I GIVE UP ON HATING WISCONSIN
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?
Oh, hell. Even thinking about the most recent North Dakota game has been the mental equivalent of touching a hot stove but the thing must be confronted and slain, and then we can move on.
THE STEAMING HORROR OF THE THING ITSELF
Penalties. I spent most of the game cursing out the referee in a wild, confused rage. It was the perfect storm of crappy college hockey officiating, featuring all the Save The Children penalties available: weak roughing calls when a forearm got too high and the like. My favorite was the linesman-called penalty on Hunwick that the referee had stared directly at and decided not to call. The crack production crew didn't even show us replays of many off-screen calls, so I have no idea how mincing the particular application of the rules was in this particular instance.
What I do know is that you have to be a very special kind of asshole indeed to give a player a ten minute misconduct in the third period of an NCAA tournament game. Yeah, TJ probably said something, but his recollection is as follows:
"The ref was chirping at me more than I was chirping at him," Hensick said. "I don't want to get anybody in trouble. I didn't really say much to him except at the end when I was getting sick of hearing what he was saying."
Unless Hensick threatened something truly vile, and that doesn't seem to be the case, the ref was way out of line. But I can't say I was even a little bit surprised. College hockey referees are too often determined to make themselves the show.
Stupidity. Standard college hockey reffing bitch aside, there were some completely inexcusable penalties Michigan took. The standout was Brandon Naurato highsticking a guy to the ice after play had stopped. I hesitate to criticize Red Berenson for a lot of reasons -- built the program with his bare hands, could kill me with his glare alone, etc. -- but Michigan has been a stupid, undisciplined team for a while now. This year's surfeit of unnecessary penalties and awful turnovers was the worst it's ever gotten. If Berenson was Tommy Amaker he'd be getting roasted for never teaching Matt Hunwick when to pinch (never, if you're Hunwick) and when not to (always). He was the captain and he symbolized the team: indisputably skilled but dumb as hell.
Even though the referee was obviously an enormous tool, Michigan should have been able to adjust to that and keep their arms down when they went in for a check.
Sauer. Undid a half-season's worth of goodwill in 30 minutes. Was sold out on a few goals but gave up some howlers. The Oshie wraparound was a weak shot that went between Sauer's arm and his body. The Bina goal was a an unscreened snap shot from the blue line. Oshie's second goal was shot from behind the goal line and bounced off him before going into the net. A couple other goals were savable, if tough. The difference in the game came halfway through when UND's own horrible goalie briefly turned into Patrick Roy and shut Michigan down. Probably the second worst game of his career (the Notre Dame game in which he gave up a laugher from the blue line on the first shot of the game is still the king tuna) and the worst time to have it. I doubt we see much of Bryan Hogan, as Red's proven it takes a crowbar to separate him from his starting goalie, but God I hope he's for real.
- TJ. Obviously a huge blow. Kevin Porter, if he returns, is going to see his points fall off a cliff.
- David Rohlfs. Shockingly effective at forward after two seasons pressed into duty as a mediocre but safe defenseman. Provided a power presence in the corners totally lacking elsewhere on the team except on certain nights when the third line was going. Lack of an equivalent senior on next year's team will be a smallish problem, but the three junior grinders below will probably pick up most of the slack.
- Jack. Two years was all we could expect, really.
- Hunwick. As noted above: a skilled player but one prone to mental breakdowns. Hard to believe he actually warranted the CCHA's defensive defenseman award, as by my count he was only the third best defensive defenseman on his team. Will miss his minutes because of the huge turnover Michigan is experiencing but won't miss all the odd-man rushes and breakaways that were his fault.
- Cook and Dest. Functional by the end of their careers. Also will be missed. Though it's likely the incoming freshmen will easily match their talent level, these guys were unlikely to turn the puck over in inopportune places. It's unlikely we'll be able to say the same for their replacements.
Kevin Porter. I personally doubt he returns. The Coyotes will want to sign him after his big year -- the alternative is to wait and risk losing him for nothing if Porter wants to shop himself around after his senior year -- and Porter might be wise to take a grab at a signing bonus now, as I can't envision his points going anywhere but south when he's not playing with the best passer in recent Michigan history.
Chad Kolarik. Supposedly a good bet to return. Needs to work on his defensive game and learn that it's okay to pass the puck once in a while. Could go if he gets offered one of those "don't walk" contracts, but I don't think anyone in the NHL saw Kolarik play last year and saw a surefire NHLer.
Mark Mitera. No read on him. Had a disappointing year between last year's and this year's WJCs and ended up not making this year's team, but also had a ridiculous dozen-or-so-game streak in which opponents did not score when he was on the ice. A first rounder of Anahiem's a couple years ago, is certainly a threat to get signed. Would be a devastating loss, leaving Michigan with Kampfer and a hastily re-switched Summers as the only returning defensemen. A lock to play Jack minutes if he returns.
Andrew Cogliano. Oiler fans, once confident that Cogliano would return to school next year, have changed their tune and I'm leery. One of those guys who swore up and down he'd be here for four years upon arrival; those guys have a zero percent accuracy rate about their own futures to date. Obvious top-line center and centerpiece of the powerplay if he returns. Working against this: Edmonton has acquired an AHL affiliate and needs to stock it. Working for it: the trades of Chris Pronger and Ryan Smyth have garnered a bounty of picks and prospects and Edmonton may put Cogliano on the back burner for a year.
Lebler, Miller, Naurato, Turnbull. All quality players that aren't ever going to be stars. Lebler will be a sophomore, the rest juniors. With the incoming class consisting of a lot of smallish offensive centers, are likely to find themselves as Rohlfs-esque wingers on scoring lines, especially if Cogliano's back. A key part of next season will be finding someone on this crew capable of playing on the top line.
Summers. Was a bit of a nightmare at defense, plagued by turnovers and bad decisions. Was far more effective at forward. Unfortunately, Michigan is unlikely to have the luxury of playing him there without Johnson's return.
Fardig. An effective fourth-liner and penalty-killer, but will be in tough for playing time if Porter, Cogliano, and Kolarik return. Six forwards come in this recruiting class and at this moment only two are outgoing. Has dabbled on defense both for the NTDP and at Michigan and may get moved if there's a surplus at forward.
Ciraulo. Has likely seen the most playing time he's ever going to, but became a fiesty little c
ontributor on the fourth line by year's end. Will probably see Charlie Henderson minutes from here on out.
THE GREAT WIDE OPEN
For two years Michigan has been the same team, a top heavy array of scorers with prone to stupid faith-shattering breakdowns and shaky goaltending. This has been good for not much: first-round exits in the NCAA tournament and watching other teams raise CCHA and GLI banners. In a sense, the departure of the defensemen and TJ is a relief. The team next year might be terrible. It might be fantastic. But it will definitely be different.
Sometime soon: a recruiting class breakdown.