14 Months Ago: The Fire Beilein Threads.

Submitted by stephenrjking on March 28th, 2018 at 5:30 PM

As we approach John Beilein's second Final Four, I thought it would be fun to review what people thought of the Beilein regime up to February of 2017. Note: Some of the stuff looks really stupid. Some of it was dead on, and we know this because the problems people complained about got fixed, often in big ways. In these linked threads you'll find embarrassing mistakes, but also accurate analysis of problems that Beilein subsequently fixed.

Names are not used in this post because we all say dumb stuff, and quotes shouldn't be held against posters today. I've actually deleted most of the highlights because I think it's mean-spiriited. Just a sampling is preserved to give people the general idea.

Two Years Ago:

The story actually starts with a mediocre 2015-2016 season whose highlight was a Kam Chatman three to beat Indiana in the B1G Tournament and a First Four win in Dayton. In March of 16, Brian posted a mailbag with a bunch of critical talk about Beilein. Here's a highlight:


What are the odds of replacing Beilein with someone who runs a clean program, fits culturally with the university, and achieves more success on the court? I put it at about 10%. That's not a chance worth taking for someone who may be marginally better. But the only thing that would satisfy these guys is if we were dominating the Big Ten. So then you need to consider the odds of getting the coach who runs a clean program, fits in culturally and consistently out-performs Izzo, Crean, et al. I put those odds under 1%.


I don't think that's clear yet. I do think we're going to see an offseason shakeup and hopefully a defensive specialist brought in. I am still resigned to the fact that Beilein's peak is likely to have already passed and that we'll probably be gunning for a Sweet 16 or two before he retires, not a title.

Well, Brian hit one out of two. Defensive specialist: Check. Ceiling: not so much.

Fire Beilein

Now we move to 2017, and a thread posted on January 11 after that loss to Illinois entitled: Fire John Beilein. It was a disastrous game that prompted the famed Maverick Morgan "white collar" quote that transformed Derrick Walton into a killer. 

Key quote from the OP: "Your team is no longer watchable."

i realize Beilein needs to go, but he ain't getting fired, warde seems too slow to react.

Ohio State 70, Michigan 66

We visit the nadir of the Beilein regime, a loss to a mediocre OSU team playing out the end of the Thad Matta regime. A highlight from the game story thread:

Starting to feel like the basketball version of the hoke regime

Last, but not least: The Fire Beilein Snowflake Thread from the same day:

is there anybody left

Who thinks he shouldn't be fired?............ (crickets)


It's time for Warde to get off his fat keister and do something. Beilein shouldn't be allowed to finish this season. Absolutely inexcusable to lose at home to this god awful OSU team with your tournament lives on the line. This team takes on the identity of its coach: soft, uninspired, boring

Ah, the memories.


N. Campus Tech

March 28th, 2018 at 5:56 PM ^

I've been on the pro-Beilein side since the begining, but I'll admit that I was starting to waiver around the time of the Illinois game. I gave him a pass for 15 and 16 due to the injuries and 3 guys leaving early. He had a healthy roster with Sr leadership, and they did look like crap up until that point. I'll have to go look at my old posts.


March 28th, 2018 at 6:22 PM ^

Good times. I was told to "fuck off" twice in that thread. I now have a 2 year streak (at least) of being told to "fuck off" multiple times in MGoThreads. Am I that controversial? Ahh, the internet, where civility goes to die. And to think I visit here to avoid Facebook. At least I deserved it in the Beilein thread.


March 28th, 2018 at 7:49 PM ^

Beilein after that Ohio State game is like if Brady Hoke really had won out after the Minnesota game in 2014. 

Its tough to argue that the people (myself included) were really all that wrong. It looked incredibly grim. 

Its been a remarkable run ever since. 


March 29th, 2018 at 10:26 AM ^

Right. Because Beilein was able to get up off the mat and turn the program around. Hoke was not. 

Given where each team was, its somewhat miraculous that Michigan basketball is where it is right now and not closer to where Michigan football was in 2014. 


March 29th, 2018 at 12:26 PM ^

Brady Hoke was promoted beyond his capabilities. He was loyal to his coaches to a fault. He retained Funk and the TE/ST coach long after they had demonstrated that they were making players worse rather than developing them. Beilein hit a rough spot while Hoke's teams were on a steady downward trend from the team he inherited. There is little comparison between the two beyond they are both nice guys who were head coaches at Michigan at the same time.


March 29th, 2018 at 6:58 PM ^

"A rough spot". You mean 2.5 years of poor play, poor recruiting and seemingly no player development? 

BTW, my point isn't comparing the two coaches and their abilities, its comparing the spot they were in. After that OSU game, you would have thought I was crazy if I said Michigan was going to win the BTT. Just as crazy as if I said Michigan was going to win the Big Ten and beat MSU and OSU in 2014. 

