chance of bowl: 13.6%
ANN ARBOR -- Incoming Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez has fired all nine current assistant coaches.
There is a possibility defensive line coach Steve Stripling may be rehired.
Rodriguez, who was on campus Wednesday and Thursday to meet with football operations personnel and observe bowl practices, sat down with the coaches one by one on Thursday and to give each the news.
Wow. This is not entirely surprising, since Rodriguez said he would be bringing not only his spread offense from West Virginia but his 3-3-5 defense, which is an "odd stack" and therefore an odd duck the current staff is unfamiliar with. I kind of expected a few holdovers for recruiting continuity.
About that recruiting continuity: a common thing for recruits to say is "I'm still committed, but I'd like to see what happens with coach X." Well, Coach X is going to be somewhere else next year. Might have a decommit or two now; with Fred Jackson gone the McGuffie warning klaxons are going full-bore.
This should also dispel any conspiracy theories about Rodriguez being forced to keep so and so because, well, obviously. He's the man, man. And since everyone's getting paid this year if they don't latch on elsewhere there's not much to mourn. It'll be interesting to see where the discarded coaches end up, as it'll be an acid test of their attractiveness to the coaching community. Ron English, rumored to be under consideration as UW's DC, seems likely to land on his feet. Certain others... not so much.
A question: was this blog useful at all during the coaching search?
The traffic numbers indicate that it was at least interesting, but in the end the stuff on this blog couldn't have been more wrong. There was a ten minute window during which
- MGoBlog had a post in which it noted the WVU message boards had done a sudden 180, and
- said 180 had not reached the mainstream media.
If you managed to visit the blog in this brief window you had accurate insight into Michigan's next coach you could not have gotten elsewhere. The cost was a nonstop avalanche of stuff that induced panic, made Bill Martin a sailboat pariah, and made everyone depressed for the better part of a month.
Then, bam: Rodriguez! Don't we all look foolish. Most especially me.
This blog has always been pretty gung-ho on the information available on the internet. With proper safeguards -- multiple independent-seeming reports, basically, and hopefully a couple of them from people bearing track records -- there is stuff out there that can be gleaned that cannot be gleaned otherwise, at at a remarkably high accuracy level. I still believe this.
Just not about coaching searches.
Things the internet said over the past month:
- Ferentz has not only been offered but accepted the job (multiply sourced!)
- Miles told his team he was accepting the Michigan job.
- Rodriguez was staying at WVU.
And it could have been worse: during the Schiano Era a good source indicated that Schiano had accepted the job. I was spared a difficult decision because I was rocking a fake bass until ridiculously late at night and by the time I arose in the morning, the Schiano Era was over.
The moral of the story: coaching searches are crazy. And, like Bill Martin, I acted a n00b for good sections. The first and clearest error on both our parts: Kirk Ferentz. From there things were uneven, but Martin gets to point to Rich Rodriguez and all I get to point to is a post that says "no Rich Rodriguez!"
So... yeah. The internet's did about as well during all this as we thought Michigan was doing. Our (er... my) only consolation is that ESPN did about as well as we did. Oh, and that we hired Rich Freakin' Rodriguez.
As a commenter said in the aftermath "now I can stop reading this goddamn blog." Amen: now I can stop writing it. It's been sort of fun, but I welcome the opportunity to never do this again. Back to the tables and charts. But first, a recap of the madness. (Warning: occasional F-bomb.)
Wither Martin? In the aftermath of the Sailboat Disaster, I wrote:
Michigan's chances at landing Miles are now much weaker than they were a week ago, and it's because Martin blew the most important decision in Michigan athletics since 1969. Because he was on a damn boat too busy to return a phone call.
He has a chance to make good with an excellent hire; anything short of that and he should be run out of town on a rail.
Mission accomplished, and the "how" of it doesn't matter. Even if your faith in his ability to conduct a coaching search is shaken, Martin's old and isn't going to be around for another in either revenue (read: madness-inducing) sport. His record since the Amaker hire is impressive: getting the program on sound financial footing in the aftermath of the disastrous Goss era, retaining Maloney in the face of actual SEC offers, embarking on a radical and needed stadium makeover, and raiding West Virginia for everything that's not nailed down.
