this week in unintentionally grim-sounding recruiting headlines
Two sources . . .
Have now told me that Kirk Ferentz is at the top of Michigan's list of coaching candidates.
Members of Michigan's search committee leaked today that Ferentz has been made priority No. 1. Lloyd Carr, who's retiring after 13 seasons at Michigan, is pushing for Ferentz, a source said. He has a say in this. Mary Sue Coleman, UM's president and the UI president when Ferentz was hired at Iowa, has a say in this. That's according to logic, by the way.
For those concerned about bloggy stuff, Mark Morehouse is a sportswriter for an Iowa paper. For those concerned about the Ferentz's-agent angle, Morehouse makes it clear this is coming from Michigan's end. For those just plain concerned, well... yeah.
Stunning, probably wrong graph:
Ferentz makes $2.84 million at Iowa, and that's guaranteed through 2012 (that's $14.2 million over the next five years). Michigan knows it's going to take between $3.5 and $4 million to get in the ballpark, with a lot of coaches, not just Ferentz.
This does not jive with the "insulting" offer provided Miles unless this whole fiasco was downright deliberate.
|Head Coach, Navy|
|Head Coach @ I-AA Georgia Southern||1997-2001|
|OC @ Navy||1995-1996|
|OC @ Hawaii||1987-1994|
|OC @ Georgia Southern||1985-1986|
Paul Johnson has carved a winner out of moribund Navy, a grand accomplishment in this era of college football. Navy the ten years before Johnson's arrival:
After an ugly 2-10 first year, Navy has gone 8-5, 10-2, 8-4, 9-4, and is currently 8-4 with the Poinsettia Bowl pending. The last time Navy had five consecutive winning season was 1978-1982, and before that you have to go back to the sixties. Johnson's 6-0 against Army -- the first six-game winning streak in that rivalry's history -- and 5-1 against Air Force. Navy does not suck.
Johnson's record at Georgia Southern is even more impressive. In his five years with the Eagles, Johnson won five conference titles, four national coach of the year awards, and two national titles. He won 86% of his games and turned around a program that had gone 4-7 the year previous; Johnson's first year at GSU resulted in a 10-3 season, the program's best since 1989.
Xs and Os Proficiency: Johnson's specialty is offense, and he's worked wonders with limited talent by taking advantage of what military academy players do have: smarts and discipline. At Navy, Johnson's triple option attack has consistenly landed the Middies in the top 30 in offense, an accomplishment all the more impressive when you consider the game-shortening that naturally occurs when you run the ball all the damn time. At Georgia Southern and Hawaii he lit up scoreboards as well.
The question here is the same that dogged Urban Meyer before his arrival at Florida: can this offense work against top-flight defenses? In Meyer's case, the answer appears to be "as long as you have a robotic hulk-beast that devours all in its path, sure!"
Recruiting: The great unknown with Johnson, as he's never coached at a place that we can gather any data about.
Potential Catches: Ah, but so. Johnson has done all this with a pounding triple option ground attack that hasn't been seen at a major college program since Nebraska made the infinitely wise decision to hire Bill Callahan.
A host of other BCS programs have looked at Johnson but fled the risk of a system often regarded as antiquated, and they aren't nearly as married to the idea of Paul Bunyan on the pocket as Michigan is. The current QBs on the Michigan roster: 6'7" statue Ryan Mallett, 6'5" statue Steven Threet, and 6'5" statue David Cone. The current Michigan QB recruit: 6'5" statue John Wienke. Johnson just wouldn't be able to run his system for two to four years.
Johnson has a history of sniping at the press, too, which no doubt disqualifies him. I heard Belicheck once forgot to feed his cat, so he's out, too.
Also, the guy has a masters degree from Appalachian State.
Relative Compensation: Michigan could easily afford Johnson, but he's a hot name this offseason with SMU and Duke rumored to be pursuing him heavily, SMU with a $2 million per year offer. Michigan would probably have to match that.
Would He Take The Job? Yes.
Overall Attractiveness: Johnson looks to be an outstanding coach. You can't have his results and not be exceptional at what you do; he's working at one of the toughest jobs in the country right now and outperforming all reasonable expectations for what an academy can do in this era of college football. Before that he dominated a lower division much like Jim Tressel and Brian Kelly did.
