From John Buccigross himself so likely to be accurate:
— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) April 23, 2017
Everyone reading this likely has at least a vague idea of who Mel Pearson is, but the Cliffs Notes: long, long time Red Berenson assistant who left to be the head coach at Michigan Tech, his alma mater, several years ago. Michigan immediately dropped off and Tech got a lot better. A lot. In 2015 the Huskies got their first bid to the NCAA tournament since 1981(!), and Tech was a two-seed. They went again this year by winning their conference tourney.
It's a bit hard to tell exactly how much Tech's newfound success comes from Mel and how much is the radical reshaping of Western college hockey occasioned by the creation of Big Ten hockey. The WCHA went from the most powerful league in the country to a mid-major, and Tech's rise is partially due to that.
On the other hand, Tech was top five in ES Corsi the last three years. Mel Pearson can coach, and he knows his way around Ann Arbor. It might work out. From a year ago:
I was going to put a vertical line on the chart when Mel left for Tech and then I realized it was already more or less there. It's the blue uptick and red downtick in 2012. Pearson got Tech in the tourney for the first time since 1981 last year. This year the Huskies won their first conference title since 1976. (I realize this WCHA is not the old WCHA but when you're Tech hockey any hardware is a miracle.) They've currently scrapped their way onto the bubble again. Pearson immediately made Tech much better and now that it's his program they're at a level they haven been at since Pearson was playing in Houghton.
Yes, he's a bit older than is ideal at 57. On the other hand, Red was 57 in 1997. He won a national title the year before and the year after. Michigan has the raw tools to win a national title every year; there need be no building phase. Even if Pearson does retire at around 65, you get almost a decade out of him. That decade is immediately productive. He is obviously a top-level coach who was a linchpin of Michigan's success under Red.
I'd have preferred one of the younger slam dunk guys but the first person to compare this hire to Brady Hoke gets ejected into space.
[Sponsor Note: Joe Pichey of GoBlueBBQ makes and writes these, and we can supply him with the stuff to do so thanks to…
Wait, hold up, we’ve got a name change folks:
So MGoBlog’s favorite hummus has changed its name to Lantana, as it turns out “Eat Well Embrace Life” was a bit of a mouthful. An outrageously delicious one, true, but still that’s a lot of words. Also the green and white logo had to go.
So: Lantana—pronounced like “Santana”—The flavors remain the same, which is to say amazing—www.lantanafoods.com. Except if you shop at the Kroger on Orchard Lake they’re all out of the Carrot Siracha right now because I bought them out again for Slider Night tonight. Stop looking at me like that; hummus sliders are a thing and if you don’t believe me you’re probably eating the wrong humus]
We can’t let this trip to Italy go by without firing up the grill and tossing back a few glasses of high quality boxed wine, right? I couldn’t, because I’m classy like that. It’s been awhile since we’ve stuffed meats and cheeses inside other meats and cheeses and dipped other meats and cheeses in some tasty hummus. As a matter of fact, it’s been so long that the name has changed. Eat Well Embrace Life Hummus is now Lantana Hummus. Matt asked that we put together something for the trip to Italy in conjunction with the new name. I can never pass up the opportunity to do some live fire cooking, so here it it. This one can be done in the oven just as easy as the grill as we are cooking in a cast iron pan.
- Chicken Breasts
- Sun Dried Tomatoes
- Mozzarella and Feta Cheese
- Salt and Pepper
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Helloumi Cheese - (Whole Foods, Central Market or specialty market)
- LANTANA White Bean Hummus
[After the JUMP: Hannibal and Saban will be equally furious]
This is not a searchbits. I don't have any solid intel. This is probably going to be a thing where nobody knows anything and one day there's a new coach. But there are some tea leaves, so let's observe them.
I don’t think it will be Mel Pearson. The feeling I’ve gotten from people on both sides of the situation is that two or three years ago, it would have been a done deal. But today, I’m not sure it makes much sense for either party.
On the other hand:
Many of those same coaches believe Red wants Mel Pearson to succeed him w/ Bill Muckalt on that staff.
