a terrible blight on our fine country
META first: Happy to announce that Ace's thing was diagnosed and he's gonna be fine.
Out of the Blue. It was refreshing, wasn't it, when Hackett killed off the Michigan Man Bler.
Bo retired with a cult of personality because he was great at coaching football, and great at improving the lives of people around him. Trusting him and his guys served Michigan well enough so long as he and those guys and their guys continued to do things well and righteously.
|Camus on why Candyland is the greatest game ever. [Existential Comics]|
Hoke was righteous; he didn't do well. Outside Michigan circles there was general bewilderment that Brady could come to this year's football bust, sit beside the men who fired him for fielding progressively worse football teams, and receive a standing ovation. Winning football games can you earn you a lot of respect, but it's not the only way to get it.
I too want to move on from the Cult of Bo, and I too concede that most football coaches out there are good guys. I don't see any problem with recognizing these things and also recognizing that Brady Hoke stood out among his coaching peers. You see it in his players. We'll see it again in the coming years when there are more transfers and more off-field things to wag fingers at, because Brady is an extraordinary human who genuinely cares about people beyond the normal good guy capacity. That quality isn't what got him fired; it's what got him a shot at his dream job in the first place.
We needed to get out of this Blue Bler and relearn how to make decisions with something other than faith in a dead man—sadly it took the people in charge two transitions to realize it. There's no way to eradicate the bler people; fortunately there is a home run-seeming candidate who grew up around the program and quarterbacked it for a time.
Ultimately the question on Harbaugh is 100% "Will he?" Communist Football made the case for the thing we want to believe. If it happens yay for Michigan and the world and the ozone layer. If not, we're…
Into the Black. If we're not looking for the next Bo Schembechler to run Bo Schembechler's program, what are we looking for?
Nobody's telling us. In his Highlander movie-themed discussion of Michigan's pursuit of Harbaugh, I think Gameboy absolutely nailed the coaching search process, which goes:
- Big list of candidates
- Whittling of candidates into a pool
- Precision ranking and clarity among top tier
- Pick the guy
Because fans don't get to be part of the process, the bits that leak out make no sense. We are the mortals who keep finding bodies beheaded by swords all over town, plus a few bread crumbs left by those who seek to use us for their own ends, and start drawing conclusions.
Rock and Roll is Here to Stay: In looking for a new paradigm a lot of us have settled on Urban Meyer's regime and coaching tree. Copying a successful rival is as good a strategy as any; in fact it's exactly how Canham chose Bo in 1969.
In that vein, Kyle Whittingham is the next Urban Meyer-like candidate to get the alum96 treatment. Among Urban-like names being tossed around, Whittingham is probably the most palatable to the residual bler in Michigan's brass—Mullen carries the stench of the SEC and we have no idea whether they see the things in Herman that we do. Like Harbaugh, his candidacy is more of a "Will he?" than a "Can he?"
[After the jump, there's more to the picture than meets the eye.]
Aaaand since I made this Denard's foot injury became season-ending. Thanks 2014.
Larry from our fantasy partner Draft Kings hit me up this week asking if we wanted to do an NCAA hoops game. I said I have not heard of this sport and recommended he try this fantastic whiskey. Then he said "Good," because they have an intriguing NFL game that only costs a quarter.
/glances at NFL for things that can harm me.
/comes out from under bed
The deal is you put a quarter in the machine and play the game, the ultimate victor of which gets $2,000. Finishing among the next 23,664 gets you something until $25,000 has been given out.
Quarter Arcade Championship Details:
- $25,000 prize pool.
- First place wins $2,000
- $0.25 entry fee
- That's a quarter. 25 cents.
- Top 23,665 are paid.
- Starts on Sunday, December 14 at 1:00 PM
- It's the NFL. Jim Harbaugh and Denard Robinson and Funchess when he has something to care about again are all in the NFL too.
- Salary Cap Style Drafting. $50,000 to select 9 spots. 8 players and 1 defense.
- Roster Format: 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex and 1 Defense
- First time depositors at DraftKings receive a 100% bonus up to $600
- If you lose it only cost you a quarter, not your dignity or your soul.
If you win among MGoUsers, you get one free Jim Harbaugh to coach the college football team of your choice (pending agreement and terms with Jim Harbaugh).