But he's too much of a risk for Michigan. We have no idea if he can recruit or if his offense can function at a high level, and we know damn well that his offense can't work with Michigan's roster as currently composed. It's not that Johnson can't succeed running something else, but one of his main assets is this clever triple option thing that he's spent better than a decade perfecting; he's much less attractive without that.
It's not really the triple option that bothers me. I kind of like the idea of having an offense unique in major college football, as it would make Michigan (gasp!) difficult to prepare for. But the unsuitability of the current roster to run it would make the first three or four years of implementing it painful, and at 50 Johnson does have enough long term upside to justify the risk. Hiring him to run something else is silly, the equivalent of Notre Dame fans quickly backtracking and saying "wait, Charlie just needs to learn how to be a COLLEGE coach!" when the thing that set him apart was his brilliant NFL mind and his contacts and blah blah blah.
Johnson's a good, maybe great, coach, but a poor fit at Michigan. If I was Maryland or Michigan State or Ole Miss or any hopefully mid-level BCS program, though, he would be top of the list.
Better that Debord? YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES
Read this. Several people have urged me to urge you to write Bill Martin with your (polite) opinion on the way this has all unfolded, and Joey provides an excellent exemplar for how you should approach these things. Read the whole thing; Joey also includes an email from a former Michigan player being forwarded around that includes the genesis of the "come sail away" rumor:
Les Miles did want to coach here very badly, and the reports were right. This can be attributed to him being on the phone with a former teammate and very good friend of his until 2:00 am Friday night wondering why he hadn't been contacted yet when Michigan authorities knew about the contract extension. Les was put in a very difficult spot because he had not been assured that the job would be his by anyone at Michigan. There were financial arrangements between third parties beforehand and that was all agreed upon but there was no indication from Michigan directly that the job was his. The discussion of finances before interviews is pretty standard for Michigan when conducting a job search as I was told.
It was apparent that the Michigan admin. had reservations about him (that's another topic all together and can be discussed by someone else) and were not ready to pull the trigger even though the search committee all but confirmed he was the right guy. The search committee, by the way, is a front with no real teeth. When the developments happened yesterday morning with ESPN, Les was put in a real bad position and had to address the issue so that it would not be a distraction. As everyone knows the extension offer was only good for Saturday and he stood to lose a lot of money with no word whatsoever from Michigan about his position. He did what a lot of people would do.
A former player and member of the search committee tried to frantically call the Michigan Admin. as this was all developing and did not get anyone on the phone. Reason why? Sailing.
Contact was made today by Michigan Admin. to Les with Les telling him "door is not closed but closing." The Admin. responded that Les was one of several in a pool of candidates they are considering, and that Michigan wanted someone who was more invested in being at Michigan than at being well paid. Les's agent considered it a dead issue.
It appears that the Michigan Admin. was not all that interested in hiring Les and used the gentleman's agreement of not calling until after the game to his advantage. It looks like Michigan Admin. got over on Les.
Don't blame Les on this one. He wanted to be the head coach here but it seems other people had other agendas. A lot of former players are really upset about the way this was handled, including myself.
Martin's email address is email@example.com for anyone interested in making their case. You're probably as livid as I am after reading that, so you should probably fire off a profanity and threat-laden one to Herbstreit before sending off something more composed to Martin.
IBFC also has an open letter of its own.
Who now? I don't know and it appears no one else does, either. Most of the names being thrown about are complete shots in the dark. Witness this article from St. Louis on Gary Pinkel:
MU coach Gary Pinkel now could be coveted by many other schools seeking coaches, including Michigan, the winningest program in college football history.
Pinkel is a candidate!
Pinkel could not be reached to comment on Monday, but on Sunday night he declined to comment on rumors about Michigan, where coach Lloyd Carr last month announced he would retire at the end of the season.
"I'm not commenting on fiction," Pinkel told the Post-Dispatch, adding, "Nobody's contacted me."