Now, do I think that this was headed in a very bad direction before Mary Sue Coleman got heavily involved? Yes. Was Martin caught flat-footed and unprepared? Yes. Did he luck out by stumbling across what appears to be a poisoned relationship and an athletic director who allowed personal feelings to interfere with having a kick-ass football team? Yes.
Given all the crazy stuff that went down over the past month, would I put much behind these opinions? Not really. MGoBlog remains a results-based charting service. Bill Martin: I'm sorry.
A completely speculative and unconfirmed timeline of events.
This is just what I think happened based on everything that's been sent to me and appeared in the press and would logically lead to the things we have had confirmed in the MSM.
1. Carr pushes Ferentz. This was probably happening during the season to some extent, though Carr was busy coaching the team. Given the way the season played out it had to be immediately apparent that someone on the current staff was a no-go. Carr surveys the available coaches and concludes Ferentz is his guy and pushes Martin to pursue things. With Miles facing down a potential national title game, he's off the table.
Is there an offer at this point? Obviously, this depends on who you listen to. I get the feeling many of these conversations go "we could hypothetically offer you $2 million and a hypothetical pony"; "I would hypothetically need a salary that matches my current salary, plus the pony." So plausible deniability is maintained. The Schiano stuff provides an exemplar:
Schiano called the team to the Hale Center at 7 a.m. and told them he "still had work to do" at Rutgers. Schiano looked physically exhausted and said "this was a hard decision," according to a member of the football staff who was in the meeting.
The member of the football staff requested anonymity because of the private nature of the team meeting, but said Schiano looked "tired, beaten up and physically exhausted." He said the Michigan job was Schiano's if he wanted it, but the job was never officially offered.
No offer from Michigan == "tired, beaten up and physically exhausted"? Equals a team meeting to dismiss said rumors? No, probably not.
I think Michigan offered Ferentz the job but the terms were such that he was very unlikely to accept, or they had talks that implied to Ferentz that the job was his if he wanted it, much like Schiano did. I know people close to the Iowa staff thought Ferentz had an offer on the table, and through channels are really unlikely to be an agent's ploy.
Ferentz turns it down, whatever it is, or Michigan can't meet his demands or something. In any case, talks break down.
2. Les Miles is a done deal. It's a done deal, baby! With Ferentz out and LSU suddenly out of the national championship, speculation turns to Miles. Michigan gets permission to contact. Done deal! LSU says "okay, coach the bowl"! Done deal! Four different guys say the LSU players have been told! Done deal! Some people say it's not a done deal, but MORE people say it is! Done deal! Herbstreit reports Miles and Tenuta to Michigan! DONE DEAL!!! Miles has press conference! DONE--
3. Les Miles is still on the table! H
ey, his presser was kind of weird and left room for semantic wiggling. Maybe he's just putting it off until after the --
"I will be LSU's head coach next year. Absolutely."
4. Brady Hoke... well, that's cute. Hoke interviews. Nobody thinks this is anything but a courtesy.
5. Come Sail Away. In the aftermath, we try to figure out what happened with Miles. First theory: Carr put the kibosh on it. Completely impossible to believe counter-theory: Bill Martin was on a boat and couldn't be reached as LSU put on its power play. Ha-ha-ha, crazy internet with the crazy thing--
Miles had no idea if Michigan really wanted him.
So Bass [Miles' agent] decided to ask.
He said he called Martin's cell phone on Friday and left a message. He just wanted to know where Miles stood.
Then, when he didn't hear back, the agent said he called Martin again.
"The (LSU) deal was so good that we couldn't just wait," Bass said via phone Tuesday. "I didn't know if we were one of the candidates in the pool at that time. There was just no communication."
Where was Martin? One source places him in Florida, at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo.
Wherever he was, he didn't call back.
6. He's back! He's not. Ferentz briefly re-emerges, then fades.
7. Ha, ha, Brady Hoke. Dienhart claims Hoke is the frontrunner. He is laughed upon.
8. Schia-no. We're now about a week past the Miles kerfuffle, a week full of recriminations as the warring pro- and anti-Miles camps take their spat into the local papers. I've obviously lost my mind and would chew off Bill Martin or Lloyd Carr's face if I thought it would bring Miles to Michigan. Big donors are reportedly very pissed off. And the only persons even mentioned over the past week are Hoke and Ferentz, neither of whom seems plausible.
