to play football, not to play trumpet
ON HAVING THINGS. I don't have anything. Nobody has much. This appears to be because the Schlissel quote about how the AD search would get underway in a couple weeks was accurate, and of course the coaching search consists of "we still have a coach" and "HARBAUGH."
Have heard that Harbaugh is very interested, no foolies. Again. But you know how much that means.
ON THINGS SAID BY SAM WEBB ON THE RADIO. There have been a number of threads about what Sam's saying that are a bit panicked. This is seemingly because the panicky people tend to be the ones running to post the threads about the slight possibility something seemingly bad might happen.
I have not gotten any vibes to get panicked about from him. I've actually urged him to be more explicit about his thoughts, and Sam says "THAT'S WHAT I'M DOING!" and kind of vibrates in frustration. So. Either the situation has changed from what some were panicking about or these threads are wildly inaccurate, because we just had our WTKA roundtable and Sam asserted that:
- Hoke has no chance unless he wins out.
- Even that is no guarantee.
- Hackett is likely to be around for the coaching search in the event Michigan does, say, get beat by 20 by OSU.
If you don't like #3, okay. But at this point the chance that there's a chance Hoke returns is slim indeed. And given the timing here if your top priority is a new coach that's fine. Hackett can make a reasonable decision and then go search.
I guess I have to talk about this pipedream
ON STOOOOOOOOPS. Fresh off an emasculating blowout at the hands of Baylor comes Bob Stoops, who's an indisputably really good coach in a weird Lloyd Carr holding pattern: he wins, a lot. He frustrates his own fans more than he probably should. Carr let teams hang around and reaped the occasional whirlwind; Stoops gets blown out a shocking amount for a guy who wins 11 games a year.
Still, you're probably all like "Bob Stoops? The persistent ND fever dream? Why not just bring up ESPN goblin John Gruden?"
Hey, I'm with you. But Dan Wetzel's urging it:
The odds of San Francisco 49ers coach, and Michigan alum, Jim Harbaugh returning to college look longer each week. The perception around the NFL is that if he's let go by San Francisco, a shot with another franchise (New York Jets? Oakland? Miami? A new L.A. team?), featuring more control and money, seems far more likely.
If so, Michigan should try to convince Bob Stoops not just how he'd be great for Michigan, but how Michigan would be great for him.
There is nothing in this article resembling concrete information; it's just a "hey, do this" thing. Okay, I guess, we would look into doing that before heading down the list but a move like that is just about unprecedented in the last 20 years of college football. Oh, and Stoops just signed a contract that pushes him to around $5 million annually. Michigan would have to match that and pay a hefty buyout just for starters. Doesn't seem at all likely.
There is a little bit more substance to Travis Haney's ESPN piece:
“I think it’s very real,” one coach said when I asked him generally about OU's staleness. “Fans get spoiled. A lot of coaches move on to keep it new, keep energy high. Look at Urban [Meyer].”
Maybe it was just a contract leverage play, which worked, but I believed some coaches when they told me Stoops had genuine interest last winter in the Cleveland Browns job.
“I think he’s looking for other options,” a coach said Saturday.
Stoops is 54, FWIW. I got dollars to donuts less than nothing comes of this chatter.
ON PATTING PEOPLE ON THE HEAD AND SAYING "THAT'S NICE." Mike Shanahan could be convinced to take the Michigan or Florida jobs. Mike Shanahan, who is 62 and has not been in college since 1983. Thank you for your interest, Mike Shanahan.
But he's a young 62!
Shut up, bolded alter ego.
ON ROTE NON-DENIAL DENIALS. Brad Bates was asked the inevitable question and said this:
“It really doesn’t distract me at all,” Bates said “I love it here at Boston College, my values align with the institutional mission and we’ve really enjoyed living in New England, one of the greatest cities in the world. It hasn’t been a distraction at all.”
When asked if he knows if UM has been contacting candidates or has even contacted him, he elected not to directly comment.