INSIDER BITS TODAY: MEH. Holding pattern time. I don't have anything specific to tell you that isn't out there already, just continued opinion that Harbaugh is very much in play and Michigan is still focused on him, with everyone else Plan B. I think we might see some movement over the weekend or early next week, especially if the 49ers are officially eliminated from the playoffs (a 49ers loss and Lions win will make it 100%).
Expect Michigan to start reaching out to potential replacements in earnest soon; that won't mean that Harbaugh's definitively out, it'll mean that he hasn't definitely said yes. Harbaugh won't have a truly clear picture of his options until the NFL season is over. He does not know what he wants to do now.
If Michigan doesn't get deeply involved with a short list over the next couple weeks that's a good sign.
WE THOUGHT THIS WAS ASHLEY MADISON DOT COM, NOT MADISON, WISCONSIN. SEEYA.
BARRY ALVAREZ MUST SMELL LIKE ROTEL THAT'S BEEN IN THE FRIDGE SINCE THE BIG TEN WAS RELEVANT. Oregon State's shock hire of Gary Andersen after just two years—two quite successful years—at Wisconsin moves a coaching opening much closer to Michigan in both geography and prestige. Well… probably, as far as the latter goes. Wisconsin's now had coaches bug out for the post-Petrino wasteland at Arkansas and the 10th best job in the Pac-12*. I can't see that happening at Michigan.
I don't buy most of the explanations out there for Andersen's departure. Wisconsin doesn't pay its assistants like a program with their success level would be expected to, but Oregon State doesn't either. Family reasons cited by Alvarez are transparent bunk. Everyone's talking about academic issues, which I guess could be jarring as you move from Utah State, but Wisconsin's done just fine with whatever standards they've had forever. It kind of looks like Alvarez is a Brandon-esque figure hovering over his coaches. In his defense, he was a really successful football coach instead of a guy who sold cardboard disks purporting to be pizza.
Will Wisconsin's search impact Michigan? It's doubtful but not outlandishly so. After getting burned by consecutive outsiders, Wisconsin may prefer a Wisconsin Man and go for Pitt HC Paul Chryst, NC State HC Dave Doeren or Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell. If they eschew those options they might promote DC Dave Aranda, who had very shiny stats before OSU bombed them, or go with a mid-level HC not currently on Michigan's radar. It's probable that Wisconsin finds a guy without pinging anyone Michigan would ask after.
Any impact would come if both teams end up hunting coordinators, and even then it seems like the teams would split the two obvious Big Ten candidates and be happy with it. Pat Narduzzi makes more sense than Tom Herman for the Badgers: Wisconsin knows what it is on offense and wouldn't want to change it. Herman makes more sense for M because they need offensive repairs desperately.
BUT SERIOUSLY. Wisconsin should hire Bo Pelini.
NO SERIOUSLY. I'm serious. This is not just for the epic trolling it would set up.
*[Colorado and WSU are worse. Probably.]
ONE OTHER POSSIBLE EFFECT. Herman and Aranda were in fact teammates at Cal Lutheran back in the day. If M does end up going for Herman and Aranda is cut loose at Wisconsin that would be an obvious option for DC.
never not funny
HARBAUGH HARBAUGH HARBAUGH. Tim Kawakami had an interesting piece on parallels between the Harbaugh-49ers rift and that between Mark Jackson and the Golden State Warriors, a post that also roped in Chris Mullin. This bit is the most directly applicable to you:
Harbaugh will not talk about the strife. Not publicly or–I believe–privately.
He tried to deny that there were any true tensions this off-season, because that’s his usual tactic, but as the stories have piled up starting from the early weeks of the regular season, Harbaugh has just generally refused to comment on the meaning of all this–and he won’t deny the possibility that management is doing it, either.
He’s not doing this as a zen practice, Harbaugh is doing this because he’s hunkered down, fighting through every day, and if management wants to conduct a campaign against him, that’s only going to sharpen his wits for the next move (while staying silent about what it might be).
Another similarity: Mullin naturally took the quiet high road because he knew he’d succeed elsewhere. I guarantee you that’s what Harbaugh feels now. …
This is all–I firmly believe–coming from 49ers management.