It's at this point I think Coleman steps in and Michigan's search starts making sense, two weeks after Carr steps down. Michigan offers Schiano the job, reportedly for the same amount Miami offered the year before, right after a fortuitously timed Profile In Heroism and gets turned down. More recriminations.
9. Sean Payton? No.
11. Seriously, Brady Hoke? Along with the Miles news comes buzz that Hoke is actually getting pushed by anti-Miles forces. A Profile In Cronyism is deployed to display just how bad an idea this is. Morale is low.
13. GROBE! The next day sees Jim Grobe pick up internet momentum, and though by this point internet momentum is worth about as much as the Great White Fail's schematic advantage Grobe is still the perfect platform to launch yet another broadside at this apparently botched search. At this point face-consumption possibilities have expanded to friends, my brother, and most players not named "Mike Hart".
14. Radio silence. Things go dark and there are no plausible candidates about. Fan hopes seem to focus on non-BCS head coaches and NFL coordinators. Two completely implausible names come forward: Lane Kiffin and KC Keeler.
15. Rodriguez. TSN breaks that Michigan is meeting with Rich Rodriguez in Toledo. ("Why Toledo," you ask? Easy: closest Chick-Fil-A to Ann Arbor.) Everyone immediately dismisses this as ludicrously implausible, but all of a sudden the thing has legs. I start stalking the posts of WVU insiders who were right on during the Beilein search. It could happen! It could happen!
Wha... wha... ? No. Really?
The internet responds! Much of it is stupid.
I love the internet, especially in times of trouble for opponents. And this, my friends, is a time of trouble for Michigan opponents. Ask anyone who isn't facing down the spectre regular six-touchdown buttwhippings*, like Florida fans or Bruce Feldman...
If I'm a Michigan fan, I'm ecstatic knowing the Wolverines have just landed Rich Rodriguez. I'd rather have him over any of the guys who had been linked to UM job.
...or Dan Shanoff...
Coach Rod represents the absolute best-case scenario for Michigan fans -- the absolute best coach available.
...or the cavalcade of swoon linked the past few days. They will all tell you the obvious thing: hiring a guy who's gone to BCS games two of the last three years, won his conference four of the last five years, and has gone 32-6 the past three years is a pretty good idea.
HORRIBLE hire for Michigan, HORRIBLE hire for WV... Absolute GREAT hire for the rest of the big 10. UM should start wearing purple and black. They will be the new Northwestern. One great year followed by a ton of sub 500 years. This is a GREAT day to hate Michigan
A fellow Spartan plays Reasonable Cop, disagreeing like so:
I don't think RR will bring glory back to UM, but I'm not drunk enough on kool-aide to think he'll take them any further down than 4th place in the conference
Black Shoe Diaries is moderately negative...
As far as Michigan goes, I think they will regret this decision in a few years. He has a history of being an opportunist. While at West Virginia he strung along secret negotiations with Alabama and was even rumored to have an agreement in principle. But he decided to stay in West Virginia anyway, but his wandering eye turned off a lot of the West Virginia faithful. Now it's reasonable to assume that Rodriguez won't be looking at other college head coaching jobs. He's at Michigan now. There aren't many other more attractive jobs out there that would warrant another move. But what if he has some success and the NFL comes calling? Is he committed to Michigan for life? Or is he going to be persuaded to listen to every offer that comes along? ...
What happens if Rodriguez starts ignoring cherished time-honored traditions? What happens if he fails speak of Bo Schembechler and Fielding Yost as if they were saints? What happens when he loses to Ohio State and says "Win some. Lose some" in his post game press conference?
While the first paragraph may be something of a concern -- he's certainly more likely to bolt than Les Miles would be -- Michigan is a terminal job in college football and NFL teams are unlikely to leap at an opportunity to hire a guy who relies so heavily on running quarterbacks unless Michigan just owns the opposition, and... uh... okay. I'm willing to take that change. As for the rest of it: what happens if Rodriguez slaps himself in a press conference after losing to Illinois? I agree that if it turns out Michigan has hired a lunatic, it will be bad for the program. It's not something to fret about until we hear he's slapped Tyrelle Pryor.
