this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
I have no idea how to judge the truthiness of this post from HawkeyeLounge.com helpfully linked in the comments of the last post, but it looks like we might get resolution on this Ferentz thing soon:
I have a decent source connected to the Michigan athletic department. He stated to me in an in e-mail this evening that Ferentz had been offered the job and this evening he accepted. The final details and announcement will come in 24-48 hours.
MH check your PM and I'll explain this one to you. I'm not convinced on this, but this source has credibility. I hope he's not playing me. I'll take the heat if this is wrong.
...but after the standard "this means nothing... nothing!" response, a couple posters vouch for this guy; the forthright admission of doubt makes me place a bit more faith in the information, ironically. (Obviously, this is nothing close to solid.)
Another point of confirmation (about the offer, not a potential acceptance) comes from the RCMB. One of the posters there is an editor at an Iowa newspaper; he claims that two separate media sources are telling him Ferentz has an offer.
Update: FWIW, same RCMB poster says two people have called him, saying they "heard" Ferentz had accepted the job; another says he has a family member on the staff who hasn't heard anything as of a few hours ago.
Woo! Rumors, these. Not facts. The first and foremost is really close to a fact type thing, as close as these things can be, but if the most likely outcome... er... comes out, no one will ever know if this was true or not. So take the following FWIW, which is not to say I lack confidence in the voracity of the following... it's just that much of it is, by its very nature, un-confirmable. Thus the "rumormongering" label and not the "actual news" label. End justifications.
I've sat on this a couple days waiting for some third-party corroboration and now I have it: Kirk Ferentz has been offered the Michigan job. The general feeling is he will turn it down out of fidelity to Iowa, in case you were thinking of making a late-night run to Ann Arbor (or Iowa City) Torch & Pitchfork. I do realize that this -- unlike the Lloyd thing -- is unlikely to ever be publicly acknowledged if Ferentz turns it down, but this comes from someone in a position to know, and how. The third-party corroboration comes from a couple Iowa insiders reporting things afoot that, unfortunately, I am not at liberty to disclose.
Suffice it to say that Wednesday's post on Ferentz not making sense and this being a weird rumor is withdrawn: there's a real chance he's the next coach. It's not probable given Ferentz's deep ties to Iowa, but it's not Kevin Stallings as I suggested earlier.
BONUS item that I don't have multiple sources on, so consider this not 100% reliable, but logical: Grand Valley's athletic director has been contacted by a Michigan representative doing due diligence on Brian Kelly. That representative? Lloyd Carr. That might explain the prominence in Ferentz in the search. The Horror, evidently, was not enough to shake Carr's influence despite the claims made in his outgoing press conference.
BONUS BONUS item: Grand Valley's AD has been contacted by another athletic director doing background checks on Kelly. His name? Kevin White. His school? Notre Dame.
Fairly stunning article from Louisiana:
Should LSU coach Les Miles get offered and accept the head job at Michigan, there is the possibility he could still be with the Tigers for the BCS national title game on Jan. 7 in New Orleans if LSU were to make it that far.
LSU athletic director Skip Bertman said if such a scenario develops, he would want Miles to coach the Tigers in the national championship game before leaving for Michigan.
"If it were to be a national championship and the advantage for LSU to win, it would be my opinion that I'd want the coach (Miles) there to win the game," he said. "But I think that the decision to be made is too premature to even talk about for something like that."
If LSU is willing to let Miles coach the national title game after accepting the Michigan job it looks like the optimal solution for all parties is out there for the taking: Miles taking the job after the SEC Championship Game, quickly deciding on a staff, and then resuming his preparation for the national title game as the holdovers get in contact with all current and prospective recruits.
And what does it say that the athletic director is willing to come out with this publicly? Forgive me if I'm reading way too much into one quote, but that implies Bertman knows 1) Miles is very likely to be offered the job and 2) if asked to choose right now, will go with Michigan. The only thing that might prevent Miles from being Michigan's coach is Michigan pulling the ultimate in dastardly moves and insisting Miles leave, something which would deservedly tar the program in the court of public opinion. And what possible motivation would Michigan have to do that if they've got their man locked up already?