We know Harbaugh is talking a bit privately, but even then he plays his cards very close to the vest. He gave Charles Woodson a press conference answer when they talked…
"I spoke to him briefly, just said 'what's up,' and I almost started to get into the conversation but he kind of game me the same line he gave everybody at his press conference," Woodson said Tuesday on The Rich Eisen Show. "The well-being of his team and the well-being of his family. That was about as far into it as we were going to get."
…(since that press conference answer made the press, that was a good move). Meanwhile he's refusing to mention anything other than the next game, and he was relatively circumspect with the former M players he watched the OSU game with. I've gotten reports that he is cagey with everyone, with small cracks that may let people in on his intentions. A few people who've known him forever get Harbaugh's unvarnished thoughts—and even they don't know what he'll do.
This would explain a great deal of the disconnect between NFL reporters and the Michigan guys. Everything the NFL guys get is coming from management types who have a vested interest in Harbaugh staying in the NFL, either because they want him or want to trade him. Guys who talk to him personally get a different take.
BUT NOT CHARLES. Woodson continued:
"The way it sounds to me there's not even that one in a million," he added. "It doesn't sound too good to me.
"I guess you do have a slight chance. But man. It ain't looking good."
This is still not the opinion of people who have spent a lot of time canvassing all available information. Yikes all the same.
ON ASSISTANT SALARIES. USA Today published a database of assistant salaries, which promises to be more useful than the head coach listings. Head coaches have erratic, large bonuses that cause big swings. Those kinds of things are much rarer with assistants.
Michigan was 9th in overall assistant compensation with a relatively unbalanced structure: both coordinators were 800k+, recruiting coordinator Jeff Hecklinski was just under 300k, and everyone else around 240k. LSU was #1 in overall compensation with both coordinators at 1.3 million and their lowest-paid dude at 310.
M is almost two million dollars behind LSU in annual compensation(!). They're right on par with OSU, FWIW. Mississippi State is a million dollars back of M, on par with Colorado, Maryland, Rutgers… and Wisconsin.
Upshot: unless there's a big shift Michigan is going to be able to pay on par with everyone else. There's enough money to pay a big time coordinator for the other side of the ball if M goes with a Narduzzi/Herman type.
PLAN B. Here's a weird-ass name I don't fully believe but know they're kicking around at some level inside the department: Marvin Lewis. The Bengals are currently at the top of the AFC North but Lewis has been on precarious ground for a while now—he got a one-year extension just before this season and would likely have to be extended again. The Bengals have been on the verge of a change there for a long time. Lewis comes with all the usual NFL hangups but at his age (57) he would likely be retiring at a hypothetical college job.
Wouldn't put too much into that since a boatload of names get kicked around, but if Cinci does fire the guy keep an eye on him.
Beyond that, I've heard that you shouldn't take reports that so-and-so college coach isn't interested at all seriously. That's a good general rule. It is a better one in this specific case. I know that people who have supposedly ruled themselves out have done no such thing and would welcome sincere post-Harbaugh interest from M.
|OC/QB @ Iowa St||2009-11|
|OC/QB @ Rice||2007-08|
|OC @ Texas St||2005-06|
|WR @ Sam Houston||2001-04|
|WR at Cal Lutheran, 1994-97|
These again. We're skipping Harbaugh because it's not like you need to be told about Harbaugh. In the event M does hire him, he'll get one.
These are in approximate order of personal preference.
I know, I know: must be head coach, if not head coach doom doom doom. To me that thinking is excessively narrow when you start talking about guys like Gary Pinkel and Steve Addazio. Many of the standout coaches in college football today started their head coaching careers at Power 5 schools—even major ones.
Here is a list of currently active college head coaches who had never been head coach before their appointment at a Power 5 school, in approximate groupings:
note: "outsider" includes people brought in from the outside as designated successors who went through a coach-in-waiting period like Fisher and Bielema.
Jimbo Fisher (Florida State), Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), Charlie Strong (Texas via Louisville), Dan Mullen (Mississippi State), Bret Bielema (Arkansas via Wisconsin), Bill Snyder (KSU), Mark Richt (UGA), Dana Holgorsen (WVU), Les Miles (LSU via Okie State), James Franklin (PSU via Vandy)
Steve Sarkisian (USC via Washington).
