I got a pile of email, so this is really long and still leaves out a number of missives. Apologies if yours wasn't selected.
A fairly comprehensive coaching-firing email.
I got a lot, obviously. This one touches all of the bases.
I'm currently operating under the following two assumptions:
1) Brady Hoke is done unless Michigan at least wins at least the Big Ten East with wins over both rivals on the road, which currently seems about as likely as two nuclear missiles turning into a sperm whale and a bowl of petunias and one of them telling our coaching staff how to coach offensive football before they plummet to earth.
I don't think it is that cut and dried yet. If Michigan goes 7-1 in the Big Ten with a loss to MSU and ends up 9-3 and going to the Citrus Bowl or something, that is a weird way to get to what people expected before the season. I think any 8-4 record is a hard sell that might induce a decision that we all hate and 7-5 is 100% dumped. (This is not what I'd do; unless he runs the table before the OSU game I would give him the Earl Bruce pre-Game firm handshake. This is what I'm guessing the athletic director would do.)
But yeah, going 7-1 in the Big Ten seems about as likely as the bowl of petunias thing. I am thinking "oh no, not again," tho—we solved it! The bowl of petunias is a Michigan fan.
2) That Dave Brandon will make a comically inept hire of either a warmed over retread with a tenuous connection to the past (Cam Cameron!), a mediocre young coordinator with a tenuous connection to the past (Scott Loeffler!), or a flashy idiot who must be great in interviews even though he's a moron coaching a football team (Lane Kiffin!)
Given that, how long would it take to set up and execute a reasonable search committee for a new athletic director? And is there any chance at all the university leadership acts decisively to remove the fundamental problem? It seems like the answer to those questions are too long and no at the moment.
The timing is bad. Schlissel just got in and has no frame of reference, so is he going to make a serious move? Does he even care about it, or is it something that's 11d on the agenda at a random meeting? And is he going to do it now-now-now, like he'd probably have to?
The answers to these questions are probably no. I think we're stuck with Brandon. If Michigan did make a move now there are a number of obvious candidates: Jeff Long is Arkansas's AD, Brad Bates is Boston College's, Warde Manuel is UConn's.
Long hired Bobby Petrino when Petrino bugged out on the Falcons, and then replaced him with Bret Bielema. Both are impressive hires from a football perspective and odious from a "you want me to root for THIS guy?" perspective. Manuel hired Turner Gill at Buffalo, was handed interim basketball coach Kevin Ollie (who then hired himself by winning a lot), and executed a logical search when UConn replaced Paul Pasqualoni, first trying to grab Pat Narduzzi and then going with Notre Dame DC Bob Diaco.
And while we're contemplating the fundamental horror of being Notre Dame, is Hoke Davie, Willingham, or Weis? Seems to me he recruits like Weis and coaches like Willingham, which is somehow worse than either of those guys. Or at least more frustrating.
Davie. His recruiting is better than Willingham and he's not a deliberately offensive, off-putting goon. Davie was an amiable man who couldn't organize a footbaw team.
Of course the real problem is that there really doesn't seem to be an upwardly mobile candidate at the right level to actually go after. I mean obviously you'd take a shot at Sumlin, but no way A&M doesn't match that offer. Which sort of leaves you hoping the Ravens' front office semi-criminal dickishness makes John Harbaugh quit and then you hope you can outbid like 15 NFL teams who would immediately jump at the shot to hire him. Not a great situations. Only name I can maybe come up with at a realistic level is Craig Bohl, who is unfortunately 56 and in the first year of his new job at Wyoming. That juggernaut he built on North Dakota State is impressive though.
Basically I think we're doomed. Are we doomed?
It looks fairly doomy, but we were all laughing about Ohio State's coaching search when they settled on the previously-obscure Jim Tressel. There are guys out there. You mention Bohl, who I have also wikipedia-stalked to my disappointment. Michigan may as well take a run at Sumlin types, but realistically any SEC school is going to match the money, and if you're crushing it in the SEC what is the motivation to move?
There is a name out there that I think might work: Dan Mullen. He made a previously awful team competitive in the brutal SEC. Nobody's been able to win much of anything at Mississippi State in 20 years—Jackie Sherrill had one ten-win season in 1999 and was otherwise bouncing between 8 and 3 wins. The Bulldogs have gone from winning a quarter of their SEC games under Sylvester Croom to winning 42%, and they've gone to four straight bowls for the first time ever. That's a James Franklin-like resume.
