"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
On the same day Bobby Petrino takes the Arkansas job, Jim Grobe becomes the hot name in the Michigan coaching search.
Weeks ago, Petrino's name kept popping up among college athletic directors looking for new coaches. I wrote that Petrino sniffed around the Michigan job to no avail. GM Rich McKay and Petrino both denied that he was actually pursuing open positions on the college level.
Why not Petrino? Inveterate job-hopper, guy you'd have to worry about from time to time if he's a success, which his track record at Louisville suggests he would be. Why not? Because you might have to endure the indignity of watching your coach entertain other job offers? Isn't this Michigan? Isn't this a place that should be good enough that other job offers don't matter?
And if it isn't, whose fault is that?
A blogging associate of mine found himself talking with a prominent assistant coach in the state of Florida who could not believe Greg Schiano turned the job down. "Insane" was the term used in our discussion. And, right: insane. This is the head coach of Rutgers, and even if he gets lucky and Joe Paterno retires before 2027 everything has to fall right for him if he's going to get the job. Bradley has to be passed over. He has to remain attractive enough to be the first choice. And Penn State's athletic department has to overlook strong internal candidates like JayPa.
For Schiano to turn the job down there has to be something wrong with someone. Maybe it's Schiano, but the preponderance of the evidence says otherwise.
Petrino asked about the Michigan job and could not get an interview. Brian Kelly is running around saying he can't guarantee he'll be back at Cincinnati next year but will not be considered for the job. Les Miles... well, we all know the fiasco that turned into.
I would like to believe in the magic of smokescreens, but when a phone call with Les Miles, Mary Sue Coleman, and Bill Martin that should remain secret hits WTKA, then here, then the Free Press the problem with the search is not its obscurity but its transparency. And it's transparent that Michigan is flailing, divided amongst itself, and rapidly running out of plausible options.
Brady Hoke is not a plausible option. Neither are Mike Debord, Ron English, or current future rejecter du jour Jim Grobe. But who else is there? Michigan is determined to eliminate anyone who's "off" in any way. Grobe is not off. This is Jim Grobe:
This is about perpetuating a culture. It is not about finding a good football coach. Anyone outside of that culture faces the daunting task of conforming to it instead of changing it, and that has driven off coaches even if it's "insane" not to take the job. Something is rotten in the state of Schembechler, and it will not yield the throne.
And what about Grobe, the coach? Old. No record of how well he recruits. Runs a crazy offensive system that may or may not translate to higher levels with (possibly) better talent. A huge, huge risk to anyone who has performance foremost on their mind. Obviously, this is not the case here.
Les Miles: Uh... hello?
Mary Sue Coleman: Hi, Les. It's Mary Sue Coleman. Let me patch in Bill Martin.
Bill Martin: (faintly) Hello? Hello?
BM: (faintly) Hello?
MSC: Turn the phone around, Bill.
MSC: YOU'RE SPEAKING INTO THE WRONG END OF THE PHONE.
BM: (louder) Oh.
MSC: Les, as you know, the University of Michigan is looking for a head coach. We would like any prospective candidates to have a strong understanding of the program's history, an established track record of success--
BM: -- and sailing experience --
MSC: -- as a college football head coach, and --
BM: -- any other sort of boating-type experience. Motor. Catamaran. You know. Water-type things.
MSC: and a strong rapport with his charges. Anyway, Les, you've just won the SEC, have a 36-6 record in three years at LSU, and are well loved by your program. You also lettered twice under Bo and love this program more than any other. So...
BM: ... do you know anyone that fits our criteria?
Miles: Uh... me?
BM: I didn't see any jib or mizzenmast experience on your resume.
Miles: Right. That's because I'm a football coach. I coach football.
BM: In fact, your resume made no reference to sailing whatsoever. So you're out, asshole.
MSC: I think what Bill is trying to say is that we would like to offer you--
BM: --the opportunity to tell us who might be our perfect candidate. Reminder: Michigan ties, success, sailing.
Miles: No, sorry. I don't know anyone who fits that criteria.
BM: Well screw you, buddy!
MSC: Bill... next time let me do the talking.
