Searchbits VIII: There Is No Carr Illuminati

Submitted by Brian on December 5th, 2014 at 10:49 AM

PULL THE STRINGS. There was another round of echo-chamber Carrspiracy stuff on the various message boards over the past couple days. No idea why, unless Brian Griese expressing his opinion that he wouldn't go after Harbaugh is reason to envision Carr as a puppet master cackling behind the scenes. For the nth time, Carr is a civilian who only talks to the athletic department when they call him up. That is not frequently.

And then there's this, via Craig Ross by way of Sam Webb:

“I am not involved in the coaching search in any direct way,” Carr said.  “However, I have been asked my opinion. My opinion was Jim Harbaugh would be my number one choice.”

This take was replicated at the News a bit later; 247 also freed up an article from a couple weeks ago in which they described what was going down between Carr and Harbaugh:

We've confirmed with a few different sources that any animosities between former Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr and Harbaugh have been mended, and very recently. Carr's influence at this point is unknown, but it's believed he had a hand in the hiring of Brady Hoke during the last coaching search, and there's been a history of a tenuous relationship between the two since Harbaugh's comments about Michigan football and academics when he coached at Stanford. This is mostly important in the idea that there's no doubt Harbaugh will be Michigan's top target when the job opens up, and it's looking more and more like it will be a full group effort with all the oars rowing in the same direction. That makes this likely coaching search different than the last two already.

Even that bit about "having a hand" in the last search conflicts with my information, in which Carr was asked if he thought Brady was a good dude and said yes because everyone says yes to that question.

Carr is not interested in machinations. Michigan might be better off if he was—if he was inclined to call his guys up and get them to toe the line. But that's not who he is, for better or worse. I look forward to my next item pointlessly begging the internet to stop it with the Carrmason stuff. Y'all should get a pool going. I've got two hours ago.

TIMEFRAMES. Hackett met with the players yesterday and told them they'd have a new coach within a month:

"He wasn't overly specific," one person said. "But he mentioned that in all likelihood the whole situation will be resolved before the players return from their Christmas break."

That would be the start of the new semester on January 4th, a timeline long enough to resolve the Harbaugh issue. Or it could happen any time before that.


HARBAUGH HARBAUGH HARBAUGH. Zero clarity. Sam threw some cold water on the idea($), citing a couple of sources who think it's going to be tougher than they previously thought. His best guess is still Harbaugh, FWIW. Those are gentlemen who have talked to Harbaugh directly, so I would take that seriously. Gregg Henson, who's been beating the ITSHAPPENING.gif drum harder than anyone for a solid month now, is also walking his position back a bit.

On the other hand, Rivals is emitting the kind of ambiguously encouraging bits that have little information content—they're enough to get people in frenzy mode but  laden with plausible deniability. There was poll on their board about what people would do in the event of a Harbaugh hire; it was heavy on the wink-wink with "but it's still a coinflip" attached. That link above is to a "you're gonna like Jim Hackett!" tweet. I mean… cumong, man.

If Harbaugh doesn't end up at M a ton of people are going to be pissed at them and they'll blame the people who are praising them to the heavens now, just like they strenuously denied that Harbaugh and Brandon had a problem working together until the instant Brandon left.

But that's none of my business.

The upshot here: Sam's hearing stuff that we don't want to hear, Henson is still pretty gung ho but hearing some things that give him pause, and Rivals is on the optimistic side. 247 has not ventured anything($) resembling a "probably" or "probably not," which is where I'm at, too: at this point it feels like Harbaugh's yes or no is about which neurons fire in his brain at the critical moment.

Meanwhile, Wojo details why things might go better this time:

Interim athletic director Jim Hackett knows it can't be cursory, which was the case four years ago. Dave Brandon didn't want to play the wooing game and cede control. But now Michigan football sits at another dangerous juncture, and while Harbaugh isn't the only prime candidate, he's the first and best one, an instant infusion of energy and credibility. And I doubt he'd use his alma mater simply to get a better deal elsewhere. I think he'd tell Michigan if he weren't interested, and he hasn't done that yet.

Wojo's "sense" is that Michigan would pay in the Urban Meyer range, which is kind of close to the Godfather offer reports.

STOOPS STOOPS STOOPS. Also zero clarity, with plenty of people saying there's no way and plenty of other people saying that this might be a point at which a mutual separation from Oklahoma makes sense.

