How Close Was Greg Schiano To The Michigan Job? Comment Count

Brian July 11th, 2008 at 12:15 PM

The sexiest guy with Shrek ears on the planet.

In recent weeks we've seen two mainstream mediapersons state that Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano either had accepted or was incredibly close to accepting the Michigan job. Michael Rosenberg:

On the night of Dec. 6 - several days after the Les Miles fiasco - Martin told several people he had hired a coach. He thought he had landed Rutgers coach Greg Schiano. But the next day, Schiano turned down the Michigan job, sending Martin scurrying for another plan.

And Stewart Mandel:

And a well-informed source told me after the fact that Schiano got serious cold feet after turning down the Wolverines and tried unsuccessfully at the 11th hour to get himself back in the running.

Are these things true? If there's one thing following the coaching search taught me, it's that everything lives in some sort of limbo, neither true nor false. But we can take these as two sources. I have two more, both of which sort of agree with the mainstream sources above.

The first ended up in my inbox at 11:30 on December 6th; the source was someone in a position to know:

... got a call tonight from a person who has a friend who is a Grad Assistant for Rutgers football and he's saying that Schiano is a done deal to go to Michigan to the point where they are actually going to have an interim coach at Rutgers for the bowl game.

I was out until late and didn't check my email before going to bed; when I awoke the next morning Schiano had publicly rejected the job. The same emailer followed up, saying Schiano had done a last-second 180 after talking to his players.

It was at this point the search careened wildly, with the internet (and myself) seizing upon any vaguely viable or terrifyingly DOA candidate: Jim Grobe. Brady Hoke. Mork and/or Mindy. Eventually opportunity met something that could just barely find its ass with both hands and the Michigan-Rodriguez union was consummated in Toledo, with Elvis presiding. A couple days later I got this email:

Michigan re-offered Schiano on Saturday and he stayed up until 2am with the OC (maybe more-family?) debating on whether to take the job. When he called Michigan on Sunday morning to turn it down, they then offered Rodriguez.

I can't vouch for the emailer, but the path from Schiano to yrs truly was short and left very little room for reinterpretation.

So. Everyone on the planet thinks Schiano got a real offer from Michigan and had actually accepted it before making a last-second 180. Mainstream news accounts even have this version of events. I think this is incontrovertible. For a brief period from about 11 PM December 6th to 11 AM December 7th, Greg Schiano was Michigan's coach. Then he backed out.

I think there's plenty of evidence suggesting that the two parties tried once again to come to an agreement but failed. Mandel says that was Michigan's decision; my emailer says it was Schiano's. I know the asserted provenance of the emailer's rumor, and think there would be very little reason to dissemble in the aftermath of hiring someone else, so I lean towards Michigan making a second run and Schiano having to say no again. FWIW.

Does this matter? If you're a Michigan fan, not much. But if you're a Penn State fan scouring the nation for potential JoePa replacements I think it signals that Schiano is going to be a tough pull. He's getting a huge investment in facilities at Rutgers and is just now ramping up his recruiting. With Rodriguez out of the Big East the only thing standing in the way of Rutgers dominion is Brian Kelly at Cincinnati and maybe the Wannstache's inexplicable recruiting prowess. And he's now turned down serious Miami and Michigan offers in consecutive years. I don't know how much credence to lend the PSU internet's "Schiano dreams of State College" article of faith.

IMO, Schiano is going to be piloting a program not far removed from PSU's by the end of this year or next or whenever Paterno finally calls it quits, but he'll be doing it in a conference without 800-pound gorillas. He'll have to think long and hard about whether he should go.



July 11th, 2008 at 12:26 PM ^

good against rutgers?   How about we wait until the end of JoePa's contract, if RR struggles against him, we help influence Schiano to Rutgers.   No, wait, lets push JayPa. 


July 11th, 2008 at 12:29 PM ^

I (and a few others) disagree(d) with Brian about the attractiveness and effectiveness of a Grobe hire.  I would have been quite happy with Jim Grobe as our coach, as he is one of the best overachievers in the nation the last 3-4 years (for that matter, so is RichRod).

Grobe would have been an upgrade from Lloyd, so I was not as close to slitting my wrists as Brian was over this possibility.  But for the record, RichRod >>>>>> Grobe.