BM: Lloyd says Brady Hoke dresses up like Long John Silver on most Tuesdays. Let's hire him.
Press release from the LSU official site:
BATON ROUGE -- LSU football coach Les Miles issued the following statement on Tuesday regarding the conversation he had with Michigan last week:
"I had a conversation with Michigan last week that covered a wide range of topics. I was doing nothing more than helping them with their search for a football coach, just as any loyal alumnus might do. It was nothing more than that.
"I'm not a candidate for that job and I will not be a candidate for the job. I was only assisting them in their search for a coach. I have a great job at a wonderful place, a place that my family calls home. It's time that Michigan goes on with their search for a football coach. I'll say it again, I'm going to be the coach at LSU next season."
I don't believe that explanation for a hot second and there's always the chance of a post-bowl 180, but the flame dims once again.
Amongst the fanciful NFL names being bandied about is Bengals coach Marvin Lewis. Terry Foster:
The Michigan Wolverines want Les Miles as their coach. But do not be surprised if Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis becomes a prime candidate if he is fired at the end of the season.
The Wolverines are obviously in no rush to fill this position and Lewis could be a nice fall back. Lewis turned down coaching opportunities at California and Michigan State because he wanted a shot at being a head coach in the NFL. Now he is in trouble and he is one of those guys who wants a fall back. Do not be surprised if he resigns before the Bengals fire him and he is in line for the Michigan job in the blink of an eye.
Okay, whatever, Terry Foster is as reliable as a ham sandwich and half as tasty. This means nothing. But it did spur this out of Lewis:
Lewis refuted reports that he is a candidate for the vacant head football coaching position at the University of Michigan. ...
"Marvin Lewis doesn't know any of these reports," Lewis said. "I appreciate the fact that you guys haven't brought those up, until now. Let's beat the San Francisco 49ers."
Marvin Lewis doesn't have to take this crap! Marvin Lewis was in 'Nam! Marvin Lewis doesn't talk about jobs, he loves napalm! Marvin Lewis!
Okay, I'm a little obsessed with coaches talking in the third person.
The Free Press confirms a part of what was here yesterday:
Louisiana State coach Les Miles appears to be a Michigan coaching candidate again.
Miles had a phone conversation Friday morning with Michigan athletic director Bill Martin and school president Mary Sue Coleman, according to several people with knowledge of the call.
(Hey, look... anonymous sourcing.) This was inevitable given how widespread the information was, but the heat will be on Miles once again after his pre-SECCG performance. Read what you will into this: Michigan had no comment, Miles' agent had no comment, LSU's AD...
"He and Bo Schembechler were real close," Bertman said. "If Bo Schembechler were alive, I doubt he could have got him to go to Michigan. It's hard for people who don't live in the South to understand."
In another article:
"They're frustrated because they didn't get what they want," Bertman said. "You can't get Les Miles -- the guy signed his contract. It's over."
Said contract, of course, doesn't increase Miles' buyout one cent.
Bertman's turning into sort of an ass about these things. On Michigan's ability to contact Miles:
University of Michigan athletic director Bill Martin received permission once from his Louisiana State counterpart Skip Bertman to talk to LSU coach Les Miles and didn't use it.
If Martin has any interest in talking to Miles now, the athletic director will have to ask again.
"I'd be under the assumption that the permission to speak to Les Miles has expired," Bertman said Monday. "We've signed the contract."
Of course, three years ago when it was LSU looking for a coach, things were different:
Oklahoma State Head Coach Les Miles has met with an LSU representative, despite Oklahoma State denying LSU permission to interview Miles. Since Miles contract does not require the university's OK for him to interview, LSU is proceeding with Miles consent. Miles has a one year buyout clause in his contract, or approximately $1-1.5 million. The fact that Miles is (apparently) moving forward with LSU despite OSU denying permission signals that he is very interested in hearing what the Tigers have to say.
They're like Klingons or Commies: all they understand is strength. To negotiate is weakness. Take everything from them, and take it whenever. No quarter.
