this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
How Close Was Greg Schiano To The Michigan Job?
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.
I (and a few others) disagree(d) with Brian about the attractiveness and effectiveness of a Grobe hire. I would have been quite happy with Jim Grobe as our coach, as he is one of the best overachievers in the nation the last 3-4 years (for that matter, so is RichRod).
Grobe would have been an upgrade from Lloyd, so I was not as close to slitting my wrists as Brian was over this possibility. But for the record, RichRod >>>>>> Grobe.
ninja, spot on. although we have no factual evidence that richrod is a better coach for us than Schiano at this point, I feel pretty confident in richrod. I mean, Schiano, ANYONE can win in the Big East, errrr. But seriously, although it is premature to make a judgement call on this, I would much rather have richrod at the helm than Schiano.
as for grobe, hoke, blaha blah blah, I can't say any of them really scared only because i had faith that Martin wouldn't hire such a jerkoff. on the outset of things it may seem as if Martin is the man in control in the AD, but inside, it's a bit of a different story. yeah, a lot michigan fans have criticized martin but many of people in the michigan program strongly doubted Martin being a success, and some still do. there's no way he'd still be the AD if he made that hire.
IMO, Schiano's the type where he's not going to play Michigan to leverage his current situation.
In the end, the situation probably worked out well for both sides. Michigan got their man in Rich Rodriguez. I didn't think Schiano was a particularly good fit at Michigan, nor do I think that there's much a chance that he will go to Penn State, despite the baseless speculation of Mandel and PSU fans.
It's interesting though that you chose this date to write about this story, given that some continuing fundraising issues for the Rutgers Stadium expansion have just popped up.
gsimmons, you and I were big fans of Grobe, but I have to wonder if Grobe is going to be offered a job anywhere from now on. He's getting a little long in the tooth, and I have to imagine his window of opportunity is closing fast. If you're a program aspiring to Top 25 or greater heights with a coach that will be gonzo in the next year or so (e.g. Arizona), why would you voluntarily bring someone on that will most likely retire within the next 7-10 years?
I think it's more likely that he'll just continue to stay at or near the top of the ACC every year. I doubt he's going anywhere, given his age.
When was the last time Michigan finished with:
1. A bowl win, and;
2. Two or fewer losses?
I believe 1999(!) is the answer. The requirement that Michigan win the bowl game may seem like an arbitrary way to throw out 2006, but in order for a 2 loss season to be considered a "success" that generates "momentum" yada yada, it does need to end on a high note, IMO.
Michigan has been a perennial 4 loss program for far too long, and I look forward to seeing this sleeping giant awaken. 10-2 should be the average, not the outlier.
Since Bo took over, how many times has UM finished with 2 or fewer losses and a bowl win?
Answer: 5: 1999, 1997, 1993 (3 ties), 1988 (2 losses+1 tie), 1985. That's 40 years of football and 5 "successful" seasons.
I hope, as you do, that we go 10-2 on average, but the facts are the facts. We've never been a 10-2 team (or 9-2, or 10-1 or whatever...since 1977 we average 9-3 independent of the coach), we've never won bowl games (losing record under Bo), we've never beat the best teams with regularity (losing record vs. .750 teams under Bo, Mo, and LC) and we've never consistently competed for national titles (another quiz--how many undefeated/untied Septembers did we have in the 20 years before Carr arrived? 5 (the same number we had in the 13 years after he arrived).
So, when you say we are a sleeping giant, just know that we've been sleeping for a very long time. I would go so far as to say that Michigan's status as a "giant" is entirely the result of consistent 9-3 seasons as opposed to occasional spectacular performance (on this, see Miami: NC, probation, NC, destruction).
Do I hope Rich makes us consistently spectacular? Absolutely. But a USC-style run wouldn't be a return to the glory of the Bo years, it would be uncharted territory for Michigan football.
but I obviously should have. I guess I've always felt the Bo years were the proper ideal/norm for Michigan, with 10+ wins and conference championships, but you rightly point out that Bo couldn't win the Rose Bowl to save his fucking life.
I'm just tired of the 3-4 loss seasons that were the inevitable results of Mo and Lloyd and feel that Michigan is naturally a 10-2 program. But as you point out, the fact of the matter is that an average of 10-2 is, historically speaking, an unrealistic expectation and is uncharted territory for U-M.
+10 to you for keeping it real.
Unfortunately, I spent plenty of new year's days in the late 1970s and early 1980s the same way I spent them in 2004, 2005, and 2007. We were indeed a Big 10 powerhouse in the early 1970s, but not really a national force.