Ali G Bomaye

July 11th, 2008 at 12:34 PM ^

I don't see why Schiano would leave... there's no reason why he can't build Rutgers into a national power. There's no significant D-1 school between Maryland and Boston College, so a ton of HS players could consider Rutgers their home school. If they challenge for the Big East title for the next 3-4 years, they could be contenders for a generation.


July 11th, 2008 at 1:03 PM ^

As a member of the Grobe mafia lead by Mr. Simmons, I have to sa y that I was not terrified of him by any stretch, but he was my leader among a crowd of people who made me want to kill myself. I was also in the crowd who believed Rodriguez was an impossibility, so there's that for my future telling abilities.

Ninja Football

July 11th, 2008 at 1:06 PM ^

I really don't know how this could've worked out any better in our favor. When you look at OSU, the Vest was what- their 5th or 6th choice? I think Rod will prove to be an even better hire. As for Schiano, it seems to me the fact that Schiano gave US that much thought would be encouraging. After all he has a history with PSU, and if he's gonna leave that's the one place he'd go. I'd give it 50/50 he ends up there, even with all the logical reasons he should stay at Rutgers. And if he does- watch out. Rodriguez may very well cure this giant of narcolepsy, but if Schiano can wreste Penn State from the coma it's been in a lot changes in a hurry.

turbo cool

July 11th, 2008 at 1:32 PM ^

ninja, spot on. although we have no factual evidence that richrod is a better coach for us than Schiano at this point, I feel pretty confident in richrod. I mean, Schiano, ANYONE can win in the Big East, errrr. But seriously, although it is premature to make a  judgement call on this, I would much rather have richrod at the helm than Schiano.


as for grobe, hoke, blaha blah blah, I can't say any of them really scared only because i had faith that Martin wouldn't hire such a jerkoff. on the outset of things it may seem as if Martin is the man in control in the AD, but inside, it's a bit of a different story. yeah, a lot michigan fans have criticized martin but many of people in the michigan program strongly doubted Martin being a success, and some still do. there's no way he'd still be the AD if he made that hire. 


July 11th, 2008 at 1:12 PM ^

IMO, Schiano's the type where he's not going to play Michigan to leverage his current situation.

Tom Luicci is probably the most connected media person there is into Rutgers football. Here is his account of what actually happened, following up on this post.

In the end, the situation probably worked out well for both sides. Michigan got their man in Rich Rodriguez. I didn't think Schiano was a particularly good fit at Michigan, nor do I think that there's much a chance that he will go to Penn State, despite the baseless speculation of Mandel and PSU fans.

It's interesting though that you chose this date to write about this story, given that some continuing fundraising issues for the Rutgers Stadium expansion have just popped up.


July 11th, 2008 at 1:29 PM ^

I might get killed for this, but, I would've rather had Kirk Ferentz over Greg Schiano. There was some speculation a few weeks ago that if and when Joe Paterno retires, quite possibly after this season, that PSU will most likely hire from within. Schiano had better succeed at Rutgers now that the stakes have been raised. He's turned down 2 premier jobs the last two offseasons (Michigan & Miami). He'll never even get a sniff from another top 25 program if he struggles at Rutgers from here on out.

turbo cool

July 11th, 2008 at 1:54 PM ^

schiano seriously fucked himself. that is if he is planning on leaving shit new jersey anytime soon. but by the same token, kirk ferentz is STILL being linked with top jobs although he is so-so mediocre at best. and on a side note, i don't know why penn state is such a great gig. has anyone here been to happy valley? the place BLOWS.


July 11th, 2008 at 6:40 PM ^

Pennsylvania is a midwestern(ish)/mid-Atlantic recruiting gold mine, that's why PSU is a pretty good gig. There are a ton of talented players (which UM has benefitted from) and the only other school in the state is Pitt, who plays in a less glamorous conference. That's why Wannastache can be Wannastache and still get so many good players to come to Pitt, a lot of talent. Plus the whole tradition stuff they have going on (plain ass jerseys, huge stadium, solid fan base, statue of old guy, etc.) is appealing.