Pepto Bismol

March 30th, 2018 at 8:53 AM ^

Not now. Not knowing what we know now. At the time. At the time, it was grim. He is right and you and everybody else keep throwing current successes at him. We know. Scooter knows, everybody knows, that Beilein is great and he will never get that kind of criticism again. We know. 

But AT THE TIME, he turned the Burke/Stauskas Final Four/Elite Eight teams into nothing. Everybody expected a boost in recruiting and that the days of Stu and Novak and scrapping out wins with undermanned rosters was over. 

AT THE TIME, the last two and a half years looked like:

2014-15 = 16-16, 8-10 in conference. No postseason. Terrible.

2015-16 = 23-13, 10-8 in conference. Barely squeaked in the tourney and most here knew we probably didn't deserve a spot. Won a play in game against Tulsa. Disappointing season.

2016-17 until 2/4/17 = 14-9, 4-6 in conference. Just lost to a very bad OSU team right after a loss at Breslin.  About a month after a depressing Illinois loss where Maverick Morgan infamously called us "white collar".

AT THAT TIME, it was not insane to look at the trajectory of the program and think, "Maybe we just hit the jackpot on Burke and Stauskas. Maybe we're not going to become elite and Beilein's water level is actually closer to a .500 B1G coach.

And then they go nuts and win the conference tourney, Sweet 16 and plow through to the Final Four this season and we can all sit back in our chairs and say, "Okay, I almost jumped off a bridge there, but Beilein IS good and 2013-15 was NOT a fluke and we can do this regularly." 

Someday I'll dig it up in print, but when Ace Andbender of all people says (paraphrasing) "I dunno, maybe it's time for a new direction" in a game recap, then Scooter is not wrong to say that AT THE TIME, it looked grim.

Because it looked grim.

snarling wolverine

March 30th, 2018 at 2:10 PM ^

We're in the Final Four and you're still desperately trying to win a dumb internet argument from a year ago.  I mean dude, you're busting out your internet argument A game here.  CAPITAL LETTERS!  One. Word. Sentences!  Boomshakalaka!

And for what?  To argue, in effect, that John Beilein should not be our coach right now, because he should have been fired already! 

I don't know if it's funny or sad.


March 30th, 2018 at 10:26 PM ^

Trying to win an internet argument is you. Message Board  Echo Chamber Fan Boy. As the OP so eloquently said---WE ALL SAY DUMB THINGS and they are based, often, on a snapshot in time that comes after either some good or bad times. The Michigan program seemed to top out at the Elite Eight the year after the championship loss. 

As many will admit (if they have the nads)--the program seemed like nothing special. And as many ae admitting, their judgment was hasty, and Belein turned it around.

But there is NO FUCKING WAY anybody but those with blind faith saw this coming.

matty blue

March 31st, 2018 at 11:08 PM ^

i didn't "see this coming."  didn't need to. because i'm not an idiot.

i didn't think that a lousy stretch was enough to completely ignore and forget john beilein's track record.  he did what he's done for his entire goddamned coaching career.  he took the pieces, adapted, and turned those pieces into a really good team. like fucking always.  this was only a surprise if you base your entire view of a program on one game, or one week, or one season.


March 31st, 2018 at 6:01 AM ^

he said is that it wasn’t crazy two years ago to think that maybe we had peaked and it was becoming a real thing to think about a succession plan. The team didn’t look good, certain players were not developing, and most of the players who had left for the NBA looked like flameouts. It is crazy to think now, but he’s right, it wasn’t then. I was a Beilein supporter through and through, and there were even doubts creeping into my head.

snarling wolverine

March 31st, 2018 at 12:10 PM ^

Not really.  For Red, people were talking about a succession plan.  For Beilein, they were calling for him to fired ASAP.

I don't say this to call anyone out.  Everyone posts dumb things on the internet.  

What I find odd is that some people  get so emotionally invested in pointless internet arguments, to the point that they keep coming back to them even when those positions have become absurdly untenable.  What good does it do you to argue now that Beilein, the 2018 National Coach of the Year, should have been fired a year ago? 



March 30th, 2018 at 3:15 PM ^

Beilein had proven he could succeed very well at the highest level of competition. Hoke hadn't. Everything Hoke showed since his arrival in Ann Arbor was that he wasn't capable of ever succeeding as a head coach in the B1G. Under the circumstances, Beilein had earned the benefit of the doubt but Hoke hadn't.

matty blue

March 31st, 2018 at 7:11 AM ^

comparing john beilein in feb 2017 to brady hoke, ever, is to ignore...what? 20 years of evidence from both guys? one had a consistent record of adapting, changing, and flogging teams to improve on an in-season basis, almost without exception, and the other is brady goddamned hoke.

give this one up. you lost. you were being ridiculous then, you’re being ridiculous now.


