I've now done three (one, two, three) CC candidate roundups. In each, I profiled 4 legitimate and 1 not-so-legitimate candidates. Now I rank the 12 legitimate ones according to how desirable a candidate they are, but with close calls determined by plausibility. (As you'll notice, some candidates are more plausible than others.) In other words, if I were Hackett, I'd just go down this list--maybe skipping the pipe dreams, but more likely just putting out feelers and politely backing off if the answer is "thanks but no thanks."
So what makes an ideal coaching candidate for Michigan in 2015? The demonstrated ability to coach + the demonstrated ability to win QUICKLY with a roster like ours + the likely ability to manage the uniquenesses of a "blue blood" program and its vested interests. That last bit really shouldn't matter as much as it does, but it undoubtedly does. And not just at Michigan: at Notre Dame, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Alabama, USC and Tenessee too. Programs that feel the weight of history require coaches who can not only win but simultaneously embody and transcend tradition. Bo would be a perfect example, but there are others from more recent history, coaches who took the reins of once mighty "blue bloods" fallen on hard times and brought them back to glory. Bob Stoops, Pete Carroll, etc.
The Michigan job is further complicated by the fact that, like Notre Dame, we pride ourselves on academics and high integrity. Ideally we do not want to cut corners in our push (back) to the top. This is admirable, but it does make the job of finding the right person harder, as some of the best coaches out there are inveterate corner cutters. A Bob Stoops still makes the cut, but Pete Carroll? Not sure.
But enough about all that. Here's my ranked list of previously profiled CC candidates:
1. Jim Harbaugh
CASE: Harbaugh is the best available coach (to the unknowable degree that he is available) and the candidate who best “gets” what makes Michigan unique and special. Also shares Schlissel’s views on the academics/athletics balance.
LIKELIHOOD HE COMES IF OFFERED: 40%. It’s possible, maybe even more than possible, but he’s also going to have NFL options, and coaches with NFL options don’t often switch to college.
2. Gary Patterson
CASE: The best not available coach who's name nevertheless keeps coming up in every CC discussion at every major school. Patterson's long-term success at TCU speaks for itself—there’s a reason, after all, why his name keeps coming up. Unfortunately, it may not be worth the bandwidth to email an offer, because he’s not coming.
LIKELIHOOD HE COMES IF OFFERED: 1%. Anything's possible, but some things are so implausible that they might as well not be. In other words, he’s not coming.
3. John Harbaugh
CASE: Like little brother Jim, but less abrasive. Has won Super Bowl and grew up in Ann Arbor. Good NFL coaches (hell, even pretty good NFL coaches) tend to do well in college.
LIKELIHOOD HE COMES IF OFFERED: 10%. A neat idea, but hard to see “John Harbaugh, Michigan Football Coach” becoming reality. After all, unlike little brother Jim, he’s not being pushed out of his NFL gig for clash-of-personality reasons.
4. Les Miles
CASE: Big-time winner at LSU, and clearly a very good football coach. Former letterman and assistant coach under Bo too. Also the guy we maybe should have hired in 2007. However, is on the old side now and hiring Miles might exacerbate rather than heal our factional wounds.
LIKELIHOOD HE COMES IF OFFERED: 99%. He’s been non-obliquely hinting at it lately, and straight up told John U. Bacon in Three and Out that he was ready in 2007. If we want him, he’s coming.
5. Bret Bielema
CASE: Like most people, I thought this was crazytalk the first time I encountered it. But the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. Would be able to take this roster and make it competitive right away. And as has been said, Bielema wins with a brand of football that roughly corresponds to what Hoke and Brandon wanted to re-establish but couldn't. On the other hand, his teams at Wisconsin were mostly of the “almost-but-not-quite-great” variety. That sounds pretty good from where we are right now, but could wear thin after some time.
LIKELIHOOD THAT HE’D COME IF OFFERED: 33%. There is a solid speculative case for why he’d be interested, but it’s airy speculation (i.e. there are no sources or rumors, just logic). Astronomical buyout might render this dead in the water.