I mean, seriously: what's sure to be an irritating round of media people declaring they're shocked, shocked that Miles would even think about possibly considering the Michigan job has already begun. Sports radio was ripping him this morning. The correct response to this: who cares? There are no ethics in these situations, as southern schools amply demonstrate every time someone gets fired, LSU foremost among them. If the Tigers are looking for a new coach, all these delicate ethics will get thrown out the window. New coach requires virgin sacrifices? Someone call up the evangelicals!
Grist. So... will Miles take it and how serious is the offer? I don't know. Many people complained about the "lowball" 2.5 million figure, but other reports have the figure closer to three million when incentives are factored in. Given that Coleman was involved in Ferentz's acquisition and extremely large you-stay-here-now contract, I think her involvement is a major positive and believe Michigan will/has offered an extremely competitive salary.
Again, it's hard to parse what's real and what's not: I've heard Miles has turned the offer down and it's really truly over; I've heard he's probably going to take it if he can work out the MNC game stuff. Who knows? And why did West Virginia have to eat it against the 'Stache? Damn you, Pat White's dislocated thummmmmmmb!
One thing worth repeating: for whatever reason, Brian Kelly is never going to get even a cursory look.
|Head Coach, Ball State|
|DL coach @ Michigan||1995-2002|
|DL coach @ Oregon State||1989-1994|
|LB Coach @ Toledo||1987-1988|
|DL Coach @ WMU||1984-1986|
|Four-year letterman and captain at Ball State as a defensive lineman.|
For those of you who are not Jason Whitlock and thus know nothing about the Ball State football program, like all red-blooded Americans should, Brady Hoke is its head coach. In five years on the job, Hoke is 22-36 and has one winning season, this year's 7-5 campaign that will end when Rutgers houses the Cardinals in the International Bowl. Hoke's main accomplishments to date are
- being the first coach to torch Johnny Sears and one of dozens to hang close with Michigan despite a massive talent deficit,
- nearly beating the worst Nebraska team ever, and
- being good friends with Lloyd Carr.
There isn't a power program in the country that could make Brady Hoke's candidacy for their head coaching job seem like anything other than a PR move designed to help a friend of the program... but remember the boats. The goddamn boats. Anything is possible.
Ball State's Stassen numbers for the decade preceding Hoke's arrival:
|68||San Diego State||0.45690|
Hoke's winning percentage? 38%. And he did not take over a program in disarray. Ball State had disastrous years in 1998 and 1999, going a combined 1-21, but recovered from the tailspin to go 16-18 the three years before Hoke arrived.
Hoke promptly put up records of 4-8, 2-9, 4-7, and 5-7 before his "breakthrough" 2007, when he finally got the program back to the level it was at when he arrived. Historically, Ball State has been one of the better programs in the MAC, their overall record above distorted by those two bombs; other than that the last time they won fewer than five games was 1987. The evidence suggests Hoke is outclassed in the MAC.
So let's make him Michigan's head coach!
Xs and Os Proficiency: Hoke has never been a coordinator on any level.
Recruiting: A N/A. It's Ball State.
Potential Catches: Potential "catches"? The whole damn thing is one big catch! Even in the realm of people who Michigan would approach after getting turned down by everyone -- EVERYONE -- there are vastly preferable candidates: Ron English. Mike Trgovic. Glen Mason. Jon Chait. Me. The Golden Retriever from "Air Bud: Golden Receiver." Mussolini, who is dead. Dick Vitale. Sigourney Weaver. Richard Nixon's penis. Sigourney Weaver's penis. All of these people and organs don't have a track record that suggests they are a below average MAC coach. It is in this way they are superior to Brady Hoke.
Relative Compensation: Hoke makes 170k per year, the third lowest in D-I. We'll probably offer him $120k.
Would He Take The Job? Yes.
Overall Attractiveness: Awful. Awful, awful, awful. The worst possible candidate. The mere idea this guy -- who's never even been a coordinator anywhere and has his MAC team performing at a level well below the program's historical baseline -- could get the job is infuriating. Only at Michigan could this happen, and if it does I guarantee you that Bo is going to haunt the mofo that signs the contract.
Better that Debord? No. Absolutely not better than Debord. The functional equivalent of Debord and a guy who would either keep Captain Failure or bring in Stan Parrish. If Hoke is hired there will be a riot, and with good reason.