Or the only reason this article is being written is that Pinkel said no one had been in contact when asked. Most of the names out there have nothing behind them, not even rumors, except attractive records. The list of names bandied about -- Schiano, Tedford, Pinkel, Grobe -- is purest speculation; we really have no idea where the search is or where it's going. Apparently the only thing we do know: Brian Kelly is too much of a meanie to be considered.
A possible exception. Angelique Chengelis might have something more solid:
The pool of candidates includes Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, who two weeks ago was thought to have been off the list. But sources said Monday that Michigan has Ferentz among a number of candidates including Rutgers' Greg Schiano, Wake Forest's Jim Grobe, Missouri's Gary Pinkel, Ball State's Brady Hoke, Cal's Jim Tedford and N.C. State's Tom O'Brien.
At least this one has "sources" backing it, although they appear to be sources that don't know Jeff Tedford's first name. In order, that list is okay, disappointing, disappointing, horrifying, WOOOO, and horrifying.
Quitter! The Free Press has the best headline ever:
ESPN's Herbstreit on inaccurate Miles-U-M report: I will never gather news and report again
This, of course, assumes that stating something completely and totally wrong counts as "reporting news."
Wholehogsports.com is reporting that Arkansas AD Jeff Long has interviewed Clemson coach Tommy Bowden, Tulsa co-offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn and Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English for the Razorbacks' head coaching vacancy.
English isn't likely to get an offer.
Wheee! More fuel for the "Come Sail Away" theory of extreme incompetence infecting all levels of the AD:
I heard, for example, Michigan's "unofficial" offer to Miles was close to "insulting."
The number I heard was $1.8 million, which is exactly what Miles makes at LSU now... or at least until Thursday, which is a low-ball number. (Voracity* of that number is low, BTW.)
*(I know how to use words; inside blog baseball joke.)
Etc.: The Realests run down the top ten options for Michigan now that Miles is gone; MVictors dispatched a correspondent to the Harvard debacle; Miles didn't exactly sound unequivocal on Mike & Mike, though he has at other times and at this point parsing every sentence from him is an exercise in knight errantry. Canadian Us are moving towards joining the NCAA(!!!).
An hour or so ago this blog linked to a Times-Picayune article that said Miles' contract wouldn't get officially done until January:
"We didn't know we were going to a national championship game," Bertman [LSU's AD] said, laughing. "We had arranged to sit down at a leisure time and fix it so it could be brought to the (LSU) Board (of Supervisors) Thursday with our bowl budget.
"Now the chancellor (Sean O'Keefe) and other board members might delay that until the next board meeting in January after the game."
This would give Michigan a faint pulse in re: arrgh get Miles. But LSU's chancellor says NSFMF:
Although LSU Athletic Director Skip Bertman said on Sunday that the contract may not be formally approved until January because of the national championship, O'Keefe said that is not true.
The contract will be ready for the LSU Board of Supervisors to approve during Thursday and Friday meetings, O'Keefe said Monday.
"We are moving this for Thursday consideration," O'Keefe said. "That's the plan. There was no other date discussed."
That would put the nail in the coffin Thursday... or would it? The buyout doesn't appear to be going up:
The only aspects O'Keefe and LSU board members are intentionally being vague on are new clauses that O'Keefe said show Miles' commitment to stay at LSU.
Miles' existing $1.25 million buyout for going to Michigan should remain untouched, O'Keefe said.
Weems called the unknown clauses "ancillary matters" and LSU board Chairman Jerry Shea referred to them as a "win-win" for LSU and Miles.
So, hypothetically, if Bill Martin got religion here he could walk in with a comparable offer and still have a shot. Obviously that's not likely.
I'm trying to decide which internet rumor is the flat-out most insane:
Miles is still in play. Yeah. Miles contract guarantees him a heap of money if he wins a national title. Now that he's got a shot at said national title, he's holding off on signing the extension he agreed to before the title game. And people say he'd be interested in the job if it was offered.
So maybe there's a chance? Well... we're dealing with three prideful men here and it will take Bill Martin getting his grovel on to do so. I think it's clear Michigan's AD just isn't that enthused about the idea of Miles, and that remains the largest hurdle.
The reason Miles couldn't get ahold of Martin on Saturday: Martin was on a sailboat. !!!
Obviously, if that's true Martin should be shot into the sun but I find that very, very doubtful.
