i would find this more credible if it was about Tom Crean
[ED: Hey guys! Ace is looking for a few good questions for a basketball season preview mailbag. Hit him up at email@example.com.]
Meta-response about yesterday's post.
[ED: I normally hack out praise from these emails in an effort to be as concise as possible but it was not possible to do so here without making bronx sound like a jerk.]
I've been trying to think of a better way to ask this, but I can't so I'll just come out with it:
What is/was your goal with reporting about the Brandon emails?
Man, yeah, that comes across as condescending. Let me try to explain.
I'm not saying they shouldn't be given their due. and I respect the hell out of you and Ace putting in the effort to figure out their veracity; count me in the camp of people who doubted WD's initial post due to the inconsistencies in his story. Following through on the story and backing it up with multiple sources is the type of reporting you don't expect to see from a "fan" site, and yet you guys did better work than I've seen in a long time from more established media members in the community. Heck, it's basically you guys and the Daily kicking ass in that department.
But once the dust settles, how do you see this information positively or negatively affecting the program going forward? I've made my feelings known about Brandon and how, frankly, this really shouldn't accelerate his removal (I mean, if his handling of Gibbons, Morris, ticket prices, attendance, stadium experience, alumni relations, coaching snafus, losing, etc. doesn't do him in but bitchy emails do I'll be a bit disappointed in the administration for needing something so trivial to move them to action), but I honestly want to know your take. Do you think the fan's role in the turmoil surrounding the program, now being given a wider public forum by your site than in the past, will ultimately hurt its recovery going forward?
For example, you mentioned in your podcast that fans' habits can be broken quickly and it can take a generation to get them back. You and Ace seem to think that Brandon and Hoke coming back would lead to an exodus, but are you worried that the level of vitriol displayed by the fans already shows the pivot point already happened, and that everything from this point on is just piling on and driving even more fans away? Personally, I'm less and less excited to follow this team even this year because it is just a clown show made worse by the negative tone so many fans seem to hold toward it. My Facebook feed is full of people linking to articles calling for Hoke an co. to be booted (many to mgoblog), and lots of them were moderately-sane fans before the last couple of years. I'm not saying you and the site are to blame for any of it; you are just reporting and commenting on the shit show being trotted out every week. But do you think we'll look back in a couple of years and wonder if too much gas was thrown on the fire?
And again, I'm conflicted even asking this, because you guys have a duty to ferret out these idiots and bring them to the public's eye, and you do a great job at capturing the Michigan zeitgeist effectively. But there's just such a toxic culture around the program, and I wonder even if they get some homerun hires (which I'm a bit dubious about), if some of this damage will linger.
Anyway, feel free to respond however you want; if part of this makes its way into a mailbag or something then by all means out me and respond how you wish. I'm fine with it. I honestly just want to know.
I made a decision to let the original Have A Happy Life email stand—in fact I made a decision to re-instate it after one of the mods pulled it 200 comments deep—and from there things proceeded inexorably to yesterday's post.
I let it stand because I thought it was true.
[After THE JUMP: a full run-down of the decision to run with this story and evaluation about whether this was in error.]
You're going to see plenty on these pages about guys we think might coach at Michigan next year, since it's pretty much a sure thing at this point that Hoke will not. I thought it would be as good a time as any to build some sort of consensus of what we're looking for and how much of it we want relative to other factors. Other than, you know. "Jim Harbaugh."
Last week one of the diarists put together a matrix for evaluating the coaching candidates. I didn't like how he weighted the things, so at the time I put together a draft version of a more detailed "what we're looking for" system. I have since overhauled and updated it to be a more accurate reflection of my feelingsball:
The last five Michigan hires are given at the time of their selection to establish a baseline. Some things may seem wonky, like Bo being rather low, but remember his resume was that of an assistant (not coordinator) who'd been successful in the MAC. Some candidates in short:
|Category:||Jim Harbaugh||Dan Mullen||Gary P'son||Les Miles||Mike Gundy||Tom Herman||Bob Stitt||Pat Narduzzi|
|Success (25 max)||43*||24||23||42*||28*||12||12||12|
* I calculated success but maxed it out at 25, at which point the guy's proven he can coach.