GROOMED INTERNAL CANDIDATES
Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State), Gary Patterson (TCU), Dabo Swinney (Clemson), Mark Helfrich (Oregon), Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern), Kyle Whittingham (Utah), David Shaw (Stanford).
WE HIRE THESE GUYS BECAUSE WE HAVE FEW ALTERNATIVES
- Paul Chryst (Pitt), Scott Shafer (Syracuse), Paul Rhoads (ISU), Kliff Kingsbury (Texas Tech), Kyle Flood (Rutgers), Derek Mason (Vandy), Mike Leach (WSU via Texas Tech), Mark Stoops (Kentucky), Kevin Wilson (Indiana)
This is biased in favor of good coaches because bad ones get fired, but this list contains 18 names before you even get to the "no alternative" section—approximately half of Power 5 existing head coaches had no experience with a top job when hired.
- In addition, there are a number of current head coaches with very brief or almost irrelevant head coaching experience. Before Nick Saban was hired at MSU he had all of one year as a HC at Toledo; Gus Malzahn was at Arkansas State for a single year before Auburn scooped him up; Hugh Freeze was at the same place for a single year and had a couple years at something called Lambuth beforehand.
When you take the guys who were hired based on things other than their head coaching experience you have a collection of assistant-hirin' schools that are amongst the biggest in college: Florida State, Oklahoma, Georgia, Oklahoma State, Washington, Oregon, Clemson, Wisconsin, Auburn, Ole Miss.
Hiring a hot assistant is a valid option if the right guy is available. And Tom Herman has a case that he's the right guy.
[After THE JUMP: all about that case.]
who are you going to believe, a black and white 1950s comic strip or common sense?
YOU HAVE BEEN OFFERED THE JOB. Michigan is talking to people now. One of those people was David Cutcliffe or his agent, which led wildly inaccurate NFL.com insider Gil "Thorp" Brandt to assert that he had been offered the job and turned it down. What actually happened: Michigan gauged his interest and he said no thanks*. Or nothing at all, but taking public statements from the people involved at face value is never advisable in a coaching search.
If Michigan did contact him, why would Cutcliffe say "no thanks"? He's 60 and underwent triple-bypass surgery in 2005 that he thought might end his coaching career; Duke was described to me as a "surprise retirement job" for him. Anyone could call him and he would not leave Durham, where he has infinite job security and a level of commitment he can be comfortable with.
What does this say about Michigan's end? They're casting a wide net and poking anyone who looks like a quality college head coach so they have a list of interested people in the event they don't get Harbaugh. Asking after Cutcliffe is a good idea—he's a terrific coach. Or it means nothing at all in the event it didn't happen.
NEXT UP ON LET'S GO NUTS ABOUT A PHONE CALL. Michigan talked to Les Miles's agent yesterday, according to everyone except LSU. (See what I am saying about public statements?) This spawned a WHAT DOES IT MEAN thread on the board that was a little overheated—not that I expected anything else. It's clear that Miles is a guy Michigan should ask about if their policy is "let's talk to good head coaches," even if there remain conflicts between Miles and big chunks of the program alumni.
A call is a call. It means that Miles is not entirely off the list; it doesn't mean much more than that. It has spawned a lot of insiders chattering about how he might be #2 on the list, which would be a shock to me. If so, Hackett is an OG for real. There are a lot of "over my dead body" hurdles to clear there.
An alternate possibility: Hackett made a very public overture to Miles—every newspaper and site had it yesterday, and prominently—in an effort to spur Harbaugh to a decision. That doesn't necessarily mean Miles isn't a legit candidate. The nature of the contact when everything else is murky and disputed is a clear signal to Harbaugh, though.
*HERE IS HOW THIS WORKS. Search firms create a pool of candidates; when they do that they make sure that pool consists of people actually inclined to take the job. A reader who's been involved in these sorts of things details the process:
Anybody who’s been involved in either side of a job search conducted by a search firm knows that the search firm’s job is to create a pool of candidates. As a potential candidate, you get a call (or, I guess if you are important enough, your agent gets it) from a staffer at the search firm. The person asks you whether you’d be interested in being a candidate. (Sometimes the first question is whether you know anybody who’d be interested and would be a good candidate.)
