There are slew of coaching change information flying around. The volume is so high it is deafening, and you can’t make sense of one rumor to the next. Who should you believe? What rumors can you trust? What exactly is happening?
Having a working understanding of how coaching changes work may bring you some level of clarity and ability to weed out chaff from the seeds. For those of you who actually have a life and have no clue how these things usually work, here is a short synopsis of how a new coach is hired by a major program.
Stage 1: Highlander
The battles are coming and the players are getting themselves ready.
This is when the search committee is making a list and checking it twice. The list is large (20+) since anyone who with any reasonable qualifications will be reviewed. The goal is to reduce this number to a manageable number where the vetting can begin. No candidates have been contacted officially, but feelers for obvious top candidates (HARBAUGH!!!) have been sent out via tertiary parties.
You will know when you are in this stage: This is also when you have the most noise, since any agent worth a damn is “leaking” information on how his candidate is a target for the job. Whenever you hear talking heads talk about “I heard from this agent” or “information from my trusted source” not related to the university, you can safely assume that it is coming from the agent who is trying to get his client added to the list (aka. “Michigan reached out to Jay Gruden”).
Harbaugh Deviation: You know you are the top candidate. Everyone you know who is related in anyway with Michigan is telling you, you are the top candidate. You talk about the job with your friends and family, but you are in the middle of a playoff charge, you do not have time to focus on something else.
Stage 2: The Quickening
The bodies of non-contenders are piling up and we start to see who is in it to win it.
The initial list of candidates are whittled down to a manageable size (Hackett is saying this is 14 for Michigan) so that actual vetting can begin. The possible candidates/agents are contacted to see if they are available. If they are, resumes are reviewed, backgrounds are checked, and discussions are held. You will leave enough room so that the candidate can honestly refute that he is looking at another job.
You will know when you are in this stage: You don’t hear a pip from real candidates since the search committee wants to keep this process private and will not look favorably to leaks coming from the candidate’s camp. You will hear from people who were contacted but responded with no interest (aka Cutcliff). There will still be residue noise coming from those who were not contacted, but really wants to be considered (GO AWAY JAY!!!)
Harbaugh Deviation: Your already slim playoff hopes are getting slimmer still. You know you are not coming back with the Niners and start thinking about what comes next. Everybody you know from Michigan are hounding you about taking the job.
Stage 3: Final Dimension
The final scene is set with our hero and his nemesis, and the final fight is coming.
The number of final candidates are set and stack ranked based on desirability. If the candidate is currently employed, the current employer is contacted for permission to interview. High-level negotiations are held to find out exactly what is going to be required to lock down the candidate and whether or not the candidate will accept the offer if given. Interviews are held in secret. Only thing left is the formal offer.
You will know when you are in this stage: There are a torrent of leaks from the target coach’s administration. The real candidates stop denying that they are looking for another job. Various rumors about salary numbers and other perks are leaked. Reports about a random dude claiming that he is a candidate disappears. There are various leaks about candidates turning down the offer (this is when this news would be legitimate).
Harbaugh Deviation: You ask for the world and you are somewhat surprised to find out that Michigan is more than happy to bend over backward to fulfill it (like Carr announcing publicly that Harbaugh is his choice). The season is over now and you are getting Facebook friend requests from various NFL owners. Do you stay in NFL or go back to college?
Stage 4: End Game
THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!!!
You have gone one by one down the stack ranking, and FINALLY one of the candidate says yes. You draft a formal agreement and send it for signature. When it is signed, you announce to the world that a coach has been hired. You deny anyone who suggest that you did not get your top choice and proclaim that only one offer was made and the candidate accepted it (which is technically true).
You will know when you are in this stage: You have a new coach.
Harbaugh Deviation: WHY WON’T YOU TAKE THE JOB????!!!! JUST TAKE THE JOB ALREADY!!!!!
From my point of view, we have just entered the stage 2. I suspect we will get to the stage 3 next week when Niners are officially out of the playoff picture. Hold on to your hat, it is going to be a bumpy one.