“There’s no value of me commenting on other institutions and their processes,” Bates said. “I love it here at Boston College, my values align with this institution and I hope to be here a long time.”
"…unless I am offered the Michigan AD job, whereupon I will leave so quickly my clothes will hang in the air for a comical moment before collapsing in an empty heap."
The Detroit News headlines this "plans to stay as Boston College AD," which is not at all what that passage says unless you are unfamiliar with rote non-denial denials. Also in this vein:
Sources: UConn AD Warde Manuel has no plans to go anywhere. // He's been on a list of potential candidates for the Michigan AD job.
— Mark J. Burns (@markjburns88) November 7, 2014
Burns is a former Daily guy so he's probably got a good connect. But, as always, sources say things they don't 100% know or mean. I've heard he'd also leave an empty pile of laundry if offered the job.
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.
ALL RIGHT, PEOPLE. We are probably embarking on a coaching search in the near future and also probably embarking on an AD search in the near future. When these things happen I get buckets of insider information from provenances both dubious and legit, and at some point they cross the threshold where I think they're useful to relate.
When I do this I want things to be supported by multiple people, or people I've heard from before and were accurate. I've learned over the years that when you get in these situations a lot of people stridently believe things that turn out to be wrong, so keep that in mind; I strive to be precise with my language to give people the right impression of how strongly these opinions are held.
ON JIM HARBAUGH. There are plenty of media reports suggesting that Harbaugh won't be with the 49ers next year; I've heard similar things. I've also heard that people within the 49ers organization think that maybe Harbaugh isn't an NFL guy, long term, and that Harbaugh is also coming to this realization as the guys in his locker room start getting more and more ornery. Michigan is not a far-fetched destination according to them.
ON DAVE BRANDON. I mentioned this on twitter and should clarify. There is the Big Ballers Meeting and then a Meeting With A Lot Of Big Ballers And Some Smaller Ballers And Some People Who Do Nice Stuff For The University. I got a report from the latter, in which Schlissel sat down for a Q&A session that was moderated by Stephen Ross. Nothing said was definitive, but almost all of the side chatter centered on how Brandon wasn't going to make it and Ross didn't seem like he was going to throw a hissy fit if a change was made. Even in this context away from the madding crowd the first issue addressed was the AD; Schlissel reiterated his point about a culture change; there seemed to be big baller chatter about who might be next.
Now: these people are not universally omniscient. There was chatter that things might go down last Tuesday. Obviously they did not. Don't take that as gospel.
ON THE COMBINATION OF HARBAUGH AND BRANDON. Never say never but I've heard from guys who know Harbaugh who say that Jim working for Dave is highly unlikely to happen. I do not have signed affidavits, but… yeah. As chatter goes this drumbeat is intense.
ON HOKE SURVIVING. This is likely to become moot this weekend, but serious people are asserting that he's not dead yet and could get by with a 7-5 record that includes a win over MSU or OSU, or even that 6-6 might be enough.
I don't think this is the case, as the powers that be know that season tickets are on a knife edge now and bringing Hoke back could see significant drops. It's impossible to know anything about Hoke's status given the uncertainty about the top of the department; the information being discussed is going to point strongly to a change no matter who is in charge.
ON AD CANDIDATES. Amongst the obvious Michigan Man candidates I would peg the pecking order as
- Jeff Long (Arkansas)
- Brad Bates (BC)
- Warde Manuel (UConn)
- Joe Parker (Texas Tech's associate AD)
There's a bigger gap between 2 and 3 than between 1 and 2 or 3 and 4. Michigan may go off the board, of course, but Long in particular seems to have the respect of the AD community—he's the CoFoPoff chair—and made a stunning hire of Bret Bielema after the Petrino situation blew up in his face.
Also worth noting that he handled the PR of that disaster as well as can be expected. Bates and Manuel have not had to face similar crises yet.