6. Dan Mullen
CASE: Has won more games at Mississippi State than previously thought possible. Is also a disciple of Urban Meyer, who wins a lot of games for our rival school. That said, he hasn’t really won that much at Mississippi State, (it took Mullen 6 years to reach 10 wins), and may favor recruiting practices we'd prefer to avoid.
LIKELIHOOD THAT HE’D COME IF OFFERED: 33%. He’s got to realize that his stock will never be higher, and at the least, should use that to renegotiate his current contract. But may be comfortable where he is, or at least in the SEC. You'd think Florida was a sure thing, but apparently it's not. May wait to see if the LSU job opens.
7. Todd Graham
CASE: Wins a lot. Runs modern offense, but is a defensive guy. Modern offense plus good defense = WANT. At the same time, “cultural fit” might be an issue here (or not). Also, Graham is pretty mercenary in his approach to jobs, and would easily bolt after one year if he felt it was in his interests to do so.
LIKELIHOOD THAT HE’D COME IF OFFERED: 20%. He’s a good coach and would probably be interested in any gig that pays more/has a bigger spotlight, but Graham-to-Michigan doesn’t seem like an intuitive match for either party--especially after his old boss' bad experience here.
8. Jim McElwain
CASE: Like Nussmeier but with experience/success as a head coach. Like Bielema, could plausibly take what we have and make it work. But also not a thrilling (potential) hire.
LIKELIHOOD THAT HE’D COME IF OFFERED:
50% 20%. McElwain will have options, but Michigan (and the salary we could pay) would be at or near the top something he'd look at. Would we offer? Depends on that $7.5m buyout. Also rumored to be a he appears to be the top Florida target.
9. Tom Herman
CASE: Really good OC at Ohio State. Urban Meyer coaching tree. Can recruit Ohio! However, lack of experience as HC means on-the-job learning, and we’re probably not in the mood for more of that.
LIKELIHOOD THAT HE’D COME IF OFFERED: 80%. I’d put it higher, but there’s always the chance he wouldn’t want to face his mentor every year in THE rivalry game. Or maybe that’s not an issue? In any event, I see him moving to a Tulsa or Cincinnati before making the big jump. But of all the coordinator-level candidates, Herman is the one I have the most faith in.
10. Paul Chryst
CASE: A low-transition-cost, ultra-safe idea. Who knows--could be a Dantonio-type? May, however, be another Hoke.
LIKELIHOOD THAT HE’D COME IF OFFERED: 99%. Can’t see him saying no. We’re pretty far down the list if we’re offering, though.
11. Bob Stitt
CASE: A true innovator on offense. Long-term success at FCS level. But lack of even mid-major experience likely a dealbreaker
LIKELIHOOD THAT HE’D COME IF OFFERED: 99%. Can’t see him saying no, but he's not a serious candidate for HC. Now, if we're talking OC, then we're really talking. Yes please!
12. Greg Schiano
CASE: We prefer not to win or sell season tickets.
LIKELIHOOD THAT HE’D COME IF OFFERED: 99%. Welcome to my nightmare.
SIX GAMES IN
I thought it might be a nice time to stop and look at a few basketball statistics now that we are starting to get into the season in earnest. Granted, these are non-conference games and what we will be able to get out of some of the numbers right now might be limited, but it seemed like six games was a decent enough checkpoint in the season.
One of the things which gets floated around from time to time here is the extremely good record of John Beilein once the points per possession number gets about about 1.10 or so. It is interesting then, that it has only been below that once, and that game was the very close loss to Villanova. Indeed, right now the average PPP number for Michigan is 1.22. One that I personally like as an efficiency measure is assist / turnover ratio – the season average to date is 1.95 and the only time it has been below 1.00 is also the loss to Villanova.
The comprehensive table of current averages on various stats is below:
One thing that is striking to me is that, so far anyway, these numbers aren’t terribly different than many of last season’s averages. For example, last season’s eFG% overall average was 55.95% and right now it is 55.18%. The offensive rebounding percentage last season averaged 28.74%, and so far this year, it is 29.53% - a slight increase. Of course, this is not a true comparison in that you have different personnel responsible for these performances, but it seems to speak to the maturity of Beilein’s philosophy as practiced here.