That's a nice headstone. I feel like singing. LSU's AD continues to whistle past the graveyard, but as he does so he's saying some nice things about Les:
"I don't think this is a real money issue, No. 1," Bertman said. "This guy's more family-oriented and more community-minded and â€” this is my word â€” nobler than most of the coaches that I've dealt with.
"I think that this guy wants to come to work every day and feel comfortable. I think the people that he wants to come to work every day and feel comfortable with are on his side 100 percent of the time."
Standard AD-speak, perhaps.
Odds. These are always sucker bets, but an oddsmaker's view on the next Michigan coach:
Les Miles, LSU coach -- 2/1
Kirk Ferentz, Iowa coach -- 9/2
Mike Trgovac, Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator -- 5/1
Brian Kelly, Cincinnati coach and former Central Michigan and Grand Valley coach -- 6/1
Ron English, U-M defensive coordinator -- 6/1
Bret Bielema, Wisconsin coach -- 7/1
Bobby Petrino, Atlanta Falcons coach -- 10/1
Jon Gruden, Tampa Bay Bucs coach -- 10/1
Jim Harbaugh, Stanford coach and U-M alum -- 10/1
Bill Cowher, ex-Pittsburgh Steelers coach -- 15/1
Field (all others) -- 2/1
The credence you give this should drop precipitously as you scan down the list and find Bret Bielema (AFAIK the only reason anyone ever mentions him is that Dienhart keeps pushing him as a candidate) and Harbaugh, but for whatever it's worth. Since there's no Debord, I declare it worth one million dollars.
Right, speaking of... a Detroit News article on how Michigan will interview the coordinators has some downright laughable stuff from Debord on his term at Central:
"The way I defend that is, I will say this: We went in there, we put a culture together just like Michigan, we were, it's nothing against the kids, but we weren't as talented as we wanted to be," DeBord said. "When they won the championship, those were with sophomores, juniors and seniors that our staff had recruited. We had taken a program that was at the bottom of the conference, and we elevated it recruiting-wise to go win the conference championship.
"I know what the record is, but I also do know where we started and what ended up happening and what is still happening."
Maybe this would be slightly plausible if Debord had been forced out at CMU, but he did not. He packed up his 12-34 record and quit, quit like a little girl whose piano lessons are too hard. CMU's AD and president on Debord:
University President Michael Rao said he believed one of the reasons for DeBord's resignation was his dislike for many of the public relations functions of the job.
"He kept talking about how he didn't like the lunches and the public relations," Rao said. "It was really getting to him. I was kind of surprised." ...
Rao said he had two 30-minute conversations with DeBord prior to his resignation, in which DeBord expressed the exact sentiments.
"He said the losses over time were really getting to him," Rao said. "He also talked about whether he really wanted to be a head coach. He felt an assistant coach role was probably more of a fit for him." ...
Athletics director Herb Deromedi also met with DeBord multiple times before the resignation.
"He came to us and told us that he would resign," Deromedi said. "What we attempted to do is to meet with him and ask him to reconsider. We had met at his home several times, but he was fairly certain."
Mike Debord packed up his stuff and went home because he couldn't handle the PR and the losing. A few years later he "put a culture together just like Michigan," which is true if the reporter omitted "specifically, their offense against Ohio State" but completely ridiculous otherwise. The one silver lining in this turd sandwich of a season is getting this guy the hell away from Michigan's football program.
Dienhart what? Latest from Tom Dienhart:
Another factor: The Michigan assistant coaches have guaranteed deals, which means the new coach might be forced to work with the current staff. Will that be a deal-breaker for some candidates?
Yes, the assistant coaches have guaranteed deals. The guarantee, however, is that they will be paid in 2008, not that they will work for Michigan. It might be a bit expensive to shuffle the staff out wholesale, but if a new coach wants most of the guys out the door there's no reason it won't happen. The most likely scenario is that a few staff members are retained (Campbell and Stripling seem the most likely, maybe Loeffler and English), but only a few.