I personally doubt it's feasible because of the Florida search, but as I mentioned in the comments of the Mullen PIH "Jeremy Foley is not good at his job" is a reasonable explanation for a lot of Florida's actions over the last five years, so it is possible that they just overlooked the possibility. Also, Stoops has a game this weekend and may be evaluating his situation more closely afterward.

Stoops's justifiably pissy reaction to the "ARE U JOB X" question sticks out, though. Chatter is just chatter.

ON THE RADAR. A group of guys appear to be filling out the B list:

  • JIM MORA, UCLA. Sam Webb broached his name in an article, and now Cowherd's chattering about a secret Michigan candidate who is thankfully not Greg Schiano. Cowherd is based in LA and would have more reason to know about a guy in LA; I've also gotten a little chatter to that effect. Former M OL Courtney Morgan is on Mora's staff, so he could be a point of contact. Sam also points out that Mora and Mike DeBord were on the same Seahawks staff($) five or so years ago.
  • KYLE WHITTINGHAM, UTAH. Wittingham's well-known to the Michigan brass after multiple encounters with him in the recent past and has a solid resume. Poachability is a bit of an issue, and Utah had a rough transition to the Pac-12, but he's a solid option Sam says is getting some chatter from the West.
  • DAN MULLEN, MSU. Sam says that "surprisingly enough," Mullen is getting attention. That this would be surprising bothers me, but there it is.
  • STEVE ADDAZIO, BC. I hate this idea but it has enough chatter that someone somewhere clearly has him on the list. Again, Addazio is 55 and is coming off consecutive seven-win seasons at BC; he was the disastrous follow-up to Mullen as Florida OC. He makes no sense unless Mullen is off the table.
    Butch Jones is seemingly also a person of interest, but with Tennessee preparing to give him an extension after a 6-6 year when he's got four years left on his contract it looks like the Vols are trying to block interest before it gets started. Carr also pumped up Art Briles to Craig Ross when they talked, which is pretty interesting. Unfortunately you have to figure that if Briles wanted to leave Waco he'd be the guy at Texas right now.

OKAY THEN. Someone asked Teryl Austin about the Michigan job, and this is an actual-denial denial:

But Austin says he has no interest in pursuing the Wolverines' head coaching position, which opened after the firing of Brady Hoke earlier this week.

"No," he said. "I'm interested in this (Lions) job."

Michigan going after someone in his first successful season as a coordinator (and second overall) was a monster longshot anyway.

SORRY, THAT'S NOT ALL OF US. Local New Orleans reporter on the Sean Payton loves hotdogs thing:

Rivals broadened their hot board in response… by adding Mike Tomlin and Josh McDaniels.

Etc.: Local columnist Sharpin' it by yelling at Les Miles to take the job. Thamel says the pace will be "deliberate," which I'm suddenly very much in favor of after the Florida/Nebraska searches.



December 5th, 2014 at 11:24 AM ^

Ive been around here long enough to feel like I should know this already but does Craig Ross post here and if so under what name? Please point and laugh if he uses something as obvious as "Craig Ross".




December 5th, 2014 at 12:13 PM ^

Hi Itself:

   I am an occasional poster who lost a lot of points for some reason at some time. Last time I made a major post the AD was all over me, so I try to be careful.  I write occasional pieces for the Ann Arbor Observer, HTTV (and now and again for Sam Webb) and just finished a book on UM football. Since these things are just "fun," my day jobs tend to push me to the limits of my time.

 Brian and Sam (and Ira Weintraub) have been kind enough to let me play a periodic Gabby Hayes on the radio with Brian. Brian is the sane and reasonable one on the round table. Not that Ed Feng isn't, his love for David Shaw aside.

  That's it, that's the list.

   I am in the AA phone book, too. The new one is in, I have been told.

Craig Ross



December 5th, 2014 at 1:25 PM ^

You're showing your age with that reference. I bet I'm the only one here who isn't scratching his head and thinking, "huh, never heard of him before... is he a coach in the Mountain West?"


December 5th, 2014 at 4:24 PM ^

Thanks Craig.

Despite my general disdain for sports talk radio Ive found myself a regular listener to the round table and really appreciate what you bring to it. You make frequent references to this site on air but I wasnt sure if Id ever seen you post content.

Thanks for responding and enjoy Hawaii.

(also really like Don from Ann Arbor's input to the round table as well)


December 5th, 2014 at 12:14 PM ^

I, on the other hand, am in a unique spot.  I am in my last week of my current job this week and I'm mentally checked out.  Therefore, I can live in MGoBlog.  Next week, my first week of the new job, will be spent primarily in my home office getting HR paperwork done, IT stuff set up, etc. and I'll be able to spend lots of time online.  