ON JABRILL PEPPERS. This is not certain otherwise Michigan would have announced it but I've gotten several seemingly independent sources asserting that Peppers isn't going to play again this year. Michigan just threw him on top of the depth chart at nickel and punt return, so I don't know… I just wouldn't be surprised if he didn't play this weekend.
ON LLOYD CARR. Lloyd Carr is a civilian. He is neither involved nor wants to be involved in the day-to-day of the athletic department, and if you have a conspiracy theory involving him it is ridiculous and you should just drop it.
The sexiest guy with Shrek ears on the planet.
In recent weeks we've seen two mainstream mediapersons state that Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano either had accepted or was incredibly close to accepting the Michigan job. Michael Rosenberg:
On the night of Dec. 6 - several days after the Les Miles fiasco - Martin told several people he had hired a coach. He thought he had landed Rutgers coach Greg Schiano. But the next day, Schiano turned down the Michigan job, sending Martin scurrying for another plan.
And Stewart Mandel:
And a well-informed source told me after the fact that Schiano got serious cold feet after turning down the Wolverines and tried unsuccessfully at the 11th hour to get himself back in the running.
Are these things true? If there's one thing following the coaching search taught me, it's that everything lives in some sort of limbo, neither true nor false. But we can take these as two sources. I have two more, both of which sort of agree with the mainstream sources above.
The first ended up in my inbox at 11:30 on December 6th; the source was someone in a position to know:
... got a call tonight from a person who has a friend who is a Grad Assistant for Rutgers football and he's saying that Schiano is a done deal to go to Michigan to the point where they are actually going to have an interim coach at Rutgers for the bowl game.
I was out until late and didn't check my email before going to bed; when I awoke the next morning Schiano had publicly rejected the job. The same emailer followed up, saying Schiano had done a last-second 180 after talking to his players.
It was at this point the search careened wildly, with the internet (and myself) seizing upon any vaguely viable or terrifyingly DOA candidate: Jim Grobe. Brady Hoke. Mork and/or Mindy. Eventually opportunity met something that could just barely find its ass with both hands and the Michigan-Rodriguez union was consummated in Toledo, with Elvis presiding. A couple days later I got this email:
Michigan re-offered Schiano on Saturday and he stayed up until 2am with the OC (maybe more-family?) debating on whether to take the job. When he called Michigan on Sunday morning to turn it down, they then offered Rodriguez.
I can't vouch for the emailer, but the path from Schiano to yrs truly was short and left very little room for reinterpretation.
So. Everyone on the planet thinks Schiano got a real offer from Michigan and had actually accepted it before making a last-second 180. Mainstream news accounts even have this version of events. I think this is incontrovertible. For a brief period from about 11 PM December 6th to 11 AM December 7th, Greg Schiano was Michigan's coach. Then he backed out.
I think there's plenty of evidence suggesting that the two parties tried once again to come to an agreement but failed. Mandel says that was Michigan's decision; my emailer says it was Schiano's. I know the asserted provenance of the emailer's rumor, and think there would be very little reason to dissemble in the aftermath of hiring someone else, so I lean towards Michigan making a second run and Schiano having to say no again. FWIW.
Does this matter? If you're a Michigan fan, not much. But if you're a Penn State fan scouring the nation for potential JoePa replacements I think it signals that Schiano is going to be a tough pull. He's getting a huge investment in facilities at Rutgers and is just now ramping up his recruiting. With Rodriguez out of the Big East the only thing standing in the way of Rutgers dominion is Brian Kelly at Cincinnati and maybe the Wannstache's inexplicable recruiting prowess. And he's now turned down serious Miami and Michigan offers in consecutive years. I don't know how much credence to lend the PSU internet's "Schiano dreams of State College" article of faith.
IMO, Schiano is going to be piloting a program not far removed from PSU's by the end of this year or next or whenever Paterno finally calls it quits, but he'll be doing it in a conference without 800-pound gorillas. He'll have to think long and hard about whether he should go.