Not news, but there's an article. Jim Harbaugh has a realistic perspective on his prospects for the Michigan job:
"As far as the opening they have, the Michigan people will do a great job in selecting someone to carry on that tradition," Harbaugh said. "It's not going to be me. I am happy where I am."
As mentioned before: next.
Additionally evasive. Brian Kelly does not sound like a man married to Cincinnati:
Would Kelly be interested?
"From my standpoint, it's similar to all the questions relative to the bowl games," Kelly said Monday during the Big East's weekly coaches' conference call. "Our focus is on Syracuse. That's the most important thing. Any speculation relative to bowls and jobs, we've got plenty of time for that after the Syracuse game (Saturday).
"The focus for me and my football team is going to be on getting nine wins for the first time since the 1950s. Job speculation and all those things, we've got plenty of time to do that after this weekend."
Ferentz Miles falls through, he would be an excellent fallback plan.
Recruiting stuff. Dann O'Neill reiterates his Michigan commit...
"My decision hasn't changed. Not one bit," O'Neill said Monday evening, the same day Carr held a press conference announcing that he would step down as the Wolverines' head coach after 13 seasons in charge. "Michigan is still the right fit for me, a school that I've always wanted to go to. They're my dream school and that hasn't changed."
...in another article; he sounds completely solid. He also has some news on another OL commit:
"Elliot Mealer (an offensive lineman from Wauseon, Ohio) is one guy that I stay in contact with quite a bit, and he's staying put too," O'Neill said. "Actually, I don't think anyone is changing their mind. Everyone is still on board."
The Free Press has a more negative quote from Boubacar Cissoko:
"I was kind of surprised," Cissoko said of Carr's retirement. "I was looking forward to playing for him. I got to weigh my options, take my visits and see who the next coach going to be
and go from there."
Cissoko, who's 5-feet-8, 171 pounds, said he would try to set up visits to Tennessee, Illinois and Penn State to start the week after Thanksgiving. He said he still was leaning toward attending U-M, but he wanted a backup plan in case he wasn't wanted or he wasn't fond of the coaching hire.
"Bring in a new coach and a new staff.....they might kick you to the curb, so that's something you got to look after," Cissoko said.
Same article from Toledo's Kevin Koger:
"Just pick a guy that's all about winning, because all I want to do is win," said Toledo Whitmer tight end Kevin Koger, who insisted he still was firmly committed to U-M.
Realistically, we won't know who's committed and who isn't until we know which assistants are being retained. If English stays that would help.
One guy who seems a major threat to bolt: Sam McGuffie. Facts about Sam:
- McGuffie's mom said she wanted him to go to A&M on national TV.
- M RB coach Fred Jackson was really, really high on him early and his close relationship with McGuffie was a major reason for his commitment.
- Jackson recruits Louisiana and is likely to be one of the primary sources of all the "Loose Morals" talk. Meanwhile, current LSU RBs coach Larry Porter has been with Miles since Oklahoma State and appears to be a killer recruiter. Last year he hauled in a bumper crop of Texans and Lousianans, including five-star coup Terrance Tolliver. Other than Mike Debord, Jackson is the assistant least likely to be retained by Miles.
- As a slight, Caucasian running back, McGuffie might justifiably be a little more paranoid about getting shuffled to the bench by a coaching staff that doesn't believe in him.
I hate to say this, but McGuffie is 50-50 at best.
Michigan's candidate du jour, according to rapidly spreading internet rumor: Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz.
Here's a kitten if you need it:
- Has built Iowa from a 1-10 abomination train into a mid-level Big Ten power akin to Wisconsin. If we were having this discussion three years ago this sentence would be a lot more superlative.
- No hint of scandal.
- Generally well-respected amongst the coaching community.
- Done for the year and able to take the job ASAP.
- Is a nice man who loves his family.
- Uh... done for the year and able to take the job ASAP? Ferentz's team is 6-6 and has lost to Iowa State and Western Michigan. Since his back-to-back-to-back seasons at #8, Iowa is one game above .500.