There are also the Four Factors to consider. Here is what those look like after six games - naturally, we are in blue and the opponent's corresponding statistic is red:
I don’t know that you can draw many strong conclusions, but the differences between the Villanova performance and the other five games are apparent. The one that I found amusing – and something that I didn’t think much about while watching the game – is the freakishly high FTR against Oregon. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen 63.04% there, but 29 FT attempts against only 46 FGs attempted is pretty amazing as a single-game stat, I think.
Anyway, here’s how it looks so far.
The B1G-ACC challenge kicked off tonight with two road games for the B1G.
The first game was between conference cellar-dwellars Rutgers and Clemson. Rutgers managed to pull off the somewhat surprising 69-64 win at Clemson. That's all that needs to be said about this game.
The next matchup was between the Bo Pelini-less Nebraska Cornhuskers and Jameis Winston lead Florida State Seminoles. The 'Noles tried to pull their best FSU football team impression with a huge second half comeback as they managed to trim a once 18 point Nebraska lead to one point with less than 3 to go. But Nebraska was able to pull out the road win, led by the always inefficient Terran Petteway who scored 25 points on 8-22 shooting.
This was a nice start for the B1G, winning two key swing games that aren't going to garner a lot of headlines. 8 wins clinches the win for either conference, so the B1G only needs 6 to go with the headline games coming tomorrow night and Wednesday.
Michigan moved up a couple of spots in the polls to #17 in the AP and #16 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, despite the loss to Villanova.
Notables from the AP Poll: Wisconsin #2, Ohio State #14, Michigan State #19, Maryland #21 Illinois #24.
Hi people. I'd thought we'd take a moment out of our #HokeDeadManClapping and #HarbaughOrDie programming to talk about our highly successful basketball team and a pretty nice basketball matchup in less than 36 hrs. I apologize in advance for the interruption of your F5ing.
Syracuse comes in unranked after starting top 25 and is not at elite levels seen in recent levels - but that probably applies to UM as well. Both are quite young teams. Their 5-1 record includes 4 tomato cans, a 14 point loss to 5-1 Cal (who lost 71-55 to a surging Texas team), and a win by 3 over Iowa. The latter is significant as Iowa is going to be one of those teams that could finish anywhere from 2nd to 8th in what looks to be an extremely congested Big 10 filled with teams of similar power. Iowa is 5-2 but the other loss is to that same Texas team - by 14. Transitive that as you wish.
Matchups - as always with Michigan this year, the eye first darts to the opposing big men to see what sort of issues with rebounding and defense we might face. Syraucse plays a 9 man-ish rotation with a heavy emphasis on the top 7 so we'll focus on the starting 5 and then 1 backup forward who gets a ton of minutes. To that end, Syracuse poses some difficulties in matchups due to size (we'll be saying that a lot this year). Their top 2 players - SR Rakeem Christmas and FR Chris McCullough (5 star, #19 recruit in the nation) have some serious length at 6'10 and 6'9 respectively. Christmas is 250 and McCullough 220. McCullough was the leading scorer vs Iowa with 20 pts so the "rough and tumble" Big 10 style is no skin off this freshman's nose. He is being viewed already as a 1 and done lottery pick.
The theme of length continues as the starting backcourt of JR Trevor Cooney and FR Kaleb Joseph are 6-4 and 6-3. SO Tyler Robinson is the 5th starter and a genuine F at 6'8, 212. So to review the starting frontcourt is 6'10, 6'9, 6'8 with a backcourt of 6'4 and 6'3.
Coming off the bench and getting major minutes as a forward is JR Michael Gbinije and he checks in at 6'7. The starting guards play the bulk of the minutes of Cuse - 33 minutes each, so we'll just focus on their games. Obviously the injury to Walton is a big wildcard in the matchups
- JR Cooney averages 10.2 PPG on a ho hum 40% FG shooting - consistent with last year's numbers. 3 pt shooting is bad at 27% but last year he did make 37.5% so has potential - just not been shooting great from behind the 3 this year. He does jack up over 5 a game. His supporting stats show nothing that stands out - about 2 rebounds per game and 2 assists. 1.5 steals a game which is Caris LeVert territory and a far cry from the bevy of steals a host of Nova players wielded. Cooney is a very average SG; he'll take a lot of shots and miss many.