Mullen grew up in Pennsylvania, so he'll have some useful recruiting contact, he's 42—good long term upside if he works out—and he was Urban Meyer's OC for Florida's run of dominance there. He just beat LSU on the road. If Mississippi State goes 9-3 or better this year he'll be a very attractive candidate.
The problem is that Florida is going to be looking as well and I have bad feels about competing with them given our current situation and Florida's proximity to bounteous talent.
[After THE JUMP: more stuff like this, and an Ondre Pipkins Q.]
Jake Fisher would have been nice.
Just read your dispirited post. Yeah, when you get older you don't mope for weeks on end (as I did forty years ago).
My biggest concern if there's a change is that the one thing Brady has done well is recruit. I'm surprised you haven't talked yet about the effect of DMW on that. Who would decommit? Who would transfer?
Transitions have costs. The severity depends on how different the incoming regime is from the outgoing one, and especially just how bad it had gotten under the last guy. Charlie Strong is booting half his team because they aren't meeting expectations. That's because Mack Brown hung on so long he was the weird uncle instead of a font of authority. A combination of something similar with Carr and the abrasiveness of a few guys on Rodriguez's staff made that transition similarly painful.
There are better transitions out there, though. There's a lot of momentum towards continuing your career instead of bugging out. For one, you have to sit out most of the time. Roster attrition would likely be a few guys who don't fit in the new coach's plans and a few guys who were going to leave anyway because they can't find the field.
Recruiting is trickier, but even there the momentum towards a school is usually enough to hold things together. When Carr retired Michigan only lost one commit, that a pocket QB who ended up at Iowa. Rodriguez's dismissal was worse as Michigan not only lost a couple kids they had committed but whiffed on various touted Southerners they were reputed to lead for. (How much that would have mattered when Clemson came calling I don't know.) Worse yet for Michigan during the second transition was the struggles Rodriguez had; Hoke had to fill ten spots in about three weeks, with poor results, and the guys already in the class were dodgy.
Michigan's situation this year is different. They have a small class entirely comprised of four star kids and a kicker that's three or four guys from being full. If Michigan does make a change at the end of the regular season they'll probably lose a couple guys, retain most of the existing class, and fill in the remainder with okay prospects they've actually had time to vet. It'll be a hit. This is a good year to make a transition from a roster standpoint, at least.
TRUST NO ONE
I know you'll be getting alot of "next coach" questions for the rest of the year, but I have a little different angle on the issue. As I'm sure you know, Travis Haney reported that there are big changes coming for the top guys at M. Gregg Henson also speculated on the same.
My question to you is how do some of these program outsiders get their sources? My general rule is to wait until MGoBlog or Sam Webb confirms something before I get excited, but the Haney thing at least sounds legit. Are your/Webb's sources different or better than the national writer sources? I want to know whose reports to take seriously.
The Haney thing doesn't read like reporting to me. It reads like a guy drawing obvious-seeming conclusions from the outside:
Quarterback Devin Gardner will be the first change for the Michigan Wolverines.
Coach Brady Hoke will be the second, and probably by December.
Athletic director Dave Brandon will be the next, and probably shortly after Hoke.
It's far from certain that Gardner is replaced, he doesn't say he's talked to anyone, he uses one canned presser quote later in the piece. File that under bloviation.
Henson does say he's got sources that claim the whole enterprise is about to get fired, so that's more interesting. I am still leery of it because as I've mentioned before I've heard the same thing—discontent, Brandon gone within a year—for a couple years now without actually seeing something come to fruition. I've heard that the Regents are against him (not that there's much question about that after the fireworks vote), I've heard that he's a hurdle to getting a true A-list guy, heard that Harbaugh loathes him,
The thing about sources is sometimes they're not right, and minds can and will change as we go along here. The key facts are the thoughts inside someone's head, and sources do not know that.
As for my process for dealing with information: it is mostly a combination of internet spidey-sense and guys who have emailed me a few times, have been correct in the past, and offer things up that they believe to be true. It is not Journalist Level Sourcing, but I try to tell you the context whenever I relay something so you can judge the information on its own merits.
In most things you should listen to Sam, because Sam is plugged in to the point where he can't say half of what he knows. You have to read between the lines sometimes because he is in a spot where his access depends on his discretion, but if you get a vibe from him there is a reason for that vibe. In this specific situation I don't know how much is going to get to him because, again, the only things to know are the ones in the murky depths of someone's brain. A lot easier to know that Desmond Morgan's hand is in a cast than what might be going on inside Brandon's head.
Regard any other sports talk radio information-type substance with extreme dubiousness. Outside of the friendly confines of WTKA, radio is worthless for news. That goes triple for some yob in East Lansing asserting that Greg Schiano is the next guy. Because he's the dude who will get the news first. Okay buddy.
