it's a major award
…but they apparently didn't make it. Meanwhile, the other plane that may or may not have Dave Brandon aboard is in Dallas, where a coaching convention is going on. So either Les Miles is approaching done or Brandon is in Dallas interviewing anyone who looks at him funny and the winged helmet plane heading to Baton Rouge every hour on the hour is just a bizarre coincidence.
Or both. It's likely that UM reps of some variety are in both places, so Les Miles is in play and they're talking but nothing is certain so they're trying to scout out backup plans.
Wait, there's something happening outside of football right now? Who knew?
|WHAT||Michigan v. #3 Kansas|
|WHERE||Ann Arbor, MI|
4:30 PM EST
January 9th, 2011
|THE LINE||Michigan +10.5|
Though the victory over Harvard now gives Michigan a top-50 victim in RPI, Kansas is the Wolverines' last chance for a marquee victory in the non-conference - well, their last chance for another non-conference win at all. It won't be an easy task, as Kansas is one of the top teams in the country with a 14-0 record.
On the bright side for Michigan, the Jayhawks haven't been tested on the road much, with a single game at an opponent's home court. On the not-so-bright side, that was a 15-point win over a Cal team with approximately the same Kenpom rating as Michigan.
Kansas comes in with a stacked roster including the Morris twins (Markieff and Marcus) in the frontcourt, along with super freshman Josh Selby, who has emerged as a serious threat in the past five games (he was ineligible for the first nine) - and was described as possessing a "killer instinct" by onetime camp teammate Darius Morris. Add in a number of role players who would start at almost any other program in the country,
With a few games under each team's belt, it's finally reasonable to look at the stats. If you need an explanation of the stats, check out Ken Pomeroy.
|Michigan v. Kansas: National Ranks|
|Category||Michigan Rank||Kansas Rank||Advantage|
|Mich eFG% v. KU Def eFG%||83||7||K|
|Mich Def eFG% v. KU eFG%||72||1||K|
|Mich TO% v. KU Def TO%||32||38||-|
|Mich Def TO% v. KU TO%||261||96||KK|
|Mich OReb% v. KU DReb%||277||54||KKK|
|Mich DReb% v. KU OReb%||27||22||-|
|Mich FTR v. KU Opp FTR||331||53||KKK|
|Mich Opp FTR v. KU FTR||17||142||MM|
|Mich AdjO v. KU AdjD||74||1||K|
|Mich AdjD v. KU AdjO||66||8||K|
Difference of more than 10 places in the national rankings get a 1-letter advantage, more than 100 gets a 2-letter advantage, more than 200 gets a 3-letter advantage, etc.
OMG Rebounds and free throw rate are racists. Other than that, uh... gulp?
By any measure, Kansas should be able to run Michigan off the floor. Though Michigan can claim statistical stalemates in a couple areas, the Jayhawks have a huge edge in some of them.
Michigan has been able to scheme well against teams that have a good outside game or a good inside game so far this year, but they don't have the defensive firepower to handle a squad that has both. Kansas, the best-shooting team in the country on the basis of Marcus Morris pounding inside, and a number of outside shooters. Shutting down both will be the toughest task so far this season.
Then again, that was the case last year, too. Michigan had a much worse team (despite Manny Harris and DeShawn Sims's absence, I think there's no arguing otherwise at this point) and was playing on the road, but managed to hold the final margin to just eleven points.
That said, I'll be surprised if the Wolverines are able to pull this one off. This is a young team that has faced some adversity this year (and responded well to some of it), but no test as serious this one. Expect the Morris twins to each hit double-digits, and at least three Jayhawks to connect on at least four long-range shots.
On the other side, Darius Morris will struggle to get his offense, with strong perimeter defense preventing him from getting his jumpers, and a trio of the country's top 500 shot blockers patroling the lane (the Morrises along with sophomore Thomas Robinson). Zack Novak, not Morris, will be the Wolverine to notch a double-double. Jordan Morgan will struggle offensively, but do surprisingly well on D.