— Mike McMahon (@MikeMcMahonCHN) April 10, 2017
Pearson's 58, so each year Red waited took a significant chunk of his potential Michigan career. Red probably doesn't think that's true for obvious reasons. There's been a lot of talk that Pearson might stay in Houghton even if Michigan offered him the job but this is not even a particularly strong denial:
“I enjoy where I’m at, have great support there and obviously we got the program turned around, but Michigan’s Michigan so we’ll see what happens,” Pearson said.
That sounds like a guy who would move cartoonishly fast if given the opportunity.
Also, this is unintentionally revealing:
“For us, we led the country in scoring margin at Tech three years ago. I really wanted to play the same way as we did at Michigan, have a fast, uptempo team. I changed the forecheck a little bit from when we were at Michigan in our neutral zone, some systems that are little different at Tech. Part of that is because of the personnel that we have but also I try to stay on top of how the NHL plays in some ways and try to incorporate that in our system.”
The dropoff in Michigan's play when Mel left was immediate and apparent; my best guess is that he was always driving Michigan forward towards the state of the art and Wiseman either could not replicate that or just didn't have Red's ear as much. The one exception was the brilliant and modern 2015-16 power play, which was the umbrella from hell for opponents.
Dilks then divides the potential candidates into super-successful-back-up-the-dump-truck types, of which there are a surprising number, and low-hanging program alum fruit. We've talked about the dump truck names—Montgomery, Leaman, Bazin—before. The low-hanging fruits in the absence of Pearson appear to be current assistant Brian Wiseman and Bill Muckalt, currently head coach of the USHL's Tri-City Storm. Muckalt was an assistant under Mel at Tech for a bit and would probably be fine:
When Mel Pearson left Michigan after 23 years on Red Berenson’s staff to become head coach of Michigan Tech, Muckalt was the first person he contacted to assist him.
It was the second time their paths intertwined. It was Pearson who recruited Muckalt to play there after watching him score five goals in one game with Merritt in the BCJHL.
“I always admired his tenacity, his work ethic, his character; with his background it was a no-brainer hire for me,” Pearson said.
Pearson also eyed Muckalt for his own recruiting skills. “He’s such an out-going guy. You need someone who is personable and not afraid to go out on the road and work hard.”
Vagaries of USHL rostering make it hard to figure out who's any good, and Muckalt's a great example. He took over a bad team and led them to the title his first year; this year they finished last in their conference.
The dump truck names are radio silent for the most part, with one exception. Denver's Jim Montgomery is a target of the Florida Panthers, and it sounds like he might be hard to pry away from Denver even for the mondo dollars the NHL offers:
“I don’t even know if I would leave for an NHL coaching job,” Montgomery said recently. “The ability to win and live the quality of life for my family — the quality of life of being a good husband and dad, compared to an NHL coach — factors into that, plus the fact that we’re getting the (new) locker-room done. We love living here in Colorado, and it would have to take an incredible situation to leave here. Those things don’t come around very often.”
He's a Denver alum coming off a national title and is probably off the table even for a program with Michigan's resources. Leaman or Bazin may be open to Michigan's pitch, should they choose to make it. I can find nothing on the internet concerning either guy written since Red retired save the Dilks piece above; no quotes, no buzz.
Meanwhile, Michigan State hired Danton Cole a few days ago. That's not a wow hire. This Hollis quote is really something:
"It took us 21 days, but honestly, it could have just taken one," Hollis said.
A three-week dog and pony show to hire the low-hanging fruit is the kind of thing only the Hollis/Brandon wing of self-important ADs would proudly admit in public.
Cole's only college head coaching experience was a three-year stint at Alabama-Huntsville. That didn't go well, but it probably couldn't have given UAH's status in the college hockey world. Since departing UAH he's been with the NTDP. Hypothetically this would provide a recruiting advantage, except for the fact that these days most of the NTDP is committed to a college before they even get to Plymouth.
But at least he's a hockey coach, which gives him one leg up on Tom Anastos.
Side note. here's a little good recruiting news: Mike Pastujov went from a top-end talent to unranked by the CSB in their mid-term rankings. That changed in their final rankings, which saw Pastujov shoot up to 80th. Some scouts think that's still too low:
Same goes with Michael Pastujov after being unranked @ midterm. I value him even higher than #80 NHL CSS has him at. Just my opinion though.