- Aside from one year when Willingham was minding the barn at Notre Dame, Zook was busy yelling at frat boys in Florida, and a bumper crop of Chicagoland recruits were there to be harvested, Ferentz's recruiting has been meh.
- Though there has been little hint of NCAA scandal, Ferentz's team was plagued with individual malfeasance all year.
- 3-6 against Iowa State. That's like being 3-6 against Michigan State... if Michigan State was Baylor.
Should Michigan want Ferentz? Well, do Iowa fans even still want Ferentz? This poll over at Black Heart, Gold Pants puts a neat little bow on the situation:
We know you're, to put it mildly, upset; we are too. Is it the W/L record? Is it the rash of run-ins with the law? Are the worse transgressions happening on or off the field?
- Athletic performance: 19-18 record since 2005 season; 11-13 in Big Ten since 2005 season; 3-7 record in last 10 games against Iowa State; no bowl wins since 2004
42% attrition rate!
I mean, seriously, change some names and this BHGP passage could have been lifted verbatim from the comments of this blog during the Ohio State game:
We wasted the best front seven since 2004 on an offensive line which flat out refused to block anyone. We wasted the best running back tandem since Russell/Lewis on a quarterback who couldn't hit an open receiver and receivers who didn't catch the ball when he did. We wasted a tough, classy, downright professional group of seniors on a team filled with convicts and thugs and a coaching staff that was too f---ing stubborn to even attempt to fix the all-too-obvious problems.
Oh, oh, and this one:
Defenders of this coaching staff have repeatedly said, "the coaches put players in position to win, and it's the players' fault for not performing." Assuming (I think incorrectly) that this system would actually lead to success, it's the job of the coaches to prepare these players both schematically and technically. If the players are unable to perform effectively in otherwise correct schemes, the players must be more technically sound, the players must be replaced by those who can perform, or the schemes must be adjusted to account for a lack of talent/knowledge.
Do. Not. Want. Transpose Michigan's 2005 and 2006 and the programs are in an eerily parallel decline down to the cronyism, inexplicable surfeit of arrests and bootings, and hideously disappointing offenses.
Now add in the likelihood bit: Ferentz makes over three million dollars a year -- as of approximately one year ago he was the second highest paid coach in college football, though he's slipped behind Meyer and maybe a couple others since -- and has a kid who's grown up dreaming of playing for his dad at Iowa ready to sign a letter of intent in February. The salary thing might actually be even steeper: last year Ferentz raked in 4.6 million(!).
In no way does any of this make sense, and in that this seems more reminiscent of the brief Kevin Stallings panic during the basketball search -- undertaken as Beilein finished out his NIT run -- than a real threat to your (and my) sanity. While I have nothing approximating solid information in this case, Occam's Razor veritably screams "smokescreen" and I bet you a dollar we look back on this as one of the weirder rumors to wander around during the coaching search.
Parsing. Michigan Sports Center has helpfully provided a transcript of the Carr press conference. Notes of interest:
"Before I take any questions I do want to address one issue of the timing of this announcement. My timing is based on one thing: What's best for Michigan. What's best for Michigan football. There are no other motives. This announcement is made at a time when the recruiting process can be handled in a way that this program can go forward. To do it any later, to do it after a bowl game, would've been absolutely ridiculous. I did it for this program, as I've tried to make all of the decisions that I've made since I've come here. So, any of those rumors about anything else... This is much to big to be about me or somebody that's gonna coach here, and I want to make that clear."
This is obviously a direct response to the irresponsible speculation going on in the mainstream media about what the timing of Carr's announcement says about his relationship with Les Miles; Carr later pointed out the precise rationale behind the "this is for recruiting" claim:
"Rather than me go out and waste visits - a head coach only gets one visit when he goes in to a recruit's home or in to his high school - this timing will enable, when that coach is named, [him to] immediately go and visit those kids and secure those commitments. Plus, we have 7 or 8 left that we wanted. It's about holding on to a recruiting class. Because if this recruiting class falls apart, 4 years from now there's a hole in Michigan football. The only important thing here is this program. It's not about me. It'd be easier for me to wait, because I wouldn't have to be here today. It's about this recruiting [class]."