In the end though, Kansas has way too much talent for Michigan to overcome. They'll use the fastbreak to score more on Michigan than any team has so far this year, emerging with the 82-64 victory.
Les pun barrage avoided. The mandarins at LSU are sticking to their story that no one's talking to them about talking to Les Miles. The chancellor's version of yesterday's statement by the AD:
“No one has said anything to me,” Martin said. “But of course a lot of these things are done with agents now, behind the scenes.”
Just like LSU's recruiting. Hey-o!
It's contagious. Jennifer Hammond was patient zero in the Michigan edition of Fruitless Jon Gruden Naming but it's spreading: I have more than one account from actual sources indicating Michigan did interview him yesterday. With Gruden an interview is usually a brief conversation about how this guy makes more money than God by saying generic things on Monday Night Football, so don't get excited. I can't believe I'm actually relaying information about Gruden and Michigan but I guess if we've deployed flight tracking Gruden couldn't have been far behind.
If, like me, you've become inured to the constant Gruden-to-everywhere speculation that seems like it's been a major feature of American culture for the last fifty years you may be surprised to find out that he's a youthful 47 and could actually be plausible in a Pete Carroll sort of way.
Speaking of flights. So the winged helmet plane that touched down in Baton Rouge when Miles was in Dallas was there for all of two hours, then took off for South Carolina. What's in South Carolina? Um… well… a few days ago it was relayed to me that Lloyd Carr was in South Carolina. He supposedly has a vacation home at Hilton Head (restaurant to the stars!). The plane flew to… Hilton Head. It then went to a regional airport in Georgia, back to Hilton Head, headed out to Westchester County, and then went back to Hilton Head.
Ironically, Carr lit out for South Carolina because he was sick of people claiming he was the nefarious power behind the throne and just wanted to get away from everything and now a plane with a winged helmet painted on it is using his location as a hub. This is either
- an amazing coincidence, or
- David Brandon smoothing over Les Miles with Lloyd Carr and random incredibly wealthy NYC-based booster who is probably Stephen Ross.
Since a good source says Brandon actually is using the winged helmet plane—Dominos was a ruse!—I lean towards the latter; this seems like a fact corroborating the Les Miles buzz. I may have to apologize to Tiger Droppings.
[Ed.: Bumped for awesome.]
For pathos purposes only.
Rodriguez: Trouble at Schembechler!
Assistant: Oh no - what kind of trouble?
Rodriguez: One on't zone reed gone owt askew on spreadshred.
Rodriguez: One on't zone reed gone owt askew on spreadshred.
Assistant: I don't understand what you're saying.
Rodriguez: [slightly irritatedly and with exaggeratedly clear accent] One of the zone reads has gone out askew in the spread n’ shred.
Assistant: Well what on earth does that mean?
Rodriguez: I don't know – Mr. Magee just told me to come in here and say that there was trouble at Schembechler, that's all - I didn't expect a kind of Coaching Inquisition.
[The door flies open and Cardinal David Brandon of Domino’s enters, flanked by two junior cardinals. Cardinal Rosenberg has goggles pushed over his forehead. Cardinal Fatcatalumnus is just Cardinal Fatcatalumnus]
Brandon: NOBODY expects the Coaching Inquisition! Our chief Replacement Candidate is Hoke...Hoke and Miles...Miles and Hoke.... Our two Replacement Candidates are Miles and Hoke...and Patterson.... Our three Replacement Candidates are Miles, Hoke, and Patterson...and an almost fanatical devotion to Harbaugh.... Our four...no... Amongst our Replacement Candidates.... Amongst our Replacement Candidatery...are such candidates as Miles, Hoke.... I'll come in again.
[The Cardinals exit]
Rodriguez: I didn't expect a kind of Coaching Inquisition.