March 29th, 2018 at 11:04 AM ^

Okay, make the case post Ohio State game. 

You have a coach on the brink of missing his 2nd tournament in 3 years (and barely squeaking into the one he made), who is 4-6 in the Big Ten and just lost a terrible game at home to a rival. His team has shown no development and appears to have regressed. Recruiting is abysmal. 

Now you go. Make the easy case for Beilein at that moment. 

Mr Miggle

March 29th, 2018 at 11:31 AM ^

Things didn't look great after the OSU game, but Beilein had already proven himself to be a very good coach. It pays to have confidence in and patience with people that have proven themselves. Really good coaches find ways to turn things around and really good coaches that fit your program are not easy to find.



March 29th, 2018 at 10:48 PM ^

i've never waivered on JB.  always thought he was one of the best coaches, if not the best, in the country when we hired him and ever since.

that said, he was hurt by that one mediocre recruiting class and the levert, irvin and walton injuries; not to mention so many unexpected early entries to the nba.  

to fire a coach because guys improve so much they jump to the nba is some of the dumbest logic i have ever heard.


March 30th, 2018 at 12:33 PM ^

It pays to have confidence in and patience with people that have proven themselves. Really good coaches find ways to turn things around and really good coaches that fit your program are not easy to find.

Red Berenson is/was a good coach, too.  Does this statement apply to the last five-ish years of his tenure?  Would you argue he should not have stepped aside?

Mr Miggle

March 30th, 2018 at 12:52 PM ^

No method of handling coaches is foolproof. It's good to consider the risk/reward of different management styles. 

By letting Red go out on his own terms, we had a couple of bad seasons. On the other hand, we treated a Michigan legend very well and we're in a good place now. I'm perfectly okay with that. Maximizing our records every season isn't really worth that much in the long run. It's not what defines programs we can be proud of.

Lacking patience, you probably would have fired Berenson after his first 3 seasons. Who knows where we'd be today or how we would have gotten there. I'd rather not think too much about it.

If you have confidence that you have hired good coaches, then having some patience with them will usually pay off. If you hired very imperfect candidates due to circumstances, Ellerbe, RR and Hoke for example, then I'd be less patient. The more you churn through coaches, the more you're going to be forced to make hires like those.


snarling wolverine

March 29th, 2018 at 11:53 AM ^

"John Beilein has a fantastic track record and may end up in the Hall of Fame.  He's won a lot at this school already, and his teams regularly show improvement as the year goes on.  The 2015 and '16 teams were hit hard by injury so I wouldn't draw too many conclusions from those.  Let this year ('17) play out before flying off the handle.  This team showed what it was capable of earlier in the season."

The team was in a bad slump, but it had blown out SMU and Marquette in the preseason NIT.  It had the ability.  The question was simply whether it could put it all together consistently.  From that point onward it did.

The underlying issue is that there are a lot of Michigan fans that have been slow to accept Beilein's coaching philosophy.  They think his teams shoot too many threes, want him play two big men, want his players to crash the offensive glass more - basically, they want him to play Izzoball.  And then there are those who have persistently complained about his recruiting - even though he keeps sending players to the NBA, they insist it's just "luck."  So when the team slumped in the middle of last season, these two factions with grievances against Beilein pounced on the opportunity.




March 29th, 2018 at 6:56 PM ^

Yeah, no. Injuries would be an excuse if the team hadn't been losing to NJIT and Eastern with Caris Levert.  

The fact is, the team had performed poorly for 2.5 seasons (even if you want to factor in injuries) and looked to be incredibly disappointing. And you emphasizing a slump ignores the extended malaise the program was in. 

So no, the argument after that game was not easy. Its based entirely on hindsight, which is why the current run is so incredible. 


March 29th, 2018 at 7:53 PM ^

You seem to be shrugging off the injuries like they were no big deal. We lost our starting backcourt for the season in 2014-15 (LeVert and Walton) and then lost LeVert (again) and Albrecht for the season in 15-16. That’s a lot to overcome. That we made the tournament without those two in ‘16 is a point in Beilein’s favor, if anything. You add them to that team and maybe we make a Sweet 16 run.

And really . . . we’re in the Final Four and you’re trying to pile on Beilein?

Mitch Cumstein

March 30th, 2018 at 12:13 PM ^

I don’t understand the argument here. Basically, you’re asking why Beilein shouldn’t have been fired mid-season? Bc after the season, he obviously shouldn’t have been fired.

How about this, you don’t fire a coach midseason that has (1) run a respectable, clean program, (2) took a team to a championship game, (3) won multiple conference titles. That’s not something that attracts good coaching candidates in the future. Dumb argument all the way around.


March 28th, 2018 at 8:19 PM ^

that post-OSU thread was pretty noxious. Oof. People wanted him fired that Monday. 