We can change things around but I figured one matrix would be useful for our discussions going forward. At least it passes the eye exam. Kinda. I don't know how to make it stop rating Les Miles so high unless I need to raise the importance of long-term success.
Why the matrix?
Usefulness is in discussing the particular pros and cons of these guys in context, because things like "is he a culture fit" otherwise tend to outweigh "can he coach football." A brief explanation of my scoring system after the jump.
IT HAS BEGUN. Oh hell yes, we're already on FlightAware. Various people have pointed out that this plane went to a place two hours away from San Francisco and has done this several times over the last few months. Also they point out that Mississippi is not Tennessee. To them I say your petty "logic" and seeming "sanity" cannot stand in the way of an internet full of ludicrous hope.
God save this country if it ever can. FlightAware: love it or leave it. We have a song.
[Even though I'm pretty sure 95% of people who got on the Flight Aware bandwagon were joking: this particular flight has been thoroughly debunked by Sam Webb, who points out that's an alum's plane and he's got auto dealerships in the cities he flies to. This did not stop it from being on Around The Horn, because they got yammerin' to do.
Coaching search plane is not going to have a block M on it, I bet.]
ON HARBAUGH, AGAIN. Previous chatter here was an opinion from someone in the 49ers organization that Harbaugh was coming to the conclusion he might fit better in college long-term. I have a couple more infobits.
One is from the Michigan/AA side of things and indicates that he would be open to a return in the event of an AD change.
The second is intel from guys who work for another NFL franchise: it's well-known in the league that Harbaugh and the 49ers GM don't get along and that Harbaugh's relentless intensity wears on NFL players who expect to be treated like adults. This is not something you haven't heard from a half-dozen NFL reporters already.
These guys think Harbaugh will end up at Michigan, though, so that's interesting.
ON THE AD CHANGE. Support for Brandon at the regent level breaks down along party lines. I can't believe that would really matter—and of course in my opinion the only problem there is that anyone would support a man so toxic that he can cut student ticket prices 40% and still get bombarded with calls for his firing this weekend.
There are yet further suggestions that Brandon is fighting a rearguard action he's not likely to win.
Ross's about-face on Brandon is meaningful because Stephen Ross can always say nothing; if he doesn't return a phone call there is no article.
I can say that there are people in the department who think it's done, Brandon's out, and that this could become official by mid-November. Current chatter holds that one of the obvious Michigan-connected guys will be the pick as replacement, but I'd expect that would be the case until a serious search committee is formed and either includes or does not include potentially interesting non-M options.
ON HEELS AND THE DIGGING IN THEREOF. Brandon is going to go down swinging. They called another meeting, this one a mandatory one for all head coaches, about a week ago. A second-hand report from that meeting says after an apology about how it's not all about him, the upshot was the criticism was all "politically driven" and that the Board of Regents was after him because he's a Republican and there are upcoming elections. After that everything would die down.
Further, expect another letter of support organized by the department for the benefit of said regents. The email circulated to get this going indicates the level of organization here:
We wanted to keep this grassroots -- as it feels important to do so with the message of the letter. We did have a member of the leadership team and media relations take a look just to make sure there were no red flags.
You keep using that word, "grassroots." In any case, "employee publicly supports employer who hired them at high salary" is not news.
That should come out today or in the near future.
UT Rivals board as of late yesterday.
ON BUTCH JONES. The Tennessee rivals board blew up yesterday with speculation after one of their moderators confirmed that the ever-nebulous "representatives" had been in contact with Jones. That can mean anything at all, obviously.