[The cardinals burst in]
Brandon: NOBODY expects the Coaching Inquisition! Amongst our Replacement Candidatery are such diverse candidates as: Miles, Hoke, Patterson, an almost fanatical devotion to Harbaugh, and nice red uniforms - Oh damn!
[To Cardinal Rosenberg] I can't say it - you'll have to say it.
Brandon: You'll have to say the bit about 'Our chief Replacement Candidates are ...'
Rosenberg: [rather horrified]: I couldn't do that...
[Brandon bundles the cardinals outside again]
Rodriguez: I didn't expect a kind of Coaching Inquisition.
[The cardinals enter]
Rosenberg: Er.... Nobody...um....
Rosenberg: Expects... Nobody expects the...um...the Coaching...um...
Brandon: Coaching Inquisition...
Rosenberg: I know, I know! Nobody expects the Coaching Inquisition. In fact, those who do expect -
Brandon: Our chief Replacement Candidates are...
Rosenberg: Our chief Replacement Candidates are...um...er...
Rosenberg: Hoke and --
Brandon: Okay, stop. Stop. Stop there - stop there. Stop. Phew! Ah! ... our chief Replacement Candidates are Hoke...blah blah blah. Cardinal, read the charges.
Fatcatalumnus: You are hereby charged that you did on diverse dates commit heresy against the House of Bo. 'My old Michigan Man said follow the--'
Rosenberg: That's enough.
[To Rodriguez] Now, how do you plead?
Rodriguez: I’m innocent.
Brandon: Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
Rosenberg: We'll soon change your mind about that!
Brandon: Miles, Hoke, and a most fanatical -- [controls himself with a supreme effort] Ooooh! Now, Cardinal -- the MAJOR VIOLATIONS!
[Rosenberg produces a ONE-PAGE LIST OF NCAA MAJOR VIOLATIONS. Brandon looks at it and clenches his teeth in an effort not to lose control. He hums heavily to cover his anger]
Brandon: You....Right! Tie him down.
[Fatcatalumnus and Rosenberg make a pathetic attempt to tie Rodriguez to the sheet of NCAA Major Violations]
Brandon: Right! How do you plead?
Brandon: Ha! Right! Cardinal, make the public [oh dear] make the public believe the violations.
[Rosenberg stands there awkwardly and shrugs his shoulders]
Brandon: [gritting his teeth] I know, I know you can't. I didn't want to say anything. I just wanted to try and ignore your crass mistake.
Brandon: It makes it all seem so stupid.
Rosenberg: Shall I...?
Brandon: No, just pretend for God's sake. Ha! Ha! Ha!
[Rosenberg pretends to publish the violations in the Free Press using a plastic coated dish rack as a printing press]
[Cut to them torturing Rodriguez]
Brandon: Now, Rodriguez -- you are accused of heresy on three counts -- heresy by Game Captains, heresy by Hick Accent, heresy by Not Understanding the Rivalry, and heresy by the Number One Jersey -- four counts. Do you confess?
Rodriguez: I don't understand what I'm accused of.
Brandon: Ha! Then we'll make you understand! Rosenberg! Fetch...THE INFLATABLE MICHIGAN MAN SEX DOLL!
[Rosenberg holds out an INFLATABLE MICHIGAN MAN SEX DOLL]
Rosenberg: Here it is, Lord.
Brandon: Now, Rodriguez -- you have one last chance. Confess the heinous sin of Tiny Slot Ninjas, reject the works of Casteel -- two last chances. And you shall be free -- three last chances. You have three last chances, the nature of which I have divulged in my previous utterance.
Rodriguez: I don't know what you're talking about.
Brandon: Right! If that's the way you want it -- Cardinal! Poke him with the Inflatable Michigan Man Sex Doll!
[Rosenberg carries out this rather pathetic torture]
Brandon: Confess! Confess! Confess!
Rosenberg: It doesn't seem to be hurting him, Lord.
Brandon: Have you got all the air in the schlong?