Michigan might name Ron English an interim coach and try again in 2008. Rivals is apparently pushing this line of thought, and while they've obviously got some strong sources -- they were ahead of the pack on the Saturday disaster -- this would be the no-hyperbole worst decision in the history of coaching searches. Giving the job to English is crazy enough; giving it to him on a one-year basis is guaranteed to obliterate recruiting this year and next and will force Michigan into another awkward decision next year when Michigan goes like 8-4 and the NAACP is like "well? well?"
There would be a riot.
Alex Legion is transferring from Kentucky. Ha, just kidding, obviously this is beyond belief. Uh... this isn't a rumor.
Wildcats freshman shooting guard Alex Legion has decided to transfer, said sources close to the situation.
According to one source, the move primarily concerned Gillispie - and wasn't about playing time.
God's plan remains inscrutable for the young Legion. I actually feel bad for the kid even though his recruitment helped screw Michigan out of something like five different players (Kalin Lucas and Durrell Summers didn't want to play with him and went to MSU, he decommitted right before Patrick Beverly chose Arkansas, recommitted right before Michigan was going to offer Laval Lucas-Perry, and finally re-decommitted when Beilein came in), since his mother is clearly bats and it's hard to be anything approaching normal when your mother thinks she's a prophet.
Greg Schiano has not been contacted...
Despite multiple reports in Detroit-area newspapers that list Greg Schiano as a candidate for the vacant Michigan job, Rutgers' head coach has not been contacted by the Big Ten school, according to two people who speak regularly with Schiano. The people requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on Schiano's behalf.
...but someone just as awesome has!
At least two schools from BCS conferences -- including Michigan -- have shown preliminary interest in Ball State football coach Brady Hoke about their head coaching jobs. Hoke confirmed to The (Muncie, Ind.) Star Press during the weekend that his name has been advanced about coaching vacancies at the University of Michigan and Washington State University
This is obviously Hoke putting his name out there as a Serious Candidate for Serious Jobs and not reflective of an actual shot at the Michigan job (at least one would hope), but Jesus.
The easy answer is "we'll never know." But that's not particularly satisfying, is it?
What happened, considering Miles' earlier indications that he wanted to return home to the school he played at and was an assistant coach under Bo Schembechler?
A source close to the situation said what was always a close call was pushed the breaking point by the two-week interval between Carr's retirement and the SEC title game, and the combination of LSU's hefty contract offer and the ESPN report on game day made Miles opt to stay.
The source would not comment when asked if Carr's silence on Miles candidacy - widely interpreted as a sign of animosity between the two men and Carr's opposition to Miles succeeding him - was a factor in the decision.
...[Miles] had been in contact with Michigan through back channels for weeks. Through intermediaries, Miles' representatives and Michigan were hammering out the terms of an agreement.
Miles knew Michigan was prepared to offer a five-year deal. He knew how much money Michigan was prepared to offer. He was fine with it.
But the key word here is "prepared." Despite what you may have heard or read, this was never a done deal.
And Miles knew it.
Rosenberg's theory is that the money getting worked out was but a prelude to a job offer, not the result of one:
Martin was not going to hire a coach without an extended one-on-one interview, and he couldn't conduct that until after Saturday's SEC title game. ...
He just needed to know the Michigan job was his. And Michigan couldn't make that promise.
This is scenario A: Martin, weirdly, operates in an inverted paradigm where you work out the financial details of a contract, then interview for the job. Michigan went through the first portion of this process with Miles agent and a tentative agreement was reached on the numbers.
This explains the "done deal" stuff as soon as the Ferentz thing passed. This also explains the weird split on the information I was receiving: pro-Miles guys knew about the tentative agreement and made the reasonable assumption any sort of "interview" would be strictly PR, since a 36-6 coach who loves the university more than life itself is obviously the best man for the job. Meanwhile, guys nearer the search committee were hearing that Miles had to dance for Carr and Martin as part of a full search process that, given Carr's strident opposition to Miles' candidacy, could well end with no offer.
The source from the LSU side of things is very well connected and offers up this explanation of events from the other side:
Vincent (AD) evidentially gave Miles an ultimatum. He told Miles that if he was considering the UM job that he would be fired on the spot and not be able to coach the SEC championship game.
