How Not to Run a Coaching Search: a look back at 2007

How Not to Run a Coaching Search: a look back at 2007

Submitted by Alton on December 17th, 2014 at 6:54 PM

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).

Reflections on RichRod

Reflections on RichRod

Submitted by stubob on January 14th, 2011 at 2:59 PM

Today, we fire up the MGoBlog Wayback Machine and return to December 17th, 2007: a day that will live in MGoBlog infamy. Specifically, Brian's Profiles in Heroism for RichRod. I thought it would be a good idea to look back at the last coaching change and compare the attitude and opinion around the previous coach to the current one, in the hopes of calming down the "Brian Hates Hoke" meme that's sprung up.

Remember that the situation was completely opposite last time: Michigan was striking out with big names, and we were preparing for Mike Debord-equivalent promotion from within the program. For what it's worth, the history starts around page 423, with the actual news happening on p. 422.The brief overview of the situation before the RichRod news was summed up in Adrift - basically internal guys or someone totally bonkers. Even at the time Brian was railing against the status quo from the AD, and that is what's being reflected in the current Hoke posts. Then RichRod blew up from out of nowhere.

Hindsight being 20/20 and all, Brian made this prescient comment:

RichRod was preceded by a coach somewhere between very good and excellent, though by the time Rodriguez arrived West Virginia was in a bit of a rut, coming off 7-5 and 4-7 seasons.
Rodriguez did not immediately fix said rut -- West Virginia bombed its way to an ugly 3-8 year in 2001 -- but after an initial adjustment period the program ignited in two phases. Phase 1: West Virginia ... hovers at the edges of the top 25 from 2002 to 2004, winning eight or nine games and losing four or five. Phase II: The White-Slaton rocket fuel era that features 10 and 11 win seasons, BCS berths and bowl victories, and one really ill-timed thumb dislocation.

and then added the following caveat:

the Big East got a lot easier in 2004 when Miami, BC, and Virginia Tech took off for the ACC. As far as back-to-back-to-back ten win seasons go, WVU's are somewhere between LSU's and Boise's in terms of impressiveness.

But it wasn't all roses, sunshine and puppies. Brian pointed out well-known issues with recruiting:

Maybe it's unfair to tar the coach when a couple of guys he got through school turn out to be world-class knuckleheads, but the idea of a Pacman Jones or a Chris Henry at Michigan is unsettling. ... Rodriguez also availed himself of JUCOs and academic risks that might not fly at Michigan. ...Michigan likes its high graduation rates and excellent APR numbers. If those start to come down he'll catch heat.

The conclusion wrapped up thusly:

the man does not have anything approximating the current Michigan staff's outdated philosophy. ...Rodriguez is everything a Michigan fan could want in a hire; to get him after the month-long disappointment train that was the coaching search is manna from heaven.

Better that Debord? YES YES A THOUSAND TIMES YES

It certainly bears mentioning that at the time, Mallett was still on the roster, Pryor was still considering Michigan, and the QB rotation was not WalkOn/Death.

So we come here today not to bury RichRod, but to remember him. He struggled to meet the lofty expectations placed upon him by the fans, the media, and the Athletic Department. May he have future success at a program not encumbered by ghosts of the past, a rabid and bored press core, and a fanbase able to accept change (all of which snowball around each other).

If anything, the "outdated philosophy" comment is the source of whatever animosity is directed at Hoke - not at the man specifically, but what he represents. We must temper our opinions until we see the product on the field, and hopefully we can minimize the roster attrition that was a major source of our struggles for the last three years.

CC- Why was Rich Rodriguez hired and how that affects our perception.

CC- Why was Rich Rodriguez hired and how that affects our perception.

Submitted by skunk bear on December 1st, 2010 at 4:30 PM

[Ed-M: Bumped to diary 'cause it's a diary, basically, then un-bumped due to WAIT YOU WERE SRSLY?]

After reading countless posts about whether Rich Rodriguez should continue to be our football coach, it seems clear that a large percentage of the MGoCommunity believe that Rodriguez was hired to drag an antiquated football program, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.

If you believe this, then how could your reaction to the possibility of Rodriguez being fired, be anything other than: "No, you have to give him enough time to complete the transition"?.