But it's the BSD commenters who crack me up:
RichRod had a good thing going at WVU, and now he's leaving that behind for the Michigan microscope? Sounds like a bad idea to me. Didn't WVU bend over backwards for him too with facilities upgrades to keep him there last offseason? Had RichRod already emotionally taken the scUM job when his 'Neers lost to Pitt? Interesting indeed.
Leaving a good thing for the big-time too early, sound familiar Chucky Weis?
Indeed, a Michigan program that hasn't fired a coach for on-field performance matters in 40 years is truly a roiling pressure-cooker of a situation. And truly, seven years as a head coach at a top 25 program is not enough of an apprenticeship period. And a proven college head coach is the exact equivalent of hiring a morbidly obese sociopath who's never so much as picked up a whistle as a head coach.
Ohio State fans are generally dismissive (Eleven Warriors does call it a "good hire"), but there were, by my count, exactly two coaches Michigan could hire that would create even the slightest blip on OSU's radar: Urban Meyer and Jim Tressel. Neither was thought to be available.
The Nation seems split between knocking down Rodriguez' accomplishments and playing up the "Mallett has no legs" issue...
Ferentz would have been a much better choice. Why Michigan chose a coach that specializes in a scheme thats completely incompatible with their current personnel is beyond me.
... and saying "crap":
Michigan has outdone all ND coach searches (basketball and football) since November 1986.
It's not all batty out there, kids. Boiled Sports:
I don't know if Michigan will be great next season...but they will soon. That dude can coach. ...
I even bought a WVU hat because of my like for Rodriguez; and I've never disliked UM...so I'm happy that the Wolverines got a good guy. I'm sad that he'll be kicking Purdue's ass regularly, but it's a good hire none-the-less.
Rich Rodriguez is a much better hire than Les Miles would've been. The Michigan fans can continue to bitch all season long about the sailing loving Bill Martin, but there is no one else out there better for the Maize 'n Blue than this hire. Ann Arbor is going to be intimidating once again.
He pwn3d the Big East, winning 4 of the last 5 titles a
nd 3 coach of the year awards. His teams run the spread option better than just about anyone. In other words, this ain't your father's Michigan offense anymore, and Florida (and, increasingly, Illinois) has taught us all the basic math of Wacko Ninja Offense + Top-Notch Talent = Carnage.
*(Ohio State fans excepted, of course, as they are not actually staring said prospect down.)
"This was an unexpected situation, but given the fact that K'Len's family has moved to Mississippi during the summer we fully understand the choice K'Len had to make for himself," coach John Beilein said Wednesday in a statement. "We will continue to offer any support that he will need now and in the future."
This is probably not so good, since Morris seemed to buy into Beilein's system when he arrived and might have developed into a contributor down the road; with '08 recruiting virtually over no suitable replacement is likely to arrive until '09.
Late today; sorry. Amuse yourself with Rodriguez:
Right, if you were panicking about the WVU boards erupting in a mess of "RR may return!!!," you can stop panicking:
A West Virginia University athletics spokesman says Rich Rodriguez's resignation as football coach is effective at midnight Tuesday instead of Jan. 3.
WVU football spokesman Mike Montoro confirmed the change late Tuesday but said he did not know why the effective date was moved forward.
If you weren't, good job.
Right, that other sport.
John Beilein's picked up a commit recently and stands to get another one soon. The commit is UD-Jesuit forward Jordan Morgan, a 6'8" power forward who's a three star recruit not currently listed in anyone's top 150.
The pending recruit is Arizona freshman Laval Lucas-Perry, who's set on transferring and will get his release from the Wildcats. Lucas-Perry was scheduled to decide between Wake Forest and Michigan, but...
The Arizona transfer, a 6-foot-3 guard, on Tuesday cancelled a visit to Wake Forest. ...
"I would say this is a good sign for Michigan, that's for sure," Laval Perry told The Detroit News about his son's cancelled visit.
Lucas-Perry would be eligible next January as a mid-year departure. (Via the Diag.)
Though he was listed as a point guard by recruiting services (which had him at the tail end of their top 150s), Lucas-Perry is more of an undersized shooting guard, reputed to be an accurate three point shooter. He was averaging about ten minutes a game at Arizona.