Rosenberg: Yes, Lord.
Brandon [angrily hurling away the Inflatable Michigan Man Sex Doll]: Hmm! He is made of harder stuff! Cardinal Fatcatalumnus! Fetch...THE $2.5 MILLION BUYOUT!
[Zoom into Fatcatalumnus's horrified face]
Fatcatalumnus [terrified]: The...$2.5 million buyout?
[Rosenberg pushes in a GIANT PILE OF MONEY]
Brandon: So you think you are strong because you can survive the Inflatable Michigan Man Sex Doll. Well, we shall see. Rosenberg! Put him in the Giant Pile of Money!
[They roughly push him into the Giant Pile of Money]
Brandon [with a cruel leer]: Now -- you will stay in the Giant Pile of Money until another coaching job opens up, with only a year-long break on ESPN as an analyst. [Aside, to Rosenberg] Is that really all it is?
Rosenberg: Yes, Lord.
Brandon: I see. I suppose we make it worse by shouting a lot, do we? Confess, man. Confess! Confess! Confess! Confess!
Rosenberg: I confess!
Brandon: Not you!
Don't look at me, lady. via
As of about 5:30 LSU's athletic director was saying he hadn't been contacted about Les Miles and would shoot any Yankee who came within 500 feet of him: "Les Miles is LSU's head coach and we are going to do everything we can to keep it that way. He has had great success here and we plan to keep enjoying that success under his leadership."
But now drums in the deep say that is one lying-ass athletic director:
Michigan expressed interest in talking to LSU coach Les Miles prior to the AT&T Cotton Bowl and it is expected the meeting will occur soon, sources told ESPN.
One source close to Miles said a time and place has not been finalized. Another source said the coach would give LSU 24 hours notification before the interview and that had not occurred. Miles, a Michigan alum, would be interested in listening to athletic director Dave Brandon, one source close to him said.
In this case, drums in the deep are Joe Schad. If you work for ESPN please change his password to this.
Now… this exact same article was written three years ago—almost to the letter—but apparently no meeting ever happened or was set up. Les Miles did get punched in the face with millions of dollars, though, and his agent probably plays "have a nice day" as part of his hype-up video to this day. I'm always deeply skeptical of "sources" who are talking to the WWL and no one else because a good chunk of the time they're lying-ass agents. ESPN scoops == 50% agent vapor.
Meanwhile, my inbox has accounts that 75% guarantee Brady Hoke will be coach having a dance-off with accounts that 75% guarantee Les Miles will be coach. I don't really believe any of them, because the one thing that seems like a rock-hard certainty is that about five people have any clue WTF is going on. Even last time when there was a committee leaking left and right, almost everything that got reported about Michigan guys turned out to be crap—Hoke was never in play, and neither was Miles—and the best information came from third parties who were close to Ferentz, Schiano, and eventually Rodriguez. Rodriguez and Schiano came so far out of left field that the actual media was ahead of the rumor train—the Sporting News was the first entity to mention Rodriguez in connection with Michigan even counting GoBlue1856 and his four posts on Rivals.
This time we're dealing with a pro-Hoke crowd who knows him personally and the LSU fanbase, so… yeah. Maybe that's just me engaging in wishful thinking that the next coach's best asset won't be his ability to find Cubs' AC without a GPS, but since those two guys are so bleedingly obvious it seems easy for misinformation about them to get passed around. A similar drumbeat about a guy without connections to Michigan would be an all but certain hire. This I don't know.
The thing I was told before this all started blowing up, long before it, was that for a lot of reasons Miles would never be seriously considered for the Michigan job. Obviously I'm wavering from that point but I still think Michigan's coach is more likely than not to be someone no one is talking about right now.