— Andrew Weiss (@WeissFC) April 11, 2017
80th is approximately a fourth-rounder, FWIW, because euros and goalies aren't included in that ranking. Pastujov was a potential first-rounder when he committed so this is still a step back; I'll take circumstantial evidence that he can be a productive scoring line player.
- Baseball is really good. Now up to #13 in the country.
- Spring takes: It was fun. Brandon Peters looked gooooood. Speight had a bad day, but that doesn’t undo a season’s worth of seeing him start, play on the road, play injured, lead a team, etc. But man, that throw to Schoenle. But Speight was under way more pressure. But Craig was a few sheets to the wind when charting it.
- The spreading: Are they getting the RBs good receiver matchups? A zone read package to bleed Peters? Making pass protection easier? All of the above, probably.
- Like the backs. Like the receivers. The secondary looks like it reloaded.
- Craig and Brian don’t agree on their favorite walk-on OL. Frey is good—smart to have multiple coaches for a position that, including TE, is over half of your offense.
- Bush can run through some guys—you can see why they like Robo but Bush is going to be hard to keep from the field.
- Khaleke Hudson is the Peters of the defense: seeing the things translate to college ball that made him such an exciting prospect out of high school.
- Can you imagine telling Don Brown he’s not allowed to blitz?
- That bonkers field goal. The other kickers looked good too. Will Hart can punt it long but takes a long time to get it off.
- Toughest game on the schedule? Brian thinks Sam is giving Penn State too much credit. Their offense in the good part of the year was too based on bombing it downfield but that’s not going to last without Chirs Godwin.
- Hurst: we’re gonna have to get used to playing more snaps. Really wish we had a Matt Godin on this roster.
You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Audioboom.
THE USUAL LINKS
German Green (left) and Gemon Green, Wolverines. [Horns247]
Never has the "commitments come in pairs" tag been more fitting. DeSoto (Texas) twin defensive backs Gemon and German Green both committed to Michigan this afternoon, becoming the sixth and seventh commits in the 2018 class. The Wolverines got a leg up on the competition by offering both brothers; Gemon is the higher-rated and more sought-after recruit at least in part because German missed his junior year with a torn ACL. Their recent unofficial sealed the deal, per 247's EJ Holland:
“The reason why we have chosen to commit to Michigan is because when we got down there, it felt like family,” German said. “The coaches are father-type role models. They each have their own personality.
“They all have the same goals as me and my brother. They want to get us better, succeed in life and win a national championship.”
I can't wait to see their uniform nameplates. Please, please go the full name route, Isiah Thomas-style.
Let's start with Gemon, the higher-ranked of the two:
4*, #17 CB,
|3* CB||4*, 80, #42 CB||
3*, 88, #35 CB,
3*, #32 CB,
Scout is easily the most bullish on Gemon, while ESPN and 247 have him as a fringe 3/4-star and Rivals has given only a cursory three-star rating.
As for German:
|3*, #62 S||3* S||NR CB||
3*, 84, #74 CB,
3*, #84 CB,
The sites are split on whether German projects as a safety or cornerback, and he's either a middling three-star or unranked—not a surprise for a prospect who missed his junior year.
The twins fit Michigan's recent predilection for lanky defensive backs; both are listed at 6'2" and in the neighborhood of 170 pounds.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and more]
Gemon (#9) is on the left, German (#10) on the right. [via Scout]
The Green twins, 2018 defensive backs German and Gemon Green of DeSoto, Texas, have gone blue, beginning the greatest adventure in nameplates since Terrance and Terry Talbott.
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) April 20, 2017
German was out with an ACL injury last year so there’s not as much on him. Both fit the tall and lanky mold this staff has favored.
4*, #17 CB, #181 Ovr
4*, 80, #42 CB
3*, 88, #35 CB,
3*, 0.8877, #32 CB, #340 Ovr
3*, #62 S
|3*, 84, #74 CB, #808 Ovr||3*, 0.8367, #84 CB, #933 Ovr|
Informative update cometh.