Then the next week I leave for training where I will have very little time to spend checking this stuff and I need to actually focus on learning interventional urology.  So if we could have this all wrapped up by then, that would be great.


December 5th, 2014 at 11:10 AM ^

If Whittingham is "gettable" I'd love him as a plan B candidate.  Defense and special teams are fantastic at utah with a bunch of 2/3 star players.  Main issue with him is finding the right OC and a QB.  But I had never taken him as a serious candidate because of the run TN made at him and his rejection, and being from Utah/Mormon etc.  Head to head v Patterson during their eras in the MWC Patterson generally did better but Patterson appears to be an immovable object.  If Whitingham is more pliable to move it would be a big upgrade. 

I'd probably be the only one who would want him over the flash of Mora Jr.  He is the non flashy type that would just get it done.  Marry him with a top end OC and I'd be more than content if Jimbo Hail Mary doesnt work.  Age is ok at 55 (Patterson 54)  Main issue with Whittingham is bad geography - he is a Central Time Zone man through and through.  But that is not stopping Gary Anderson from being successful. 

Also he coached for Urban so you'd have some fun "student vs master" stuff going on, even as Urban is younger.


December 5th, 2014 at 12:10 PM ^

His whole original post was the critique.  We are just looking at the same data with 2 different interpretations.  I think Brian's support is more of a "of realistic available coaches this is my guy."

Think Mullen is a good not great coach - we need a top 15 coach in the nation here IMO to compete with top 15 coaches at MSU and OSU.   I could be dead wrong and Mullen shows he is one of those in the next 3 years by sustaining MSU.  Will gladly eat crow.  But at this moment today on Dec 5, 2014 I don't see the success early in a program (by early I mean first 4 years) other elite coaches show time and time again. 

Maybe he just had a much bigger rebuild job but my main qualm remains the same - RichRod found 2 viable QBs (one a headcase) within 12 months of the job.  You need a QB to win - for a guy renown for developing (if you believe it was him and not Meyer) QBs Mullen wasnt able to find one in 5 years. 

My other question is Nebraska.  They have the QB, and system set up as a red carpet for Mullen to walk into and run from day 1.  No transition costs like UM has.  Why did they not make a serious run at Mullen?  Mike Riley over Mullen? I will excuse UF for not making a run at him becase Foley puts his personal pride ahead of other decisions it seems but the fact neither of the other 2 progams even seemed to make a try for this "hot" candidate should raise questions.  Especially when they had less transition costs on offense than we do.


December 5th, 2014 at 6:57 PM ^

and how this sets up. Four or five really solid coaches would appear to be within reach.

The idea that Brandon knew he was dumping RR for a year, and always planned to hire Hoke, if true, is reprehensible. Hope he will be a little uncomfortable in his luxury box in years to come.

EDIT: BTW, much as I respect your opinion--his original post could not, of course, have been a critique of yours.


December 5th, 2014 at 3:23 PM ^

1) Obviously I dont know but Mullen was not leaked anywhere.  Meanwhile Football Outsiders nailed that Bret Bielema was their only target and guys like Gil Brandt confirmed Bret was offered and rejected.  So they immediately went to Mike Riley.  It sounds like all hands on deck for Bret.  Bret makes over $5M.  So if you are going all in on Bret to bring him to Lincoln you are prepared to throw the type of money that would attract Mullen.

2) This is year 6, not year 5 for Mullen.  If it takes you half a decade to find a QB you'd be out of a job at any high profile school.  I have no qualms with this year.  Even if they went 9-3 this year it would be a very good year with some quality wins.  The type he lacked his first 5 years.  His offenses in his 3rd and 4th year were as bad as ours this year.

MI Expat NY

December 5th, 2014 at 3:52 PM ^

Even accepting that version of events as true, what does that necesserily have to do with Mullen?  Nebraska hired Mike Riley of all people after four days without a coach.  They explicitly said they didn't use a search firm.  It's more than reasonable to suggest that they missed opportunities on plenty of worthy coaching candidates to settle on Riley.  I don't see how that suggests anything about Mullen.

I think you're letting your bias against Mullen get the better of you.  Your argument, especially now that you've transitioned from that wacky "no-upsets" argument to his failure to have a QB for five seasons, has merit.  I think most would recognize that.  Don't go looking for additional BS reasons to say he's not a good coaching candidate just because many on this board still think he is one despite his QB problem at Miss. St.  