So Miles told his agent to work out the details with LSU for a contract extension. That's why he went on ESPN at 1:30 and sounded as though he was totally pissed off about Herbstreit. Had Kirk not said anything and ESPN not reported on the rumors, Miles may have talked to Martin yesterday.
This has been widely mongered on the internets, and though it seems far fetched -- LSU would fire the head coach on the eve of the SEC championship game? -- please consider this is the South and crazier things have happened in the SEC. Hell, Michigan fired Frieder on the eve of the NCAA tournament. It could have been a bluff, but put yourself in Miles' spot: LSU has threatened to fire you unless you agree to a contract extension. Meanwhile, Michigan refuses to assure you that you'll be offered the job and you know elements of the athletic department wouldn't piss on you if you were on fire. Do you take the risk of calling the LSU bluff and possibly finding yourself without any job?
Well, you probably call Michigan frantically to see what's going on, to give them an update of your situation, and attempt to work something out now. Which is apparently what happened. And Michigan did not respond. Thus the press conference and Miles keeping the LSU job. If you are so inclined, you can hear some bitterness in Miles' postgame press conference:
I certainly love Michigan. I love Michigan. I will always be a Michigan man. I will always root for the next head coach there. I will wear those colors when it comes down to the Ohio Michigan game. I'm going to root and pull for the Blue, and they will eventually win that game (laughter).
There's a proud tradition, and they have to do the things they have to do. I'm for them, and if there's any way I can help them, I'd love to help them. But I'm not going there. It saddens me at times. I can't be at two places.
On Saturday I wondered what an extra 500k or 1m per year would do for an already rich man, as if it was Miles' fault he wasn't coming to Michigan. I don't believe that anymore. This was a colossal screwup by Bill Martin, aided by Lloyd Carr. But they probably don't see it like that. They see it as protecting the program.
How do you not have an extended one-on-one interview with the man obviously most qualified for the job at this point? Michigan has known Carr was retiring since September, and Martin knows literally dozens of Miles' friends. Hell, John Wangler is his BFF. Call Wangler into your office, have him call Miles, and have a goddamn interview on the phone. There is no excuse for failing to hammer out whatever potential differences existed months ago. All this interview stuff is purely for show if we are operating under the assumption Martin has an IQ above 60.
We do assume that around these parts, so the inescapable conclusion: Michigan essentially passed on Miles. If Michigan really wanted Miles, Michigan would have him. That much was made clear by Miles' season-long "woo Michigan" campaign of newspaper articles and TV appearances. Hell, the week of the Ohio State game you couldn't turn on a sports talk station without hearing Miles wax poetic about Bo. Everyone near the program knew Miles wanted the job more than anything. He loves the program.
But his love is unrequited. That has a tendency to embitter people towards the object loved. When LSU made it very clear they wanted Miles, had no reservations about him, and were willing to make a hefty financial commitment to prove it, it was an easy decision. Michigan wanted him to prostrate himself. Good football coaches often being prideful, this was not likely to happen, especially with the pressures imposed by LSU and ESPN. Thus: this.
Two weeks ago, Carr retired. In his press conference he stridently declared he would have only a minimal role in the search and that the timing of his retirement would have no effect. Two weeks later, he maintains plausible deniability. But only just.
- If Michigan hires someone who fails and gets fired real quick, the Herbstreit report will be the fan equivalent of the Kennedy assassination. Who told him? Was it, as Miles suggested, "an Ohio State plot"? Miles said that in jest, but the way everything worked out could not have been better for OSU.
There are two main theories on the leak: Desmond Howard, his ESPN co-worker and a member of the search committee, and Jim Tressel. Howard obviously has a vested interest in not telling Herbstreit anything. Tressel, OTOH, is interesting: that move would be the Machiavellian genius I now, sadly, expect from Tressel whenever Michigan blunders into his path. The "AND they're getting Tenuta!!!" bit is appar
ently without even the slightest grounding in real life -- Tenuta denied having even spoken to Miles yesterday -- and implies that maybe the whole thing was just batty nonsense. Who would have the pull with Herbstreit to say "and, like, Tenuta, dude" and get it aired? (Not that Herby is complicit here; the theory is he's Tressel's dupe.)