El Wolverino

July 11th, 2008 at 1:36 PM ^

One X-Factor might be that Schiano has coached under Joe Pa at some point. He might want to return to PSU. However, we all know how it worked out in Les Miles case. USF/Pitt/Cincinnati path to MNC is easier than OSU/Michigan/Wisc ( though you get two years off against Michigan )


July 11th, 2008 at 1:41 PM ^

Take it as you will, Wake forest fans were terrified that Michigan would talk to Grobe. The rest of the ACC fans were excited that his name came up for the Michigan Job. The guy will either take a big time job in the next 5 years, or will lead wake forest to the top of the ACC as a yearly power


July 11th, 2008 at 1:53 PM ^

gsimmons, you and I were big fans of Grobe, but I have to wonder if Grobe is going to be offered a job anywhere from now on.  He's getting a little long in the tooth, and I have to imagine his window of opportunity is closing fast.  If you're a program aspiring to Top 25 or greater heights with a coach that will be gonzo in the next year or so (e.g. Arizona), why would you voluntarily bring someone on that will most likely retire within the next 7-10 years?

I think it's more likely that he'll just continue to stay at or near the top of the ACC every year.  I doubt he's going anywhere, given his age.

The Barking Sp…

July 11th, 2008 at 1:41 PM ^

Dude, it's fucking Rutgers. 7-5 and he's golden. And by the by, I hope RichRod doesn't forget about New Jersey as a recruiting ground. I know the Scout Neurotics are all about being in the top ten on alot of guys from Florida or Mississippi, but so far, they aren't exactly packing up their snowshoes and headed north in droves.


July 11th, 2008 at 1:59 PM ^

...I think it will be plainly evident that Michigan hired the single best person for the job, BAR NONE. Better than Carroll, better than Miles, better than Spurrier, or Brown. I think Carroll's personality lends itself to the SoCal atmosphere. I don't think Carroll could recreate that same atmosphere in the relatively dreary, overcast Upper Mid-West. RR's blue coller, hard-scrabble background plays well to the Mid-West, which will always be his recruiting bedrock (even if he does manage to pluck a lot of Florida kids). I think a few years from now Michigan will be like USC or OSU: they'll be losing zero, one, or two games a season as the norm. The days of losing 2, 3, or 4 games a year will be gone for quite a while. And the fact that HE called Martin only means that Bill, as a young man, must've had a horseshoe surgically implanted up his ass.


July 11th, 2008 at 2:19 PM ^

When was the last time Michigan finished with:

1.  A bowl win, and;

2.  Two or fewer losses?

I believe 1999(!) is the answer.  The requirement that Michigan win the bowl game may seem like an arbitrary way to throw out 2006, but in order for a 2 loss season to be considered a "success" that generates "momentum" yada yada, it does need to end on a high note, IMO.

Michigan has been a perennial 4 loss program for far too long, and I look forward to seeing this sleeping giant awaken.  10-2 should be the average, not the outlier.

Drowning Man

July 11th, 2008 at 3:08 PM ^

Since Bo took over, how many times has UM finished with 2 or fewer losses and a bowl win?

Answer: 5: 1999, 1997, 1993 (3 ties), 1988 (2 losses+1 tie), 1985. That's 40 years of football and 5 "successful" seasons.

I hope, as you do, that we go 10-2 on average, but the facts are the facts. We've never been a 10-2 team (or 9-2, or 10-1 or whatever...since 1977 we average 9-3 independent of the coach), we've never won bowl games (losing record under Bo), we've never beat the best teams with regularity (losing record vs. .750 teams under Bo, Mo, and LC) and we've never consistently competed for national titles (another quiz--how many undefeated/untied Septembers did we have in the 20 years before Carr arrived? 5 (the same number we had in the 13 years after he arrived).

So, when you say we are a sleeping giant, just know that we've been sleeping for a very long time. I would go so far as to say that Michigan's status as a "giant" is entirely the result of consistent 9-3 seasons as opposed to occasional spectacular performance (on this, see Miami: NC, probation, NC, destruction).

Do I hope Rich makes us consistently spectacular? Absolutely. But a USC-style run wouldn't be a return to the glory of the Bo years, it would be uncharted territory for Michigan football.


July 11th, 2008 at 3:15 PM ^

but I obviously should have.  I guess I've always felt the Bo years were the proper ideal/norm for Michigan, with 10+ wins and conference championships, but you rightly point out that Bo couldn't win the Rose Bowl to save his fucking life.

I'm just tired of the 3-4 loss seasons that were the inevitable results of Mo and Lloyd and feel that Michigan is naturally a 10-2 program.  But as you point out, the fact of the matter is that an average of 10-2 is, historically speaking, an unrealistic expectation and is uncharted territory for U-M.