It will be cool to see RR try to take us to new heights (actually, it will only be cool to see us reach those heights, but it will be fun to watch the new Michigan no matter what).
Mike, I recognized that myself, but I suspect that the recruits are being "told" that to ease their minds. And by told, I don't mean being lied to, but done in such a way as for the recruits to conclude that it will [likely] be an internal hire. And over time, situations change (hey, kind of like what losing to App. State does) and then all bets are off.
I do not at all discount that PSU will pursue Shiano when JoPa retires.
The stern, jawsetted look of Grobe, combined with his less-than-ideal age made some people think Grobe = Lloyd-5yrs. Brian was guilty of this, IMO.
Brian and others couldn't look past his "look" and grasp the fact that Wake Forest is Wake fucking FOREST!, and thus any success there was a sign of a good coach. The consistent success that Grobe has brought to Wake Forest is IMO a sign that he is a great coach. Sadly, we'll probably never know for sure how good Grobe is, because Wake Forest is still Wake fucking FOREST! and he'll never have enough talent to get over the hump and become a powerhouse.
I was down on Grobe for a lot of reasons:
- Age. At 56 he's probably winding down in terms of energy level and your upside is limited.
- Recruiting ability. I don't have much evidence for or against him, but again: age, and he's never brought in anyone notable at Wake. It's Wake, sure, but that was a major uncertainty.
- His ACC championship year was pretty overrated. Play that season again and they're probably 7-5 or something.
Those are good points, and all are reasons why RR is a much better pick. The age thing was disconcerting.
As far as the ACC title season goes, I get that the team was pretty lucky that year. But they came back again and had a solid season, and to me Wake Forest is anything but a major university in terms of football. There's no reason they should be good at football. None. And he made them competitive, so that's an accomplishment. I expected Wake to be good around the same time Duke was good.
My big hope for our next coach was what we now know as the "Silver Spoon, Coal Spoon" theory of coaches. There are coaches out there who believe in "execution" as the panacea to winning, and there are coaches out there who believe in using any and all tools available to win, not just through "out-executing" the other guy but up to and including aggressive, deceptive playcalling. I felt that the only way we were going to upgrade from Lloyd was if we switched from an Executor to a Scrabbler. Grobe, IMO, is a Scrabbler.
Definitely there was uncertainty and risk attached to Grobe, which you very neatly pointed out at the time and again in your comment. But considering the context in which we were dealing with the possibility of Grobe (Miles gone, Martin clueless, Hoke/Ferentz/MyGodDebord! as serious possibilities), Grobe would've been as close to an optimal outcome as we could have expected. The luck of Rodriguez falling into our lap aside, there were no realistic alternatives that were better than him, IMO.
Given that, I always felt that your evaluation of him was a little too harsh.
I didn't think Grobe was a long term, return to dominance type of candidate that RR could be.
My vision of Grobe was a capable coach, Solich-esque if you will, that could keep steady in the 8-9-10 range for a few years before we could make a grand slam hire of the new hotness. Which is, admittedly, a gamble, but one that seemed a lot better than forcing ourselves to believe Hoke could be the new hotness.
Your right on Dark Knight,
Schiano was not very appealing. RR has a better track record and just brings a more exciting brand of football.
I'm not sure what this says about any possible Schiano-PSU move down the road. I remember some PSU guy claiming last winter that "Godfather Joe" (his words) warned Schiano not to take the Michigan job. Of course, it's possible the guy was just making it up.
I do agree that he's got a great thing going at Rutgers. He's a living divinity there as long as he stays. And it's the only school in a fairly talent-rich state, so it's really not a bad setup.
I would never say those guys don't count, and as someone who was raised on Michigan football, I have what I think is proper reverence for Michigan's football history. At the same time, those records were compiled in the dark ages of college football before things like current conference affiliations, regular post-season bowl links, TV, national recruiting, etc. etc. They are important in making Michigan what it is, but they aren't important in determining expectations for Rodriguez.
If RR can win between 75-80% of his games (for reference purposes, the 5 best major conference teams since 2000 are between 78-85%) and consistently win games against rivals and high-quality opponents (let's say, at least 55% of those), then he will be a *great* coach.
along with a .500 record against OSU and in the bowls. But as has been pointed out, that would actually be uncharted territory for M, and would represent a significant spike up from historical performance.
Perhaps I'm not being realistic in asking for 10-2 regular seasons and .500 against OSU and in the bowls, but I still firmly believe that should be the expectation.