Tennessee folks on twitter got the requisite denial-ish substance…
Butch Jones via @GoVols247: "I may have been born in Michigan, but I am from Tennessee. When you're a Vol you're a Vol For Life"
— Teran Johnson (@TeranJ_WUTK) October 28, 2014
"It's not even worth discussing," Jones said of the rumors. "No validity to it.
"I'm not going to waste your time or my time commenting on that."
I wouldn't put it at 0.00%, but things would have to go in some funny directions for Michigan to hire Jones after two years trying to rebuild the cratered Tennessee program without much to show for it.
I'd keep him on peripheral radar only.
Sources close to Miles indicate that given the Tigers talent level that they don't "think" Miles would entertain a return to his alma mater at this time.
Not much to go on there. I don't expect Michigan pursues Miles for a number of reasons, but impossible to say anything certain until we know which guy is running the search.
OTHER FOLKS' CHATTER. Steve Lorenz has a post up in which he suggests it's Boston College's Brad Bates who has his nose ahead($) in the still-hypothetical race to be the next AD, amongst various other interesting things. His read on the Harbaugh thing seem to be in harmony with my take: don't rule it out, don't assume it's happening.
An old-timey insider popped up on Rivals after a long, long hiatus when people cried out for his wisdom($). Verily, GFunk did descend from the mountain and say unto them that wheels were turning, there was probably a change in AD coming, and that if he had to guess at this point it would be Bates and Harbaugh.
Sam Webb posted a freebie with some encouraging items about Michigan moving up its timeline:
…there are high ranking donors that have voiced their feelings to Schlissel during meetings over the last few months. Now comes word that some donors are planning to speak with their checkbooks.
“(Schlissel) has been told that not another penny will be given until this is resolved,” a source told GoBlueWolverine on the condition of anonymity.
Exactly how many donors have delivered that message is unclear, but any impact outside of athletics will clearly be magnified. Especially since Michigan is in the midst of its “Victors for Michigan campaign” to raise 4 billion dollars to finance "student support, engaged learning, and bold ideas.” …
Before this latest barrage of negative feedback about Brandon the odds of the evaluation process lasting at least a month longer appeared pretty high. Now, especially with Ross’ announcement that he won’t serve as Brandon’s buffer, the opportunity for the timeline to be expedited is apparent.
Sam also adds a non-Michigan name to the pile of guys for next AD: Arizona AD Greg Byrne. Yes, the man who hired Rich Rodriguez. Byrne also hired Dan Mullen during his tenure as Mississippi State's AD from 2008-10.
Jack Miller, Yukon Cornelius, Amara Darboh
Jack, the offense didn’t score a whole lot but some people noticed the difference between last year against Michigan State and this year in terms of the offensive line holding its own. Was progress made there or does the frustration about not scoring that many points overwhelm that?
JM: “A little bit of both probably. There was some progress, especially when you compare it to the season before against Michigan State. We did a much better job picking up some of their blitzes, those type of things, and were able to move the line of scrimmage a little bit more than we did last year. Obviously the way it turned out kind of put a damper on it.”
With a record of 3-5 and just four games left to play how do the goals shift? How does the focus remain on just one game at a time? Also just kind of talk about the coaches message at this juncture in the season.
JM: “Being 3-5 it almost becomes easier to just take it one game at a time. When you’re winning you’re thinking of the big picture probably a little more. You’re thinking of what’s to come. When things aren’t going your way necessarily you buckle down and all you can really do is focus on the next game. That’s where we’re at. That’s the coaches’ message. That’s kind of been our approach throughout the season.”
BB: “Yeah, I’d agree with that. All of our focus has shifted to what’s in front of us: Indiana. The next game, that’s what we’re focused on.”
AD: “Yeah, both of those guys said it best. Just focused on Indiana right now and focused on practicing and trying to get better.”
Brennen, the way Michigan State was able to run the football…does that give an incentive to control an Indiana team that runs the ball also very well?
BB: “Yeah, they have a great back back there, their leading rusher. We definitely- we watched the State film and we’re going to have to learn from our mistakes. Definitely bring it in practice this week and be ready for that run.”