Here's a student newspaper article on him from Arizona. Highlight video:
Coach's reaction upon his departure:
O'Neill said he didn't try to persuade Lucas-Perry to stay, but "I didn't want him to leave. I would have loved to see him stay. He's a great kid and a good student. He's a good player.'' Lucas-Perry, from Grand Blanc, Mich., has appeared in five of the team's eight games, averaging 4.0 points and 9.8 minutes
Lucas-Perry fills the departed Kendrick Price's scholarship slot; Michigan still has two scholarships to give in the '09 class.
It's back. Sort of.
This space lost track of recruiting news during the rollercoaster ride of the coaching search; now that things are resolved and the program has a direction again we can focus on college football slightly sleazy underworld with a clear conscience, or at least the faith that whatever we're doing isn't going to be completely invalidated in two weeks.
Instead of an incremental change/update like was usual in the offseason and, to a lesser extent, during the season, we require a total reset as a reminder.
Probably not that much except a more diverse approach to quarterback recruiting and perhaps an increased emphasis on picking up little darty guys like Steve Breaston, Darius Reynaud, and Cameron Saddler. Offensive linemen still have to block. Receivers still have to catch. Defenders still have to tackle.
Rodriguez did mention his intention to bring the 3-3-5 stack to Michigan when it was appropriate, but Michigan is no stranger to sort of personnel grouping, at least situationally. (I remain unclear on what, exactly, the stack entails and how it manages to be a decent run defense; this is an area for offseason study.) With the prevalence of spread offenses this year, Michigan spent large swathes of the season in a nickel package with a designated "nickelback" who might be a "hero" or "bandit" to other programs. The scheme might change a bit, but the recruiting is unlikely to shift much. We'll still recruit Detroit DE Nick Perry, but he's probably going to be Detroit LB Nick Perry. Etc.
IL QB John Wienke is definitely gone, having decommitted in favor of Iowa over the weekend.
MI CB Boubacar Cissoko claims he is still committed but also claims he is down to a final two of Penn State and Michigan; he'll visit PSU the weekend of January 11th. It seems like Ron English will not return, so he might be a battle. PA H-back Christian Wilson had started to look around and is understandably concerned about his role in Rodriguez' offense; hopefully some Owen Schmitt highlights...
...will set him back on the path of righteousness. (Might not want to show this one to your mom, though.) As mentioned this morning
Various recruiting sites and local newspapers have gotten hold of most of the rest the class; everyone seems to be more or less solid. The Free Press got Kenny Demens, Brandon Moore, and Dann O'Neill on the record as still committed and have indirect indications from those three that McGuffie, Wilson, JB Fitzgerald, and Mike Martin are on board, though the McGuffie thing remains a question as mentioned above. There's also a Grand Haven Tribune article on O'Neill's conversation with Rodriguez:
"We actually just chatted, getting to know each other," O'Neill said. "I thought that was impressive. Most coaches would call and talk business. He called to find out who I am. He said he wanted to get to know me and my family, and wanted me to get to know his family."
Bill Kurelic has been in contact with IN OL Kurt Wermers; he remains a firm commit.
There might be some wiggle when and if certain position coaches get replaced, but as of right now the only casualty is Wienke and that list is unlikely to grow by more than one or two players. Potential casualties are more likely on the offensive line and at linebacker.
Well, that Terrelle Pryor guy. Pryor is this year's consensus #1 QB recruit and has drawn comparisons to Vince Young for three years. (He's also a top-25 basketball recruit, a small forward.) When Rodriguez left for Michigan, Pryor might have been the first guy to know. Pryor called up Bob Lichtenfels, told him the news, and said "put Michigan on my list." Some low-level internet buzz suggests he's not just interested, but likely to commit.
There's also OH WR/DB DJ Woods, a guy who badly wanted offers from Ohio State and/or Michigan earlier in the year. When he didn't get those, he committed to Nebraska, only to watch Bill Callahan and company implode and leave. He then switched his commitment to West Virginia, only to see Rodriguez leave. Michigan has now offered him and intends on pursuing him heavily; he seems a good bet to end up here.