+10 to you for keeping it real.

Drowning Man

July 11th, 2008 at 3:30 PM ^

Unfortunately, I spent plenty of new year's days in the late 1970s and early 1980s the same way I spent them in 2004, 2005, and 2007. We were indeed a Big 10 powerhouse in the early 1970s, but not really a national force.

It will be cool to see RR try to take us to new heights (actually, it will only be cool to see us reach those heights, but it will be fun to watch the new Michigan no matter what).

Go Blue. 

Mike at BSD

July 11th, 2008 at 2:03 PM ^

The interesting side story to all the Schiano to PSU rumors are the multiple reports from recruits saying the PSU coaching staff is assuring them Joe's successor will come from the current staff.


July 11th, 2008 at 2:47 PM ^

What's the PSU cognizati's impression of Bradley?  Would it be the rough equivalent of U-M hiring Ron English.  A decent recruiter that would be an underwhelming choice, but not a total disaster.

Blue Durham

July 11th, 2008 at 4:13 PM ^

Mike, I recognized that myself, but I suspect that the recruits are being "told" that to ease their minds.  And by told, I don't mean being lied to, but done in such a way as for the recruits to conclude that it will [likely] be an internal hire.  And over time, situations change (hey, kind of like what losing to App. State does) and then all bets are off.

I do not at all discount that PSU will pursue Shiano when JoPa retires.


July 11th, 2008 at 2:13 PM ^

For all the dick slobbering that Rich Rod gets for turning WVU into what it is, WVU has a minor, occasional, history of being good at football. Wake Forest is fucking Wake Forest, with the tie-dye basketball crowd and a mascot that looks like a Civil War general on meth. I'm not trying to say Rich Rod < Grobe, because believe me I'm 100000% for Rich Rod, but I don't know how Grobe managed to get lumped into this "nightmare" category by so many during the search. I mean, it's fucking Wake Forest. Wake fucking Forest.


July 11th, 2008 at 2:30 PM ^

The stern, jawsetted look of Grobe, combined with his less-than-ideal age made some people think Grobe = Lloyd-5yrs.  Brian was guilty of this, IMO.

Brian and others couldn't look past his "look" and grasp the fact that Wake Forest is Wake fucking FOREST!, and thus any success there was a sign of a good coach.  The consistent success that Grobe has brought to Wake Forest is IMO a sign that he is a great coach.  Sadly, we'll probably never know for sure how good Grobe is, because Wake Forest is still Wake fucking FOREST! and he'll never have enough talent to get over the hump and become a powerhouse.


July 11th, 2008 at 2:44 PM ^

I was down on Grobe for a lot of reasons:

  • Age. At 56 he's probably winding down in terms of energy level and your upside is limited.
  • Recruiting ability. I don't have much evidence for or against him, but again: age, and he's never brought in anyone notable at Wake. It's Wake, sure, but that was a major uncertainty.
  • His ACC championship year was pretty overrated. Play that season again and they're probably 7-5 or something.


July 11th, 2008 at 2:51 PM ^

Those are good points, and all are reasons why RR is a much better pick. The age thing was disconcerting.

As far as the ACC title season goes, I get that the team was pretty lucky that year. But they came back again and had a solid season, and to me Wake Forest is anything but a major university in terms of football. There's no reason they should be good at football. None. And he made them competitive, so that's an accomplishment. I expected Wake to be good around the same time Duke was good. 


July 11th, 2008 at 3:02 PM ^

My big hope for our next coach was what we now know as the "Silver Spoon, Coal Spoon" theory of coaches.  There are coaches out there who believe in "execution" as the panacea to winning, and there are coaches out there who believe in using any and all tools available to win, not just through "out-executing" the other guy but up to and including aggressive, deceptive playcalling.  I felt that the only way we were going to upgrade from Lloyd was if we switched from an Executor to a Scrabbler.  Grobe, IMO, is a Scrabbler.

Definitely there was uncertainty and risk attached to Grobe, which you very neatly pointed out at the time and again in your comment.  But considering the context in which we were dealing with the possibility of Grobe (Miles gone, Martin clueless, Hoke/Ferentz/MyGodDebord! as serious possibilities), Grobe would've been as close to an optimal outcome as we could have expected.  The luck of Rodriguez falling into our lap aside, there were no realistic alternatives that were better than him, IMO.