[More after THE JUMP]
If you're here for the Brandon post, scroll down or click here.
TomVH posted a lengthy article in the wake of Garrett Taylor's decommitment in which he quotes several recruits—including Taylor, Chris Clark, and Thiyo Lukusa—discussing the impact of Michigan's poor season and the accompanying uncertainty on their recruitments. As you'd imagine, it's not a fun read ($):
"I wanted to be a part of a program that knows what it takes to win and the players and coaches develop that culture. I felt like Michigan lost that while watching them play," Taylor said. "As well as the fact that I felt like Michigan wouldn't put me in the best position to get to the next level after college, especially with the problems they've had in developing their players."
Oof. Taylor will not be reconsidering Michigan as his recruitment moves forward, which... sounds about right.
Tom also posted a rundown of the commits he believes are likely to stick at Michigan despite the turmoil in his Big Ten roundup. With only nine commits left in the class, this should come as no surprise, but the list isn't a long one ($):
Quarterback Alex Malzone, offensive lineman Jon Runyan and kicker Andrew David are prospects who would likely stay committed no matter the coach, which is good for the future. Keeping Malzone will be a big deal as current quarterback Devin Gardner will be gone after this season.
Outside of Malzone, Runyan, David and most likely Brian Cole, there is a chance most of the other commitments look elsewhere.
Complicating matters is the fact that Malzone, Cole, Clark, Darrin Kirkland, and Mike Weber have all at one point or another stated an intention to enroll in December; if Michigan's coaching situation isn't resolved by then, it would put those recruits in a tough spot.
[Hit THE JUMP for Michigan's latest 2015 offeree—a recruit who might actually come, even!]
Brady talked about the defensive line at the point of attack and stopping the running game. What things will you hone in on this week, because Indiana obviously runs it pretty well, too?
“State did a good job of bringing in an extra tackle, having two tight ends, and really in general they put a lot of beef out there. What happened is some of our kids didn’t hold the point like they wanted to and from that point on they ended up coming out onto our linebackers and it all has an effect [on[ down. We weren’t happy with how we played the run. We felt like that was something we’ve done most of they year and we had to do it this game. All that being said, you see how close you are because you’re right in it. We’re starting on the fifty yard line or starting wherever or doing whatever and you’re right in it until you give up the big play. And that’s bit us this year. That happened, and that’s me because I’m going to try any way I can to put your thumb in that hole, and whenever you do that there’s a chance of something happening and that happened here. Corner blitz and it was covered, it was covered, it was covered and then it wasn’t covered.
“The one that upset me more than anything was the goal line run down there in the first half. They came out- it was a good job by them. They came out in tempo. They hadn’t shown any tempo. I was looking to make a call and all of a sudden I look up and they’re on the line of scrimmage and that’s me, that’s not them. I felt really bad about that because our kids, they don’t deserve that. They work so hard. They really were into this game and they really wanted to show supposedly what kind of defense they are and not that.”
Brady was asked about what was left to accomplish this year just given the way things are and what’s left, maybe a bowl. When you talk to your guys about what’s left what are those [things you] focus [on]?
“Become as good as they can be. Go out every day and do what we started the season out to do, and that was one of the things we talked about watching the tape. We’re going to coach as hard or harder than we have all year and expect them to play as hard as they have and I still expect good things will happen for them and there’ll be no let down. That’s not the way our kids are, and it’s definitely not the way we are or I am and I have all the confidence in the world that our kids are going to come out and play their butts off because that’s who they are. We’ve got to go one game at a time.
“This next one is going to be, defensively, a real challenge. You’re going against a great running back. You saw what they did last year. They put some points up so this is the next one. This is a big test for our kids because you get all this not having success like you’ve worked to have and can you bounce back? Can you bounce back? And I believe they will. I really believe that this group will.”
[After THE JUMP: It’s a Joe Bolden/Jake Ryan/Delano Hill hype party and you’re all invited]