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Recent events have encouraged me to go back to read the sections of Three and Out about the 2007 coaching search. There are several lessons learned that James Hackett seems to have taken from the experience.
I very much want to avoid restarting the age-old debate on whether we should have hired Rich Rodriguez. That's not the issue here. The issue is how badly we screwed up the entire process, and what we are doing differently in 2014 to avoid the mistakes of 2007.
It seems to me that we can take away 3 major lessons from 2007:
(1) You need a single person in charge. In 2007, at least 3 separate people contacted coaching candidates on behalf of the University--and they were not always communicating with each other.
(2) Proceed with a sense of urgency, but not desperation. In 2007, Michigan went from having no real urgency straight into "panic mode."
(3) Control information. On several occasions in 2007, the media leaked information about events almost as soon as they happened. This scared at least one candidate away from the job who was otherwise quite willing to take it.
So...here is the chronology of the events of the four weeks from Lloyd Carr's official retirement to Rich Rodriguez's hiring, mostly summarized from Three and Out:
Saturday, November 17: Michigan loses to Ohio State.
Monday, November 19: Lloyd Carr announces that he will retire after January 1 bowl game. Bill Martin privately considers Kirk Ferentz the top candidate to replace Carr.
Wednesday, November 21: Mary Sue Coleman tells Bill Martin that Kirk Ferentz is not to be considered for the job.
Monday, November 26: Martin meets with the 6-member "search committee", mentions Tony Dungy as his preferred candidate, although Dungy had not been contacted nor had he expressed interest in the job. Committee discusses Brian Kelly & rejects him due to his reputation. Committee mentions Les Miles, Martin rejects the idea out of hand. No actual names were put forward for consideration other than Dungy; no plans were made to move forward.
Thursday, November 29: Miles's people attempt to contact Martin, not for the first time. They get in touch with Jamie Morris, who informs Martin of the contact attempts. Before leaving for a weekend trip to Florida, Martin tells Morris he will return the calls on Sunday when he gets back. Miles's people are not informed of this.
Saturday, December 1: Kirk Herbstreit announces Miles has accepted a job offer from Michigan. Miles's agent (and several people officially & unofficially associated with Michigan) desperately try to contact Martin in Florida, but Martin later claims he was not reachable because he did not know how to use his new cell phone. Miles announces to the press that he has not been talking to Michigan.
Sunday, December 2: Upon Martin's return to his Ann Arbor home, he receives an angry phone call from Coleman asking him what happened and where he was.
Monday, December 3: Martin announces to the media that he has a list of twenty candidates. Martin flies to New York under the guise of attending the National Football Foundation's Hall of Fame dinner.
Tuesday, December 4: Martin meets with Greg Schiano in New York City. Word of the secret meeting gets out to the press the same day. Search committee members express surprise, not having heard that Schiano was being considered for the job.
Thursday, December 6: Schiano announces to the press that he will not take the Michigan job. Martin informs search committee that the search would be postponed until after the bowl games.
Friday, December 7: In the wake of the bad publicity (and angry alumni feedback) that Michigan was beginning to receive, Coleman summons Martin to a private meeting in her office, informs him that she will be "working with" him on the coaching search until it is complete. Martin attempts to contact Miles, but is informed that Miles will only speak with Coleman, not with Martin. At 11am, Miles speaks with Coleman & Martin (in Coleman's office) on a conference call. Miles states "I would never say no to Michigan." By 1:30pm, news of the call has been leaked to the Detroit area press; Miles is not happy.
Monday, December 10: Coleman & Miles speak by telephone without Martin present. Coleman requests a face-to-face meeting in Miami for Tuesday (Miles will be there on a recruiting trip). Citing the press leak from Friday, Miles refuses to meet prior to the bowl game. Miles adds, "If you want me, then after the bowl game, I will be your coach...I would never say no to Michigan." Coleman discusses this phone call with regents Laurence Deitsch & Andrea Fischer Newman, who agree with this course of action, but ask her who is going to tell Carr. Coleman announces that she will do so. That evening, Carr calls Rich Rodriguez to talk about Michigan job. Rodriguez: "Is there interest in me on Michigan's part?" Carr: "Yeah, they're looking at you."
Tuesday, December 11: Carr encourages Martin to consider Rodriguez. Later that day, Michigan media announce that Miles is still being considered. That night, Martin calls Rodriguez to discuss the job. Rodriguez begins discussing job with friends.
Friday, December 14: Rodriguez, in Toledo for a pre-planned meeting with his financial planner, meets with Coleman & Martin. The job is offered to Rodriguez on the spot, with Coleman & Martin asking for an answer today. News of the meeting leaks to the media before the meeting ends. Martin asks Rodriguez to keep Carr's assistants. Coleman tells Martin, "No, Bill, you can't ask him to do that." Rodriguez tells Coleman & Martin that he needs to talk to West Virginia first.
Saturday, December 15: Rodriguez meets with President of WVU, who tells Rodriguez (basically) to take it or leave it.
Sunday, December 16: Coleman speaks by phone for 90 minutes with Miles and is very favorably impressed with him. Coleman tells Miles that they have offered the job to Rodriguez, but if it didn't work out they would contact Miles after his bowl game. WVU president tells the media that Rodriguez is never leaving. Rodriguez meets with Don Nehlen, who encourages him to take Michigan job. Rodriguez phones Martin to accept job offer, boards plane to Michigan.
Monday, December 17: Rodriguez introduced to media as Michigan's next coach. Rodriguez flies back to WV to close out business there.
Wednesday, December 19: Rodriguez returns to Michigan, followed by all of his assistants from WVU except Bill Stewart (who was not offered a job by Rodriguez) and Jeff Casteel (who was offered $265K and no contract by Michigan and $275K on a 2-year contract by WVU).