December 5th, 2014 at 12:13 PM ^

Hard to say whether Wittingham will be able to pull up Utah like Patterson did TCU. Both were great MWC coaches. Patterson moved up, had two down years, and now is basically playoff bound. Wittingham moved up and has had four downish years. Patterson has shown he's big time but I think the verdict is out a big on Wittingham. One of my friends is a Utah alum and he said people were coming into this season wondering if Wittingham was the guy anymore. The 8-4 season has helped, but I think they still wonder.


December 5th, 2014 at 3:25 PM ^

I looked at both of these guys pretty long histories when in the MWC.  Patterson's was better.  But a year ago at this time the same concerns you expressed about Whittingham were evident in Patterson.  He had moved to a bigger conference and could not find prior success.  So if we had this conversation a year ago the exact same situation would face an evaluation of Patterson.

What Patterson did this offseason was demote his OC and hire 2 Air Raid guys.  He had the right QB - a very good talent, and away we go.  He is much lauded once again.

Whittingham does not have the QB - if he had a QB like Patterson had this year I think they could have gone 10-2ish.  Their offense was something like 90th in the country on FEI - quite bad. Utah also jettisoned their OC trying to find success this past offseason - it just didnt work for them.  I also think the talent level a guy in Texas can get is generally going to be better than a guy in Utah.

I dont think Whittingham is quite the coach Patterson is but I mean once we get past the type A candidates you are talking Pinkel, Schiano etc - I'd rather have Whittingham than those guys if we reach that stage.


December 5th, 2014 at 11:02 AM ^

Well, at least you can believe every word typed by Brian. This seems to be one of the last bastions of verifiable journalistic integrity.

My regular coaching updates will consist of 'refresh mgoblog'.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


December 5th, 2014 at 11:10 AM ^

Fair point,

But I just finished reading a dozen other sites that all pretty much could be summed up with "COACH X IS PROBABLY DA GUY!!!!11one." Then followed by various stages of walk-back. Then I read a post that is mostly "here are the options but I'm not really sure." Refreshing.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad


December 5th, 2014 at 11:03 AM ^

I'm finally glad there is a timeline that has been communicated to the players and then to us about when this search should be finalized. Given the timeline, that points to Harbaugh or Miles IMO. It's pretty obvious that Michigan is in talks with Harbaugh behind-the-scenes, and that Miles would come here in a heartbeat. Sounds like Hackett might just be the long term solution at AD, he has handled this like a total pro! That being said,  the Over/Under on serious CC threads has been set by me today at 5. 


December 5th, 2014 at 11:07 AM ^

I think the tea leaves do not say it is between Harbaugh and Miles.  I think its Harbaugh v the field and Miles will not get offered. 

Both from the Carr illuminatti, the Football Outsiders report, the Hackett comments at the presser about the type of coach he wants.  The "clean as a whistle" Kyle Whittingham fits Hackett's description way more than Miles.


December 5th, 2014 at 11:21 AM ^

let Les know what we are about at Michigan and that the recruiting stunts he pulled at LSU will not be tolerated? I agree with you that Whittingham fits the description to a T, I just can't believe that Miles would not be offered the job because of some questionable recruiting and roster decisions he made while at LSU. I'm not defending his actions, but is that really something that can't be worked through if Les was offered?

Tim Waymen

December 5th, 2014 at 11:49 AM ^

I agree. If you look at what Hackett said about what he's looking for in the next Michigan coach re: values, this will sound like overly drastic but Miles doesn't fit the bill. Scandals, unethical practices (oversigning), and academic issues. I hate it when we sound all high and mighty, but I think it's a fair statement that Miles does not represent what the brass at UM would like to see in a football coach. He's just too shady.


December 5th, 2014 at 11:05 AM ^

Just look at it from the game theory point of view.

Regarding Harbaugh, things need to wait out until the regular season is over. Every other major job has been filled already. The longer this drags out, the chance of landing Harbaugh gets better.

Names being floated in media. If you are an agent worth anything, you HAVE to float your guy's name in the media as a possible candidate. Even if he has no intention of taking the job since it is a future negotiation lever. If you are hearing names that someone like Cowherd (via agents)is trumpeting, that pretty much means that person has no chance for this job and has not been contacted, since...

If you have been contacted and is interested, you are going to keep quiet. Your agent is going to keep quiet. You don't want to jeopardize the deal by flapping your mouth. That is why we probably have not heard a pip about/from Mullen and a couple of other very viable candidates.

Just keep praying that this process drags on if you are pining for Harbaugh. As soon as he says no, I suspect we will sign to a plan B/C within days or even hours.