But, is that why Rodriguez was hired? Let's review  (and please, if you followed the last coaching hire more closely than I did, or if you have inside information, correct me where I am wrong).

1) Lloyd Carr became ill. This illness drained Lloyd of energy and made Lloyd condider retiring. But, Lloyd is a battler and loved coaching Michigan football. So Lloyd stayed on. But Lloyd, who never believed in over-working players in the first place, because football should be fun, could no longer provide the attention to detail that the team needed.

Lloyd was also very loyal to his assistant coaches, some of whom became complacent. So, the program began to slide. However, Athletic Director Bill Martin loved Lloyd, in part because Martin was never a "football guy", but mostly because Lloyd was a low-maintenance coach. There was however, growing discontentment with Lloyd as coach in the Michigan football community.

Then came what we now call "The Horror" Then the Oregon blowout. Under pressure, no longer young or well, Lloyd (one way or another) retires.

2) Bill Martin expects Michigan to have its pick of top coaches and wants another low-maintenance coach, a ready for primetime coach. Martin wants someone who has already established himself as a successful head coach.

If Michigan is to go outside the present staff, Lloyd's pick is Kirk Ferentz of Iowa.Ferentz is well-respected, smart and accomplished and has assembled a fine staff. Ferentz is offered the job. Ferentz turns it down.

One coach that Lloyd Carr did not want was the favorite choice of Michigan fans, Les MIles. Miles had coached here at Michigan, with Carr, but had quickly left after Lloyd became head coach.

But, Bill Martin wants a successful, popular coach. A backchannel contact is made to Les Miles to become the next Michigan coach. What happens next is less clear, but apparently an opponent of the Miles hire leaks the news to Desmond Howard, our former Heisman trophy winner, who now works for ESPN. Kirk Herbstreit, the former OSU quarterback, also works for ESPN, gets wind of the story from Desmond and breaks the story on live national television.

Miles is about to coach LSU in the SEC title game. A victory could send two-loss LSU to the national championship game. Miles is now under enormous pressure. LSU wants to know: "Is this true?" LSU's players want to know. Miles frantically tries to contact Bill Martin. Miles wants to know: "Do I have the job?" But, Bill Martin, unaware of the leak, is literally out to sea. Martin, an avid sailor, has gone out on his boat and done so without a phone. Miles quickly agrees to a contract extension with LSU and coaches them to victory and the national championship.

Michigan is looking foolish, the Michigan brand-name is taking a hit.

Greg Schiano is a temporarily hot coach at the moment. Schiano has coached Rutgers from (b)oblivion to respectability. Anybody who could do that has to be a good coach. Michigan needs a coach. Martin offers Schiano. Schiano accepts, reluctantly. Then Schiano talks to his team and decides to stay at Rutgers. Martin is getting desperate. Martin offers Schiano again. But, still the answer is no.

Then, unexpectedly, Michigan is contacted by the agent for one of the hottest young coaches around. Rich Rodriguez has led West Viginia to three straight top ten finishes. Rodriguez is well-enough thought of to have been offered the Alabama job the year before. It's like a cold glass of water to a thirsty man. Martin and university president Coleman meet Rodriguez for a five hour meeting in Toledo, Ohio. Rich Rodriguez becomes the next Michigan coach.

 

3) My point for the MGoCommunity to consider: RR was not brought in to revolutionize Michigan football, but as an act of desperation without fully realizing what would be entailed in adjusting to Rodriguez as coach.

Those who wanted such a revolution, do not want to give it up.

Those who didn't are just appalled at the way we are playing.

And so you have a divided fanbase.

PS: This is just my second time starting a thread. My first was a meta post that got sent to some obscure place (Bolivia?) Any constructive criticism is welcome. TY

Edit: No ill intent of any kind is intended by this post. My sources for this is that I followed the coaching search as closely as I could. TV , radio , newspapers, online, and Micigan sports blogs and forums including this one. I am writing from memory. I am open to any corrections.

Dec 2- All right, at the implicit suggestion of an ex-mod, and after careful thought, I've decided to edit out the unnecessary parts that have offended some MGoBloggers. I hope this doesn't make the commentary seem too out of place. Please keep in mind that what remains is my understanding of events and that I seek correction from those more knowledgeable.