options open if a spot does not materialize on the Michigan blueline. By not signing a letter of intent, Burlon can go to another school should he need to. If Michigan loses a defender, he'll come in. Next Q: will Michigan lose a defender?
Probably. No Michigan first round draft pick save Eric Nystrom has stayed for four years. The new CBA gives teams a powerful incentive to sign college prospects by the summer after their junior year. Mark Mitera was the 17th pick his draft year and has really come into his own as Michigan's #1 defender. He's probably gone, and Burlon will show up in '08. Pateryn is likely to stay in the USHL another year and join the '09 class unless Michigan loses a second defender. The chances of that are low despite Chris Summers' status as a first round pick himself. He's a smart kid...
"It was tough at first," he said, "but my parents and a lot of my teachers were always real supportive. Everyone helped out. We had mandatory study time on our road trips. My parents always said my grades had to come first, and to have their support meant everything."
In the end, the time away had little, if any impact on his grades and Summers finished on the Milan honor roll all four years.
...and spent last year bouncing from defense to forward and back. The Coyotes will likely let him develop another year.
Update: Chris Dilks of WCH clarifies the Burlon situation:
Actually, Burlon wasn't able to sign a letter of intent because in order to do so, the school has to be able to show where his scholarship money is coming from, and a school can't say, "wel
l this guy is going to leave early for the pros, so our recruit will take his scholarship money". The money either has to already be available, or be in use by a player that won't have eligibility next year. Pateryn signed because he's an in-state kid that is going to be using very little scholarship money. Burlon is closer to a full scholarship so he'll have to wait for Mitera to leave before he can sign
In any case, I wouldn't worry about him not coming to Michigan.
I did not know that.