Three days later the team went to E Lansing and slaughtered MSU by 29 points and went on to finish the season rather nicely. I wonder where we'd be now if those people had had their way.

edit: MSU beatdown was at Crisler, not EL


March 29th, 2018 at 10:55 PM ^

glad i didn't see that game.  but i was kind of shocked when i got the news that we lost.  i think the only other game i didn't see last year was south carolina; probably our second worst performance of the year.


March 30th, 2018 at 5:24 PM ^

that ended up in the Final Four wasn't that bad.

The worst two losses last year by far were to a bad Illinois team by double digits and to a bad OSU team at home.

The way the home loss to VTech happened was really frustrating since we blew a huge lead but losing by 3 to a tournament team isn't that bad.

Those were the three worst losses of last season.  Not the South Carolina game.


March 28th, 2018 at 8:20 PM ^

I've always been a fan of John Beilein, not only for basketball, but just as importantly, for character. At this point, I hope he continues as long as he wants to coach, and happily retires from Michigan when he is ready.

I will say that I'm wondering if Beilein has found a special sweet spot. Namely, I think that there is a limit to how well one and done schools (Kentucky, Duke, perhaps a few others) will end up doing. If Beilein can bring guys in and develop them for a year or two, and then have them start for a year or two, you've got guys that are here at least two years, maybe three. In that time frame, they cease being "bambi on ice," and perhaps they gain some credibility to be drafted to the NBA.

As an example, I would have loved Mo Bamba, and Luke Kennard before him. But I'm wondering if it would be worth it to have them for a year, and then have them go to the NBA. Mind you, if a kid is projected as a lottery pick, they almost have to go to the NBA. But it seems to me that they don't have the experience and savvy to lead a team to win the championship.

Maybe my theory is crazy. Let's just say that I love how Beilein is recruiting, and coaching, and I hope he has a number of years left.

Walmart Wolverine

March 29th, 2018 at 6:50 AM ^

"As an example, I would have loved Mo Bamba, and Luke Kennard before him. But I'm wondering if it would be worth it to have them for a year, and then have them go to the NBA. Mind you, if a kid is projected as a lottery pick, they almost have to go to the NBA. But it seems to me that they don't have the experience and savvy to lead a team to win the championship."


I think this is probably true but that doesn't preclude a program (like Michigan's) from following the Beilein philosophy while still incorporating 4* and 5* one or two and done players.  I think the major flaw in Beilein's system is that there are going to occasionally be low nadirs when a group of players who mature together all leave together.  We've already seen this.

Bringing in a highly talented, highly recruited freshman every year or two would raise those floors substantially.  You just don't ask - or expect - these players to lead

But all that said, I too am very happy with Beilein.  Not sure that playing with fire is worth it

matty blue

March 29th, 2018 at 10:05 AM ^

...i'll say this:  i hoped we would get him, if only to counter the whole "beilein can't recruit" thing.

i was thinking about him a lot this season.  he is obviously super-talented and fun to watch, but he...didn't seem to develop much, in my opinion.  he's still SO raw.  thought experiment - if he'd come to michigan, woudl he be a one-and-done?  i'm not so sure.  i think he would've struggled to fit in to the system and played intermittent minutes...25 one night, 4 the next.  he'd be developing, certainly, but not to the point where you could slot him in for 28 minutes every night.  the nba would still be interested, but not as much, and he might just decide to stay another year...when the 2 years of camp beilein would turn him into a lottery pick with a clear career in front of him.  as it is, are we sure he'll have a long nba career?  magic 8-ball says ask again later.

but i just went off on a tangent...i completely, 100% agree - as a michigan fan i'll take the two-and-done guys over the obvious one-and-dones every damn time.  super-talented players, but players that know that they have work to do to get to the nba AND (and this is critical) who won't view their college team as aau ball part 2.


March 29th, 2018 at 4:33 PM ^

They fire Rick Barnes for starting to falter a little and bring in Shaka Smart who makes one dance as an overrated 6-seed, misses another horribly, and barely squeaks into this year's and promptly blows a huge second half lead to Nevada. And now that they don't even run the Havoc it's even more glaring just how awful an offensive coach he is as you watch the Longhorns brick everything in sight. Why would anyone want to play for him? You won't improve. Bamba could have decided to play at Abeline Christian and been a top-10 pick.

Meanwhile, Barnes has Tennessee humming after digging out of the mess left by Donnie Tyndall. If he doesn't incur any underclassmen losses that is going to be a very good team again next year.

Mr Miggle

March 29th, 2018 at 11:40 PM ^

They are often one and dones and know they are going to be. Bamba would probably be a top 5 pick if he sat out the year like Bowen or if he was coming off the bench anywhere. He's got incredible potential as a rim protector, he's already elite at it.

Finding one you can get without dealing with shady characters is a challenge even if the kid is honest.