If Carr were to stay on he'd either have to waste those visits or inexplicably not take them. Carr was asked directly about Miles:
"When it gets to discussing any potential candidates, I defer to Bill Martin. This process will be developed and executed by Bill, so I'm not going to get into all of the things that are his job.
I can say that there's a lot of things happening along the recruiting trail. It's a very competitive business. Those are things that you put to rest. For some of those rumors that are out there, I'm not going to answer all of them. I'm not going to talk about candidates, because that's not my job. I do want to make it clear that I'm not here to name the coach and all of that baloney that some of you have written."
This is as close as we'll ever get to an admission from Carr that he was pissed off by some of his head-to-head battles with Miles over certain recruits, most prominently cornerback Jai Eugene, who decommitted from Michigan to attend LSU late in the year. So, yeah, Carr would probably prefer someone else, but he's also made it clear that it's not his call. Also, irresponsible speculation is again bashed. For shame. Hang thy heads low, ink-stained wretches, hang thy heads low.
Carr said two things about the program going forward: Miles is not my favorite; I won't interfere if he's the choice. Given the widespread support for Miles amongst other important players (both literally and financially), that should be a small hurdle.
Meanwhile... Bill Martin also did his share of media-talking, taking what looks like a direct shot at the man in Palo Alto:
"I want to know how many driving-under-the-influence (citations) a potential coach has had," he said. "I want to know if he's a deadbeat in terms of paying his bills. I want to know anything that is a pattern in terms of past behavior that could be an embarrassment to Michigan."
That number is "one" for Harbaugh, two less than his count in the all-important "public outbursts that accuse the program of impropriety" category. Next.
The NYT delves into this issue more specifically:
"It was very disappointing to me," Martin said of those comments. "It clearly did not reflect Michigan and I think if you were to talk to his teammates from that era, they would think the same."
When asked if that would hurt Harbaugh's candidacy, Martin said with a sarcastic laugh, "Brilliant Brilliant."
(Have we signed a secret marketing agreement with Guinness?) Not that this is news, but Michigan isn't going to hire a guy who's won three games in I-A.
Mas. Also from Martin:
Martin said he hoped to have a new coach by the end of the year.
"That would be great," Martin said.
... "I want to find a former high school history teacher," he said, "because that's what Lloyd is." Martin said he probably could find coaches who would equal Carr's winning percentage of .752. "But will they represent the university in all the ways Lloyd has?" Martin said. "That is going to be tough." ...
"After an emotional loss, what do they say? How do they look?" Martin said. "Those are the important things." ...
"It's far more than just winning on Saturday," he said. "These positions aren't jobs. They are a way of life."
The "coach by the end of the year" thing is mildly alarming. More later. Now, bitchy copyediting snark opp:
He said he would consider paying the next coach $2-3 million a year, commiserate with the top salaries in the game.
And one last article highlights an area certain rumored candidates are deficient in:
Head coaching experience: "You've got to have experience to come here. This is the winningest college football program in history. Lloyd has pushed that percentage rate up. To me that's the benchmark. This is not time to experiment (with coaches). This has to be a very careful, considered process."
This would eliminate Mike Trgovac, not that he seemed a serious candidate to begin with.
Back to the now. The idea that Michigan will press Miles for a departure soon after the SEC Championship Game is beginning to take hold in certain places, including some insider mutterings (insider mutterings that, I would like to make clear, in no way constitute anything remotely solid) that are beginning to make their way across the internets.
Miles' most recent press conference, the one in which he steadfastly refused to answer questions about his coaching future, had an interesting interlude related to this:
"It's unfair to Michigan to say that they should. It's unfair to me and my team. I promise you this, what I'm doing is what you should do â€” let it rest. I'm playing football for LSU. I love this team."
Miles teared up and paused for 15 seconds before composing himself. "And I'll not do anything to hurt it," he said as his voice broke. "Any questions?"