Trust me because I don't ask you to trust me, and trust Sam because he's connected, and ignore all radio reports.
Here's a question for you: Why should we - the fans - care?
My fiancé and I are both alums. We have fandom endurance badges from Northwestern @ Michigan in 2009, and Michigan @ Northwestern last year. Her family has had season tickets forever. We're getting married in the Michigan Union. Last night we were talking about our plans for Saturday and I mentioned that we should figure out what time the game is. She asked me "Do we care?" Well, at this point - why should we?
The players don't seem to (just show the clip of DG getting pummeled and no one running over, contrasted with the Eagles defense of their QB) the coaches don't seem to (How about Brady's "Were a good football team" vs. Pat Fitzgerald's "No Shit") and we know the AD doesn't care about the actual product on the field or the fans ourselves - how about the announced 103,000 - not capacity. For all the talk about leadership the most fired up we've seen anyone in the two losses is Mattison and Hoke yelling at each other. We know leaders like Molk wouldn't have let DG pick himself up after a hit like that... is there any chance that this team/coaching staff/program show a sign of life? Do THEY care? Should we anymore?
When's basketball season?
I can't tell you that you should right now. It's a struggle for me to open up the video file and spreadsheet this week, let me tell you. I'm finding it hard to find the thing that Michigan stands for that I'd care about anymore, it's all buried under athletic department gaffe after athletic department gaffe and the team losing like it does. I'm not going to wave a flag for graduating kids and being a positive force in their lives for all the Chris Rock reasons you can imagine.
All I can say is that this is a community still and that membership means putting your eyes on the thing even if you don't particularly want to. It's more about your interaction with the guys you know who share your disease. It's the us, not the them. That's all I've got.
i'm sure you have and endless array of FIRE HOKE questions and HARBAUGH!!!! questions, and the like, but here's one totally unrelated and about the defense, which actually is performing quite well:
why doesn't pipkins play more? he plays well every snap he's on the field. he takes on doubles very effectively and gets good push. i can't understand why he's playing behind Mone.
He's probably not as good as Glasgow. We are talking about a team that just gave up 3.3 YPC to a rush offense that was quite good a year ago, that crushed Notre Dame's ground game, that is currently ninth in the country in YPC allowed. Glasgow's been excellent in the three games I've reviewed. Pipkins has not been as consistently impactful. He just got beat out.
Toughness deficit inherent?
We've all witnessed a severe lack of toughness, both physical and mental during the Hoke era. There's also a visible lack of passion, energy, and aggressiveness on both sides of the ball. Do you feel the recruiting profile has played a part in this? Is Michigan just not recruiting aggressive, hungry, and competitive athletes? Yeah, they're high academic kids with high talent rankings, but do the majority of them have passive personalities that show up on the field? Does Michigan's low-key, laid back family atmosphere attract kids that maybe aren't as competitive and focused on football? We've heard stories of Urban's competitive environment, and we know Franklin and Narduzzi are near maniacs. Peppers may be an exception as far as competitiveness and being a leader, but I just feel like most of our guys are "nice kids" who are more comfortable being passive in a laid back environment.
You know me: I'm more likely to cite someone for stupidity than a lack of toughness. I only bring up the toughness thing when gathering up for a super-sick burn in re: Michigan's total lack of the primary quality Hoke wants to instill.
If I believe in toughness it's an ability to keep your head on straight when put in a bad situation, which is related to intelligence and organization, two qualities Michigan is also sorely lacking. What's especially galling about Michigan throwing ten guys out for a punt and running the clock down in their "hurry-up" is that this should be a position of advantage for Michigan, what with recruiting only guys with real course work and making intelligence a priority. Instead Michigan feels like a dumb team comprised of smart guys, and that goes back to the cat-herder in chief.
All these guys are driven. You don't get to a college football field, let alone stay on one, without going through a severe winnowing process. I find it unlikely Michigan's getting only the soft kids that everyone in the country is offering.
Meanwhile, what is the stereotypically toughest program in America right now? Stanford. It's not fate that Michigan will be flouncing through daisies as long as they recruit guys who have the ability to play football and take tests.
Are you also getting the idea that Brady Hoke and Greg Mattison spend most of the practice week playing euchre?
Maybe shots at the DC that hasn't seen a team pick up three hundred yards on his defense yet are not so warranted.
Brian-Is it too late for John Bacon to write "Four and No More!" before the season is finished?
Bacon says his working title is "fourth and twelve play action," and that he's running it by Dave. (This is the least true sentence ever.)