COMPLETELY BOGUS PERCENTAGES:
30% Brady Hoke
20% Les Miles
50% Hot Coordinator Du Jour
BONUS: We've officially reached that bit of the coaching search: sources say Jon Gruden is "interviewing for" the job, and by "interviewing for" FSD's Jennifer Hammond means "golfing in the vicinity of." Seriously, even she hashtags that baby "takeitwithagrainofsalt." Will do, Ms. Hammond.
On the candidate pool:
Several respected people, yourself included, have correctly bashed the concept of a "Michigan Man" being a criteria for coaching this job (especially since there are so few actual Michigan Men qualified for the job despite a 38-year era to cultivate it). But what about the feeling that the new coach must be a proven head coach at a decent school? Isn't that a bit elitist of our fan base and narrowing the field substantially?
Obviously having someone with a great track record in a BCS conference reduces the risk substantially, but we just spent 3-years learning that it doesn't eliminate the risk completely. Conversely:
- Florida has been the best program in the country the past few years and just hired an coordinator with no head coaching experience and no ties to the program.
- That same coordinator was being groomed to take over at Texas, another national power, despite only being their DC for two years.
- Nebraska is one of the all-time winningest programs and has returned to respectability (after a similar coaching debacle) by hiring a coordinator with no head coaching experience.
- Wisconsin has been a force in the conference since promoting a DC who had minimal experience.
- OSU has been one of the elite programs in the country after hiring a Div-1AA coach.
What makes us as a fan base require the candidates to be proven commodities at a big school? What about plucking an up-and-coming coordinator from somewhere who will work their tail off because it is their first job? Why aren't their names like that on all the list of candidates being thrown around?
When I put together a list of the six plausible-if-they-'d-come candidates a few days ago they were all D-I head coaches, but I was basing that off Dave Brandon's assertion in the press conference that they'd be looking for someone who's currently a college head coach. I'm not necessarily advocating it myself. In fact, with everyone on that list off the table or a real longshot to start, it's time to move on to hot coordinators at BCS schools.
You want a guy who is in the right age bracket with a track record of excellent performances on his side of the ball under a head coach that either specializes on the other side of the ball or is more of a CEO type: Pelini, Muschamp, and Bielema all fit that profile. So did Chip Kelly, Bob Stoops, and Mark Richt. That's probably four of the fifteen most prestigious programs in the country plus knocking-on-the-door Oregon and Wisconsin. Hot coordinators aren't just for the middle of the pack.
Who's out there right now?
- Gus Mahlzahn, OC, Auburn. Turned down Vandy job for payday at Auburn but there's only so much you can pay an OC and Vanderbilt's a deathtrap he was probably using for leverage more than anything else. Obvious con is that he's a real Southerner from the South and this will set off fainting spells across the land.
- Brent Venables, DC, Oklahoma. A slight violation of the principles above since Stoops is a defensive guy but he's getting up there and has probably removed himself from the day-to-day operations enough that Oklahoma's consistently excellent defense is largely Venables. He's young (40) but has seven years as a DC under his belt. Midwest connections are lacking.
- Paul Chryst, OC, Wisconsin. Interviewed for but either didn't get or didn't take the Texas OC job, but has made the Wisconsin offense terrifying. At 45 about ready to move up after almost a decade as a successful OC. Downside: hard to think of a more extreme mismatch with Michigan's offensive talent. Actually five years older than Bielema so it would take an implosion in Madison for the fact Wisconsin's his alma mater to be relevant.
- Tom Bradley, DC, Penn State. I mean why not at this point, right? Bradley's interviewing for jobs left and right and if he's not actually the new guy at Pitt he clearly seems willing to move on. He's been the defacto head coach at Penn State for years, has been the backbone of their consistently excellent defense, and could bring along a big chunk of staff with him. Caveat: he'd have to agree to an exorbitant you-can't-go-home-again buyout.
- Bud Foster, DC, Virginia Tech. The backbone of the good bit of Virginia Tech. People have tried to pry him out of Blacksburg forever and he hasn't gone but they've been offering DC jobs, not the head chair. A glance at his stats is ridiculous: the last five years VT has been sixth nationally or better in yardage defense. Is 51, so if he's ever going to be a head coach now's the time. Has interviewed at Pitt.