A wide array of prospects committed elsewhere during Michigan's monthlong coaching search. Many of them were thought to be longshots, but a fair number seemed good possibilities before the turmoil:
- PA WRs Jonathan Baldwin and Cameron Saddler committed to Pitt (Baldwin then donned a stupid-looking hat), as did PA TE Hubie Graham. Graham was a longshot, but the other two seemed to have high interest in Michigan at one point. West Virginia was thought to be a strong contender for Saddler and the spread offense is one in which his talents will be maximized, so Rodriguez will probably take a run at him despite the commitment.
- PA DE Shayne Hale dropped Michigan and is apparently leaning to Pitt. Given this reaction upon Rodriguez's hiring, he's probably not rushing to put on a winged helmet:
"I was still considering West Virginia, so this is a big shocker," Hale said. "Personally, I didn't expect him to be leaving. He was telling everyone that he was going to be there for a while and that he wasn't going anywhere. This makes him look like he lied."
Four-star safety Spencer Adams took an official visit to Clemson last weekend.
"I'd definitely give the visit to Clemson a 9.5," he said. "It's Clemson and North Carolina, with Florida and Michigan trailing. I have my last visit to NC State on Jan. 18, and then I'll make my decision sometime in January."
Maybe the Rodriguez hire will change things, but as of now he's a longshot.
What's the upshot?
Michigan's done a good job of holding together its existing class. Uncommitted recruits, on the other hand, have dropped Michigan left and right, leaving Rodriguez with a good base but little opportunity to bring in more highly rated guys with the obvious exception of Pryor. We'll know more in a couple weeks when the dead period ends and Michigan's recruiting priorities re-assert themselves. The most likely outcome of the next couple months: Michigan picks up a bunch of three-stars and sleepers to fill out a class that ends up less than great, with Pryor being an enormous swing between a to
p ten class and a top twenty one.
More specifics as things become clear; I'm going to hold off on changes to the board for a week or two.
Spread 'n' Shred.
"As far as my reaction to that job, we are Michigan State. So that's my reaction."
A portion of the first sentence was omitted: "...so we're going to lose at least three of four no matter who they hire."
Watch me zoom. Michigan's posted an overview of the renovations that provides a bunch of flyby stuff so you can see the artist's rendition of the new facilities from every angle:
(If the embedding isn't working -- and it isn't for me -- here's a link .)
I know some have objected to the project's aesthetics, but IMO the end result is a huge improvement over the current facade, which is mostly exposed girder and gray metal. Also interesting that the new structures appear to extend to Main Street on one side and the stadium steps on the other.
I still wonder what they're going to do about season ticket holders, many of whom have been sitting in the same place for decades, when they re-do the benches. I hope they figure out that no one's going to be too peeved if they end up two rows further back, but a move from the 20 to the 10 might spur a trip to Ann Arbor Torch and Pitchfork -- if they don't go bankrupt by 2010, that is.
McGuffdate! Sam McGuffie's status may hinge on that of RB coach Fred Jackson:
"I don't know what he [Jackson] is going to do. I am real interested in what he has to say," McGuffie said in an interview with Scout.com.
He remains committed to Michigan pending resolution of the staff shakeup. Cissoko from the NYT:
Detroit cornerback Boubacar Cissoko, who has committed to Michigan and is ranked as the nation's third-best player at his position by Scout.com, described the hiring of Rodriguez as a "good choice," but said he was eager to talk with him.
Since Carr announced his retirement Nov. 19, Cissoko said he had been bombarded by calls from many programs, including Tennessee, Virginia, L.S.U., Alabama, Penn State and Miami.
"I want to find what he's all about before I can make any moves," Cissoko said of Rodriguez in a telephone interview.
He seems likely to stay.
West Virginia: pissed, in pockets. The above picture comes from the Charleston Daily Mail. The paper headed out to Grant Town, the tiny hamlet that claimed Rich Rodriguez as its favorite son. The signs proclaiming that have been shoved in a garage. Unofficially replacing them:
To an outsider, it doesn't seem like much happens in Grant Town, which is about 10 miles northwest of Fairmont in Marion County.
Abandoned storefronts dot the main drag.
Locals say the town formerly hosted 15 bars, two garages, a movie theater, schools and a St. Anthony's Catholic Church, which Rodriguez and his family attended.
The closure of Eastern Associated coalmine in 1985 produced a domino-like effect on the rest of the town's economy, they say.
Cell phone reception here is spotty, at best, and there's nowhere to gas up or grab a bite to eat.
