Brian December 15th, 2014 at 12:30 PM


I KNOW IT'S OVER AND OH IT NEVER REALLY BEGAN EXCEPT FOR THREE CONSECUTIVE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME APPEARANCES BUT IN MY HEART IT WAS SO REAL. San Francisco is eliminated from the playoffs. (Thanks, Lions!) This should accelerate everyone's decision-making process. Harbaugh is now going to consider his future in earnest; Michigan will enter with their bag with "$$$" on the side and hope to woo the fair maiden.

I've heard that both Harbaugh and the 49ers will start moving now. While official announcements may wait until after the season, the process of making a decision starts in earnest now.

This time there will be no coy crap, no hedging on the part of the athletic director about how much control Harbaugh will have or how much film he gets to watch. (Academics are the one area in which Harbaugh will have to compromise somewhat, as the AD does not have control over Michigan's willingness to admit JUCOs. The guy made it work at Stanford; Michigan is way less hardcore than Stanford.) Michigan will approach Harbaugh with an offer competitive with the NFL and the promise that at no point will he be forced to apologize for one of his players putting a piece of metal in the ground.

If he doesn't end up coming, at least we'll know that Michigan did everything they could this time.

ON LES MILES. I have to make an about-face here. Just yesterday I said that Miles had seemingly found himself on the shortlist after years in the wilderness. Another day's worth of information and I don't know that's true. Michigan made basic contact with Miles (or, in one version of the story, his agent finally got through to someone after calling repeatedly) and that's as far as anything went.

Depending on who you talk to, he's either a prominent non-Harbaugh viable option or far enough down the list to be irrelevant—ie, behind a guy who would obviously take the job. It sounds like a lot is being made of not much contact. There is a large group of guys close to the program who advocate for him, and I think that's where that's coming from.

Still, the next two bullets mean he's in play.

OFF THE BOARD. OSU OC Tom Herman takes the Houston job. I had just heard the first reliable thing that Michigan was looking at him as a plan B option and now he's (almost certainly) not one of those. I am distressed, because I'm with Bruce Feldman:

On the positive side, OSU no longer has the guy.

MEANWHILE, PLAN B. It's not hard to see things falling through to Miles if Harbaugh doesn't take the job. There is no consensus on who secondary options are. Scout keeps pushing Jim Mora; Rivals keeps pushing Bob Stoops. I've heard both. The problem there is that neither is in a bad spot; either could be mentioned largely because agents are trying to get an extension for their clients (Mora) or make their guy look attractive after a crappy season (Stoops). People high up in the university admin think that the reported Stoops interest is indeed an agent play.

If neither of those guys makes a move, the next best idea the paysites seem to have is Sean Payton. As discussed, I will believe that is even a vague possibility if Payton is fired by the Saints and only then. The prominence of a sitting NFL coach with an $8 million contract on the plan B list is a bit alarming. To me that means "we do not have enough reasonable names to fill out a plan B list."

If Michigan refuses to consider Dan Mullen and Herman is off the board, then after they get through their list of debatably available sitting head coaches who's left?


That's some good pointing at least.

ON DAN MULLEN. There has been absolutely nothing about him anywhere, from my inbox to the paysites to randos on twitter who seem to have a connect. Nothing. The only chatter anyone's gotten is that Mullen is off the radar after Michigan called up Jeremy Foley and Foley bombed him.

Broken record time: that's a major mistake. At this point, Jeremy Foley's hired a blindingly obvious Urban Meyer, Ron Zook, and Will Muschamp. He drew every media member within a 500 mile radius to his contract negotiations, like the world's most wizened sixty-foot tall bug zapper. If he has opinions, Michigan should take those into consideration.

It's possible he'll emerge if Michigan gets shot down by the currently mentioned Plan B guys—coaching searches are weird like that—but that's if and only if Miles is truly unpalatable to the key players. Which he might be, for reasons both valid and not.

ON LOU HOLTZ. COULD HE BE PLAN B? Probably not. According to a reader, Holtz doesn't think it's going to happen. He cites the "wife loves the West Coast" issue, so take it FWIW. While wearing a raincoat, in possession of scuba gear. Preferably.

I WOULD CHORTLE. Please please please:

Not only would that be hilarious, it would open up a number of Notre Dame commits to poaching in a situation where Michigan is going to need to make some fast friends.