- FR Joseph is a youngin, top 50 recruit who is getting his feet wet in a Walton Jr 2013 type of way. Teams with true freshmen PGs usually struggle some early. Very thin at 165 lbs, this is a guy a healthy Walton Jr should overpower on offense when he wants to drive - if its Spike, not so much. Joseph is a very nice shooter at 45.5% from the field but his range is limited. He has taken four 3 pointers all year and missed them all. He averages 8.5 PPG. He is more of a traditional point guard, with a fantastic 5.8 assists a game (Walton is at 3 for comparison), and rebounds well at just under 4 a game. He is a bit sloppy with the ball, with 3.5 turnovers a game.
- SR Rakeem Christmas is the star here but McCullough is right behind. Christmas has made a quantum leap in his game from even a year ago - much like a Frank Kaminsky did. He averages 17.5 PPG vs last year's 5.8. FG% 56% which is solid for a big man. He gets to the line 7 times a game and shoots a decent 70% there. He is foul prone averaging 4 a game. He rebounds a hefty 9 rebounds a game and averages 2.3 blocks a game. At 250 lbs, this looks like another matchup for our young and already invaluable Ricky Doyle. We have 15 fouls to give with our 3 headed monster at center but in terms of physicality minutes when Doyle is on the bench will be testy.
- Super FR McCullough is an old school forward and was ranked about 10 spots ahead of Kam Chatman. The lanky forward's game game is entirely within the 3 pt line, and he is very effective at 58%. Averaging 15.3 PPG he is probably going to be playing for a bad NBA team in 12 months. He gets the line a lot, drawing 6 FTs a game - and is a stupendous rebounder for a young man at 8.5 a game. He has hops as well with 2.5 blocks a game. He stays out of foul trouble with only 2.5 a game. There is not a comparable player I can think of on the UM roster the past half decade as Beilein tends to get stretchy forward types with more of an inside out game. This is a super athletic 15 feet and in type of forward. Like GR3 as a frosh he plays monster minutes at 33 per game. Basically he is what we dream DJ Wilson to be as a senior Very tough matchup for Kam.
- SO Tyler Roberson is a ho hum scoring threat as the third forward. Only shoots 37% and takes 8 shots a game. We want him shooting a lot because it means Christmas McCullough or Jospeh are not. He plays about half the game but still averages 6.5 due to sheer volume of shots. Solid rebounder at 5.0 per game and thats the extent of what he does. He is 6'8 as mentioned above - I expect him to be busy chasing Irvin around much of the night. (Please note - he seems to have an injury bug and might be limited)
- Sub JR Gbinije is the last guy we'll focus on. 6'7 220 he brings good size but challenged offense. Playing 25 minutes a night his 34% shooting is down from last year's 38%. He does take three 3 pointers a game and is hitting them at an astounding 12% clip. Last year he was better at 35%. Modest rebounder at 3.4 he does seem to be a good defender with 2.0 steals a game which for a big man is pretty outstanding.
So that's Cuse in a nutshell. They have 4 guys to really focus on - the starting guards and the twin towers of Christmas and McCullough. 2 of those guys are freshmen but 1 of those is a very special player. They are not going to 3 pt you to death which is a plus. UM has far better outside shooters. Not a super deep team, so if Caris Irvin and Walton* can get drives to the basket and get fouls drawn Syracuse could have issues. Obviously their defense is the program's calling card so we'll see how quickly the freshman have picked it up tomorrow night.
Doyle playing 23-25 minutes and staying out of foul trouble will be important and Kam vs McCullough is a matchup of two of the top 30 recruits in the nation; maybe Kam has a coming out party facing someone he has seen on the camp circuit a lot. Christmas in any sort of foul trouble would be great as would the return of Walton. UM rebounded pretty darn well v Nova all things considered but did not play Beilein ball well in terms of protecting the basketball (turnover situation sucked) - but Nova plays pretty suffocating pressure D. If we can continue to not get obliterated in terms of giving up tons of offensive rebounds vs Cuse it would be a very good thing. This feels a lot like TN v UM from last year's tourney in terms of matchups.