... and the bitter feelings some harbor.
Direct that bitter. According to a set of well-connected WVU boosters, the person WVU fans should be mad at is not Rodriguez but athletic director Ed Pastilong. For all the complaining about how Michigan would not shell out for a coach, it was WVU's inexplicably miserly behavior that spurred a move:
"I tell you what, I've never seen anything mishandled as much as this was," Bob Reynolds, former chief operating officer of Fidelity Investments, said yesterday. "Here's a university that made a $200,000 decision -- it probably could've cost less than that [to keep Mr. Rodriguez] -- and it's going to cost them millions" in booster support, potential bowl money and revenue from football success.
"I've had calls from at least six major contributors to the program, and they're all done [donating] because they know the Mickey Mouse things that have gone on there," Mr. Reynolds continued. "I've been in business 36 years, and it's the worst business decision I've ever seen. I've been the COO of a 45,000-person company. When somebody's producing, you ask, 'What can I do for you to make your life better?' Not 'What can I do to make your life more miserable?' They have no idea how big this is. It's frightening."
Rodriguez's simple list of requests:
In separate meetings with Athletic Director Ed Pastilong, Chief of Staff Craig Walker and, finally, late Saturday night with newly installed President Mike Garrison, he asked the university to do the following:
â€¢ Allow at least an additional $100,000 in bonus money for his assistants.
â€¢ Allow scholarship players to retain possession of textbooks at the end of each term, which meant they could have sold them, as apparently happens at other programs.
â€¢ Waive a $5 ticket fee for each high-school football coach attending Mountaineer home games, a fee that generates an estimated $5,000 for the university each season.
â€¢ Hire seven graduate assistants and a new recruiting coordinator, to ease the duties performed by secondary coach Tony Gibson.
The same set of boosters now complaining about Rodriguez's exit offered to pay for the requests; they were turned down. Suddenly, sailboating seems a minor offense indeed. The West Virginia message boards were full of dark speculation about a rift between Rodriguez and portions of the AD; that speculation appears t
o be true. Without some personal emnity between Pastilong and Rodriguez you have to assume these ridiculously minor issues would have gotten resolved.
This is just one side of the story, sure, but several different boosters are quoted here and all are seriously pissed off, you guys. I think we managed to run across the Isaiah Thomas of athletic directors here, and fleeced him twice.
(Via Michigan Tailgate.)
Playbook. A copy of West Virginia's 2005 playbook exists online. How it got there and how damaging that is to the spread's efficacy is unknown (though survey says "not much" on the latter, as WVU was top 20 in both total and scoring offense the past two years; Rodriguez is also remarkably open with his system), but it is a fascinating document. Page 20 contains the lyrics to "Country Roads" -- check here for a refresher on the blog proprietor's strange relationship with that piece of Americana -- but it's page that thrills and amazes:
You have to be a deeply pathologized Michigan fan for this to be exciting: guilty. I plan on reviewing it in-depth as time allows (and promise to stop mentally copyediting things like "physicalness" to "physicality"); probably sometime in the new year.
Adios, Les. If you believe the remarkably persistent internet rumors that even after multiple denials Les Miles was a prime candidate for the job, there's only one conclusion you can make: Miles really, really wanted to come home. The one sour note in yesterdays press conference came when Rodriguez said Michigan-Ohio State was one of the country's best rivalries, something that is true if you're from West Virginia but a heinous undersell to anyone from Michigan or Ohio -- you mean "best rivalry in anything anywhere ever". At that moment, I thought of Miles, and was a bit melancholy for him.
At his press conference yesterday, Miles put on a JoePa-style standup comedy exhibition:
"I know it's disappointing to some of you that don't like me," Michigan alum Miles said as laughter broke out, "and really wish that I had taken the Michigan job that was not offered. I couldn't get them interested in me, so you're stuck with me."
Amongst the roiling cauldron of conflicting desires I'll have during the national championship game -- OSU should not win, the Big Ten should, the SEC loons should shut up -- will be a desire to see Les do well.
Etc: Jon Runyan was a major motivating factor in Brian Westbrook's smart (but fantasy-owner-maddening) decision to take a knee at the one; check mgo.licio.us on the sidebar for a regular stream of articles that come in.