Etc.: Kawakami on how the 49ers management undermined their season.



December 15th, 2014 at 12:40 PM ^

Basically this coaching search will be judged just on whether UM gets Harbaugh.  I too am sad that Herman is now off the list.  Any chance it hasn't been announced because he's waiting to see if UM expresses some serious interest?  I can hope, can't I?


December 15th, 2014 at 1:47 PM ^

For this:

"If he doesn't end up coming, at least we'll know that Michigan did everything they could this time."

Part of the lingering doubt left with me last time was the idea we didn't go hellbent for leather to get good candidates.

The lack of plan b is disturbing. Why we would write off anyone based in Jeremy Foley's opinion is just so beyond me... It's like watching a presidential candidate take media relations advice from Mel Gibson.

We should be actively heavily courting a Mullen or a Miles in case Harbaugh doesn't work.


December 15th, 2014 at 12:41 PM ^

Do you think the 49ers would fire JH if he tells them he is taking the UM job, or do you think he would finish out the year?

I know recruiting is in a dead period, but it would still be very beneficial for him to make phone calls to recruits/targets.


December 15th, 2014 at 12:41 PM ^

These last few Searchbits have had the odd effect of (ever so incrementally) increasing my Harbaugh optimism, while simultaneously increasing my utter terror at who's going to be hired if Harbaugh flakes out. Stoops not serious, Miles too controversial, Mullen not getting real consideration, Herman gone, holy hell please come home, Jim...


December 15th, 2014 at 3:08 PM ^

Les, is it really - I don't know - ethical or wise of you to be on Mgoblog drumming up support for your candidcacy and trying to weed out dissent in the Athletic dept?!

You're gonna have to sit tight until Jimmy gives us an answer, just like the rest of us


December 15th, 2014 at 1:54 PM ^

There are more than 20% of those who may have a real voice who consider Miles controversial or unacceptable.  There are reasons he wasn't the pick during the past two searches--those reasons remain, plus he's that much older and the LSU program ain't better.  I actually suspect that Miles is better liked on this Board than among U of M fans generally--this Board reflecting those more  willing to trade his baggage for wins.



December 15th, 2014 at 2:12 PM ^

It is possible this board would be more in line with the athletic department (in not wanting him), but there are probably only a handful of schools around the country whose fans wouldn't welcome Les Miles with open arms.

If we didn't care about wins we could have just kept Hoke, the players loved him and he graduated near 100% of his players.


December 15th, 2014 at 2:47 PM ^

we are not other schools.  Nice job of misstating my comment.  There is a big difference between only chasing wins--regardless of how it is done--and chasing them the right way.  Hoke was a terrible choice from the get go.  We can find a excellent coach who will win without the baggage.  

And FWIW, I am far from convinced that Miles would be successful--significant recruiting limitations from what he is used to and horrible on-field decision-making.  Just ask LSU fans.


December 15th, 2014 at 5:19 PM ^

What am I supposed to ask LSU fans, if they enjoy being ranked in the top 10 every year and winning 80% of their games playing in the toughest division and conference in all of college football, while having 2 of the 5 best coaches of their generation coaching there for the last 15 years in Miles and Saban?

Saban had baggage, Meyer had baggage, apparently Miles has baggage.

Who are these great coaches with no baggage you speak of?


December 15th, 2014 at 2:11 PM ^

Yes it is a strange world where Miles would be seen as a home run candidate by anyone outside of the university itself and those "1 degree of Kevin Bacon" from the university as I consider many on this type of blog.  The farther you get away from the university and "hearing things about the past" the more celebrated a Miles hire would be.

Put another way - to Joe Six Pack fan - Miles to Michigan would be a coup.  Miles to OSU or Auburn or USC or whomever the past 6 years all would have been celebrated hires.  We just have a different standard hence the angst.   Miles holds the 4th highest winning % (78%) of active P5 coaches behind Urban, Saban, and Stoops - and we aren't getting the first 2.  And Stoops did it in an easier conference.


December 15th, 2014 at 3:28 PM ^

I disagree. I think Miles' reputation amongst non-Michigan fans is largely poor... the assumption is he's a bit of an idiot who wins a lot of games because he's sorta dirty and plays in a high talent area. If we hire him, you will see a lot more "LOL MICH" from opposing fanbases than "o shit we're screwed".