You ask about the process - how many people are they contacting? What’s the timeline? In my world, to commit to the process, you actually have to do something like write a letter of interest and submit your C.V, and I don’t know if that’s true for coaches. But you DO have to commit to expending time, energy, and the possibility of disappointment if you say “yes.”
So from time to time I will get a call about an opening because I’m a plausible candidate, even if it is only to make sure that the firm has fulfilled its duty to create the pool. And in most cases, I’ll make an immediate decision that throwing my hat in the ring isn’t worth it, because the likelihood of getting the job just isn’t worth the physical and psychic costs.
The news story on Cutcliffe in particular struck home that way. He’s a plausible candidate to have in the pool. He’s got a good job. He’s not likely to make the final cut. He says, “no, thanks, I’m not interested,” not because he wouldn’t like the idea of being the coach at Michigan (just as I wouldn’t mind being the dean at the XYZ Law School), but because he says or thinks, as I do, if Jim Hackett (or the equivalent provost in my case) really wants me, have him give me a call and we can cut to the chase, but I’m not willing just to fill out your NCAA 64 team bracket.”
There, I feel better.
Michigan is obviously creating this pool in earnest now.
BUT WHAT ABOUT HARBAUGH? I don't think this means much about Harbaugh. It rules out wildly optimistic scenarios in which Harbaugh has already agreed to the job and is going to punch Jed York on the field Sunday before escaping in a block M emblazoned helicopter, giving the stadium an epic double bird while laughing maniacally on his way out.
Michigan is uncertain enough that they're giving themselves a fallback option, or fallback options. This fits with the general belief that Michigan has come after Harbaugh with a very strong offer and hopes he accepts it, but doesn't know.
I've heard conflicting things, but one thing that seems clear is that Harbaugh is 100% honest when he tells the media he is not focused on anything other than his current job. If the 49ers get eliminated from the playoffs things might start moving faster then. Right now Harbaugh is still maniacally focused on something other than where he'll be next year. Frustrating; also why he's a very good coach.
NFL OPENINGS NOT SO OPEN. Despite currently being 5-8 in his second year with the Bears, local opinion holds that Marc Trestman will be back next year. Harbaugh was of course a Bears QB for a long time and an open Chicago job was described as a "problem" a few weeks ago.
how not to conduct a coaching search
an epic poem in iambic pentameter
by Jeremy Foley
"DISORGANIZED." Bruce Feldman called Michigan's search that while discussing Cutcliffe, and we've heard other media people echo that assertion. For one, I don't think that's knowable. For two, M has been laser-focused on Harbaugh; agree with that approach or not it is a clear goal Michigan is pursuing before exploring other options.
For three, I fail to see why Michigan's search is being held up for ridicule when Nebraska just hired a 62-year-old who's under .500 in the last five years and Florida—Florida!—botched their search so badly that half of the media in a five-state radius descended on their negotiations. Those negotiations fetched a guy with three years of head coaching experience for a seven million dollar buyout. Michigan doesn't have a coach yet, sure. I'd rather have this search than either of those.
PLAN B. Still nothing resembling clarity. Scout's Jamie Newberg reports($) that Jim Mora, Dan Mullen, Bob Stoops, and Butch Jones have all said no thanks; 247's Clint Brewster reports that Mullen and… erk… Bret Bielema could be next options after Harbaugh. He also says Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell is not so much, after Sam named him a person of interest. Nobody knows!
Similarly, opinions on how realistic a Miles candidacy is are all over the place. Brewster says "some people directly tied to NFL and college agents" say it's his to lose(!); Rivals and Scout are far more circumspect—or at least were. Today the chatter is that he's moving up, potentially way up. In this case I place far more trust in the local guys than some agent chatter. But, man.
At least there's this: on GBW's new, insane rumor board Sam noted that Schiano's support comes from his agent and this guy who runs the search firm and his detractors include($) "anyone with coaching experience" still affiliated with M. So we can rule that out, I imagine.
Greg Davis is drawing up a zone read, so he can't be a candidate at least
Seth: How does Michigan screw this one up?
Either of those would be a swift kick to the searchbits; otherwise I'm optimistic about the search (both process and outcome). This may lead to me posting a bunch of Gob Bluth clips on Twitter, but I don't think Michigan screws this up.
[After the jump: more all too realistic scenarios in which Michigan decides we need more mediocrity and stupid.]