Given that, I always felt that your evaluation of him was a little too harsh.


July 11th, 2008 at 3:24 PM ^

I didn't think Grobe was a long term, return to dominance type of candidate that RR could be.

My vision of Grobe was a capable coach, Solich-esque if you will, that could keep steady in the 8-9-10 range for a few years before we could make a grand slam hire of the new hotness. Which is, admittedly, a gamble, but one that seemed a lot better than forcing ourselves to believe Hoke could be the new hotness. 


July 11th, 2008 at 2:39 PM ^

Actually, the fanbase is not happy at all about going 8-5 last year vs. a so-so schedule. Not enough to fire him or even make the seat hot, but several losses were directly attributable to poor preparation and terrible S/T play. Schiano is definitely the right man for the job, but Brian's profile of him, and some of the other stuff I've read from non-RU fans have glossed over his many flaws.


July 11th, 2008 at 2:41 PM ^

Would any of you say you preferred Schiano to RR? I know it may be hard to do now, because RR is now the guy, but I remember when the reports started to come out that Schiano was going to be the coach. I had to literally work hard to get myself excited for the hire. I was a bit lukewarm on it, but eventually came around to the idea just as we were told he was not going to be our coach. I am much happier to have RR as the coach. I was immediately excited and shocked when his name surfaced. (As Chris Matthews would say, I felt a tingle go up my leg...)


July 11th, 2008 at 3:06 PM ^

for me, 'meh' was magnitudes better than the 'God no we're fucked!' feelings I had for the other alternatives that were being bandied about (e.g. Ferentz, Hoke).  I would have been fine with Schiano, considering the other abysses that we were considering jumping into...


July 11th, 2008 at 2:42 PM ^

I'm not sure what this says about any possible Schiano-PSU move down the road. I remember some PSU guy claiming last winter that "Godfather Joe" (his words) warned Schiano not to take the Michigan job. Of course, it's possible the guy was just making it up.

I do agree that he's got a great thing going at Rutgers. He's a living divinity there as long as he stays. And it's the only school in a fairly talent-rich state, so it's really not a bad setup.


July 11th, 2008 at 3:02 PM ^

A big part of my belief in RR, and what sets him apart in my eyes, is that he worked wonders at TULANE, then made Clemson an offensive juggernaut with Dantzler, then WVU. If RR's resume just had "a few great years with Pat "4.3 40" White, then I'd be much more skeptical. But it was Tulane. Then Clemson. Then WVU. = SOLD.


July 11th, 2008 at 3:12 PM ^

I agree with the theme of your post. Great stuff. My only quibble would be that Michigan did chart those dominant waters under Yost and Crisler. One can say that was so long ago it doesn't "count" but most die-hard Michigan fans do consider the Yost and Crisler years important and integral to what makes our program very special.

Drowning Man

July 11th, 2008 at 5:32 PM ^

I would never say those guys don't count, and as someone who was raised on Michigan football, I have what I think is proper reverence for Michigan's football history. At the same time, those records were compiled in the dark ages of college football before things like current conference affiliations, regular post-season bowl links, TV, national recruiting, etc. etc. They are important in making Michigan what it is, but they aren't important in determining expectations for Rodriguez.

If RR can win between 75-80% of his games (for reference purposes, the 5 best major conference teams since 2000 are between 78-85%) and consistently win games against rivals and high-quality opponents (let's say, at least 55% of those), then he will be a *great* coach.


July 11th, 2008 at 3:25 PM ^

now the norm, I think averaging 10 wins a season is a fairly realistic goal once RR's program is up to speed. Averaging 10-3 is a .769 winning percentage. I believe Carr was right at .750 over his 13-year span.


July 11th, 2008 at 4:10 PM ^

along with a .500 record against OSU and in the bowls.  But as has been pointed out, that would actually be uncharted territory for M, and would represent a significant spike up from historical performance.

Perhaps I'm not being realistic in asking for 10-2 regular seasons and .500 against OSU and in the bowls, but I still firmly believe that should be the expectation.


July 11th, 2008 at 3:36 PM ^

It's not quite true to say we've never done well in bowl games. Bo went 0-7 in bowls in the '70s, and everyone remembers that. But he was 5-5 in bowls in the '80s, and then Moeller went 4-1. Then Carr went 6-7. So since 1980 we're 15-13. Given that bowls are supposed to match up two comparable teams, that's respectable.