That is totally crazy, sure. But maybe I'm a little crazy.
- Debunking myself: we assume that Herbstreit actually unearthed anything because he was the guy who said it. If you believe this, you are forced to believe that Mark May is busy unearthing all sorts of scoops. Hell, he's finding out who our next coach is right now!
Another possibility: someone else at ESPN heard it and it was put in pretty boy's mouth to make the talking heads look more credible.
- More in the Rosenberg piece:
Two people familiar with the process say Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly is not a candidate. He will not be a candidate. I don't have a specific reason, but Kelly has rubbed people the wrong way at various points in his climb up the ladder.
Great. Raise your hand if you think the 1968 version of Bo Schembechler would be even slightly considered by this set of decision makers. That's what I thought. "Rub people the wrong way"... the entire athletic department has been infected with this crap.
- List of people guaranteed not to rub anyone in this AD the wrong way: Jim Grobe, Mike Debord, Brady Hoke, Ty Willingham.
- What now? Schiano's name is getting thrown about a lot, as is Tedford, but by media folks. Given the way the search has gone so far, with Michigan high on Ferentz early (yes, I screwed up my first post about the Ferentz situation, but he was a very serious candidate), lukewarm about Miles, and apparently uninterested in Kelly, it's clear Michigan has different priorities than
It appears they're actually serious about the Lloyd clone bit... but who is that? Terrifyingly, Grobe seems the closest.
A strongly worded article on the LSU official site contains a definite drop-dead date for the whole Miles foofery:
ATLANTA -- LSU Chancellor Sean O'Keefe has reached an agreement with Les Miles on an amendment to his contract that will secure Miles' position as head football coach of the Tigers.
Miles authorized his representative, George Bass, to negotiate the terms of the contract with LSU. Terms and conditions of the contract have been agreed upon and will be presented at the next meeting of the LSU Board of Supervisors on Dec. 6.
Miles will not entertain any offer from the University of Michigan to become the Wolverines head coach or from any other institution. The University of Michigan on Wednesday requested permission to discuss its open head football coaching position with Miles.
FYI. Rumblings on the Michigan side of things are of the "this isn't over!" type... but it looks grim.
Update: Miles was just on CBS making unequivocal statements. Next candidate, please?
Miles: "There was misinformation on ESPN and I think it's imperative that I straighten it out. I'm the head coach at LSU, I will be the head coach at LSU, I have no interest in talking to anyone else. I have a championship game to play and I'm excited about the opportunity of my damn strong football team to play in it. And that's really all I'd like to say. It's unfortunate I had to address my team with this information this morning. With that being done, I think we'll be ready to play. There will be no questions for me; I represent me in this issue, please ask me after. I'm busy. Thank you very much, and have a great day."
Guy to LSU Chancellor: "Are you going to stay and answer questions?"
LSU Chancellor: "What he said."
Update: Okay, this is completely f-ing crazy, but Miles 1) didn't say he had turned the job down, 2) didn't say anything about next year and 3) hasn't signed this extension. Hell, supposedly no one has even officially contacted him.
This might not be over; the PC was clearly a FU ESPN, I have kids to think about thing.
As I said, f-ing crazy. But...
Update II: Dammit, ESPN's pushing this "it's not over!" thing on ESPN News, so it's probably wrong.
Update III: Holy crap. ESPN News: "Miles said there was misinformation ESPN; he could have just been talking about the Tenuta as DC thing." Someone get that man gold-plated kneepads!
Update IV: Video from Quo Vadiumus:
1. It's over, obvs. LSU AD said as much.
2. Martin did not talk to Miles' agent this morning.
3. Top remaining candidates: Schiano, O'Brien(?!?!?), and someone I didn't hear. No mention of Kelly or Tedford.
4. I want to die.
5. Not really.
Update: Tenuta says he hasn't even spoken to Miles:
Tenuta said Saturday he hadn't spoken with Miles and wasn't sure what was happening.
"I don't know yet. I really don't," Tenuta said after his first practice in his interim role. "There's been rumors before about me going a lot of places."
Way to go, Herbstreit!