That's a list not far off the list of head coaches with one important difference: Michigan's likely to get one of the above. Again, if Brady Hoke was a former Penn State assistant would he be more attractive than those guys? I prefer someone with a 20-year timeframe who's proven he can assemble half of a conference championship-caliber team in the BCS to someone who, you know, hasn't.
Malzahn might bring scoffs about Midwest ties and Southern oh noes and whatnot but look at him:
This man is kind of a dork. In certain shots he looks a bit like Alton Brown. The latest bit of fluff on him from Pat Forde deploys the phrase "impregnable earnestness." He's also 45 and was the guy in charge of three wildly different, wildly successful offenses in five years as a coordinator. The fourth and fifth years were not quite as amazing but still saw teams rocking Chris freakin' Todd and freshman Mitch Mustain at quarterback finish 18th and 29th in total offense. Brandon mentioned offensive flexibility in the press conference. Mahlzahn offenses have been run-mad (2006 Arkansas and 2009-10 Auburn), pass-mad (2007 Tulsa) or both (2008 Tulsa).
There will be questions about recruiting and ties and whatnot but with Harbaugh gone we're now picking between questions, and I prefer "will this guy with an awesome offense that fits Denard like whoah be able to recruit and find a DC?" to "how long will a pro-style rebuild take and how much of my soul will die watching Denard play for someone else?"
I mean, who would Jeremy Foley hire?
Why not Mike Gundy? Other than the presser blowup and the whole leaving your alma mater thing, he'd seem like a good hire.
He's a man and he's now 43, so he's in a good spot as far as longevity but I didn't throw Gundy on the list because the blowup seemed like it would be offputting in the aftermath of Press Consumes Rodriguez Alive As Family Watches In Horror. Meanwhile, T. Boone Pickens will match anything Michigan can put out there and there is the whole alma mater thing. I didn't think he was plausible since the situation was "Pat Fitzgerald except the school can pay him."
In the name of equal time, section in which Hoke is defended:
How you could advocate Patterson over Hoke is absolutely beyond me. Patterson has no ties whatsoever to the midwest. He has only recruited Texas, yes his schemes are fundamentally sound but as we saw with RR there is way more to football than that. I wholeheartedly disagree with you on that one. Give Hoke as much time as Patterson has had in the Mountain West and he will have as much success.
Seriously? How on earth are we supposed to expect that a guy who's had two years in eight above .500 is as good of a coach as a guy with 8 of 10 above .500, most of them featuring eleven wins—TCU has won 11 games six(!) times under Patterson. He's vastly more proven than Hoke, whose single comparable season ended with blowout losses against Buffalo and Tulsa. Patterson just beat Wisconsin. There is absolutely no comparison between their resumes.
"Ties to the midwest" are somewhat important, but a couple local assistants can help smooth over any minor recruiting bumps and shouldn't outweigh a record of 98-28 over ten years. Ten years! Averaging 9.8 wins per year! Flargabargaegabarb.
Despite my antipathy for him it's not like Hoke is a guaranteed failure. However, it's hard to see him not providing another awkward transition period and then being at the tail end of his career by the time he gets something up and going. The upside is low, and frankly I don't want to return to whatever philosophy Carr had at the end of his career when OSU zoomed by him and Michigan flailed about with no answers. Michigan is in this situation because the Carr coaching tree doesn't exist and his version of bringing in Bret Bielema (a wildly successful DC at Kansas State) or Chip Kelly was to gradually force out Terry Malone in favor of Mike DeBord. Look at what Mack Brown's doing at Texas and compare it to the way Carr went out.
I want nothing to do with anyone who was a part of that unless someone else has employed them in a similar capacity because it's clear who you know became more important than anything late. Michigan cannot go home again and would be making a mistake by trying.