Miles finds himself in a difficult position. The job he's always coveted has come open for the first time in 40 years; this is his only opportunity to ever
be head coach at Michigan. Remarkably, he is kinda sorta busy leading his current team to a potential national title.
I don't like the idea of Michigan pressing Miles to leave LSU while the national title remains in play. If the Tigers lose before bowl season, sure, pick him off and move on, but a national title is too rare an opportunity to trifle with. Miles is clearly broken up about potentially screwing this up for his players and LSU in general; if we're serious about maintaining the integrity Martin lauds as a key component of the Carr era and the program going forward we should acquire Miles in a fashion that does the least damage possible to our new coach's current set of kids. Get a commitment from him, then let him finish the year.
Besides, hiring the coach of the reigning national champions would be a PR coup that would offset whatever disadvantages there are to hiring a coach January 8th instead of in mid-December. There's a two-week recruiting dead period at the end of the year, so the functional difference there is two or three weeks at most. Michigan should wait it out.
"To give you an analogy: You always know you're going to die one day,'' punter Zoltan Mesko said. "But it's a different feeling when that day is actually here.''
Haven't you self-scouted, son? Oh, Notre Dame fans, you are so deeply hilarious at all times:
After 13 years in Ann Arbor, Llloyd Carr is withdrawing early and running like hell.
Lots of talk will circulate, as it already has, about Les Miles taking Llloyd's place, but frankly we at HLS can't imagine why anyone would want to take this job, in the middle of such a nightmare scenario. As Llloyd Carr has proven over the course of 13 years, you can't do much more than kinda, sorta win half a national title and a few conference titles in an extremely mediocre conference.
Indeed. Michigan in the Carr era: 121-40, one national championship, two BCS bowl wins, five conference titles, five bowl wins, no losing seasons. Notre Dame over that same span of time: 94-62, no national championships, no bowl wins, four losing seasons. Michigan's "nightmare scenario" -- 8-4 -- is better than Notre Dame has done 6 of the past 11 years.
Also hilarious. College Football News has fallen off the radar around these parts recently, but it used to be a regular target of derision for a simple reason: it regularly publishes the dumbest stuff you can think of about college football. Pete Fiutak on the Michigan job search:
For all you LSU fans worrying about the distractions with the Michigan head coaching job opening up, let me help you sleep well tonight.
Les Miles absolutely, positively will NOT be the next head football coach at the University of Michigan.
Wow, he must have some super secret inside sources and a really good reason for saying this...
We're talking about IBM here. We're talking about North Carolina basketball. We're talking about a football program that's the equivalent of a dish of vanilla ice cream topped off with a vanilla wafer while being cheered on by 111,941 fans about as boisterous as a glass of warm milk. Miles would be a double dose of rainbow sprinkles, and that's not Michigan football.
...or he could just be making stuff up so he can deploy his awesome rainbow sprinkles analogy. This isn't nearly as bad as Matt Zemek's column/novella on the Georgia-Florida game, which I believe to be the worst single item ever written about sports, (it's apparently disappeared from CFN, or at least the link has changed, so the previous is a message board C&P) but it's pretty mindbogglingly stupid.
(HT: The Diag.)
Argh, stupid. The All Big Ten teams are fairly remarkable. Would you believe Chad Henne is the coaches' pick for All Big Ten? O rly? Ya rly. The media went with Boeckman; Kellen Lewis was second-team to both. I'm not about to comb through old All Big Ten teams, but this has to be the first time the teams have different first-team QBs who don't appear on the other team even in second place.
Also, this is a yearly complaint but whatever: the defensive teams are so frustrating. The media's first team All Big Ten defense has four defensive ends, three middle linebackers, and four cornerbacks. The coaches managed to get Iowa DT Mitch King on the first team but succumb to all corners and all MLBs, too. I could maybe see the argument that all linebackers are basically the same and the really good ones tend to get shoved into the all-important middle linebacker spot, but DEs != DTs and CBs != safeties. In the bowl interregnum I'll put together a second annual MGoBlog All Big Ten, and it will acknowledge the existence of, you know, reality.