Thursday, November 29, 2007

More Scoops Than Baskin Robbins

Here is some interesting and really good gossip on the coaching search at Michigan. As you know, Lloyd Carr is out and it seems that LSU coach Les Miles is a shoe-in for the job. Or is he? Read this and see what you think. Keep in mind this is all rumor and speculation:

Sources think it' s Miles, but some interesting stuff on Carr & Miles that I wasn't aware of. The Kirk Ferentz issue is fairly complicated. Obviously, he is strongly connected with Mary Sue Coleman, and he grew up on Michigan (Royal Oak) until going to hs in PA and his daughter went to school at Michigan. As a former assistant and then head coach at Iowa, he has known Lloyd Carr for many years and they share many of the same philosophies about football (running the ball ,time of possession, playing conservatively in the 4th quarter).

It was set up for the past two years that Carr would retire out after this season. Carr’s contract has deferred comp provisions that don’t require him to be head coach in July, 2008 in order to get paid out, and the assistants contracts are all guaranteed through the end of the 2008 regular season. Carr had promoted Mike Debord to OC in 2006 with the hope that the former Central Michigan coach and Michigan OC (96-00), would succeed and there would be a transition with Debord as HC without any major staff changes. That plan was working pretty well, until the first half of the OSU game last year, and then things have just fallen apart.

AGAIN, THIS IS RUMOR: At some point last year, Ferentz visited Bo in the hospital. While in AA, he met up with Carr and Coleman. After that conversation, I believe Carr began to see Ferentz as a viable alternative –someone that he respected that would not change things dramatically. Carr is a very strong supporter of Ferentz being the next head coach, because he really does not have any internal coaches that would be taken seriously (maybe English in a few more years, but the D struggled with 7 new starters this year and he has only had the job 2 years).

Had Carr retired last year, there would have been a very high probability that Ferentz would have become the next Michigan coach. He is a coach that is highly respected, whom Carr and Coleman consider to have a lot of integrity, and would seem to fit very well with the existing personnel at Michigan and a safe pick in that he had proven he could win the Big Ten.

Things changed dramatically after the Appalachain State loss. It was readily apparent that an offense supposedly loaded with talent (henne, hart, Long, Manningham, Arrington) was not even prepared to start the season and was being outplayed by a football minnow. I can’t tell you how pissed the season ticket holders and big $$$$ donors were after that game- unheard of at any Big ten school and especially Michigan. Then Michigan got wiped by Oregon, and Carr himself told the AD that he was definitely done-he just didn’t have the energy to do it anymore and the stress was too much for him. The team has basically gone for several years now with a head coach in name only, as English (DC) and Debord (OC) basically function independently of each other, which is why things look like a mess at times.

At that point, the donors, ticket holders and AD realized that the program was in much more of a decline than many had realized (very antiquated strength and conditioning program, poor offseason workout structure, far more disciplinary problems than in the past, and the recruiting is struggling with the Carr rumors running the past two seasons- last year they missed out on several of the top in-state kids, which is pretty rare). The big money donors and alums began looking for the homerun candidate and Miles stepped to the forefront.

Miles has a long history with Michigan. He played for Bo, he coached for Bo, he left with McCartney and coached at Colorado, and he returned to coach for Moeller. Moeller’s staff had some huge divisions amongst the coaches where they just hated each other. Guys like Miles and Cam Cameron were seen as extremely arrogant, brash and aggressive and that did not go over well with Carr, who was the DC. When Moeller resigned and Carr became interim head coach, Miles was out there door in an instant and Cameron wasn’t far behind.

Miles’ and Carr’s dislike for each other played out on the recruiting trail for years. The dislike spiraled and spiraled.

This is what Carr meant in his resignation speech when he said that certain issues would be left on the recruiting trails (it was directed at Miles). But the current coaching staff (Debord, Loeffler and others) continue to just bash Miles through the media and surrogates on the message boards claiming that there are “ethical” issues concerning Miles. They are hoping that someone like Ferentz would come in and not completely overhaul the entire program, starting with firing most of them.

AGAIN..THIS IS RUMOR/SPECULATION. Miles, though, has huge support amongst the alums, big donors, and within the Athletic Department. On the internet, over 80% of the posters support Miles as the next coach in the polls. Even if he can be quirky at the end of games (not always coaching according to Hoyle like bombing it into the endzone on 3rd and 8 with 14 seconds left), he is seen as the fiery, emotional leader than can bring back the intensity and physical play Michigan has been lacking for many years now. And he is a great recruiter. He is a homerun candidate that is begging for the job (sent word to Martin that he WILL take the job if offered).

Carr, though, will not support Miles no matter what and despite their purported reconciliation. Hence, Carr and the current coaching staff are allegedly backing Ferentz as the anti-Miles candidate. This is a strong constituency because ultimately Mary Sue Coleman may cast her vote.

The third major candidate will be Brian Kelly of Cinn. He won 2 national titles at Grand Valley State (in Grand Rapids), won the MAC with Central Michigan (basically winning 80% of his games at a school that Debord couldn’t win 50% at), and is proving himself at Cinn. He has some skeletons though, as MSU did not hire him last year because of his notorious temper and a purported racial incident (was defending some players claiming that in their culture they don’t cooperate with the police after a shooting). Without a doubt though, the guy is a fiery competitor.

In the end, I think it will be Miles-but not without some shouting and hurt feelings. There is a very vocal minority very strongly opposed to his being head coach, but he is the sure fire homerun for the AD with the donors and alums. And his intense style and excellent recruiting likely has the highest ceiling as far as future success. He may not be the gamecoach that Ferentz and Kelly are, but he would overhaul the system and royally kick some ass until the things started working again. He is also aggressive in games and a dramatic departure from the ultra conservative world of Lloyd Carr, and most importantly-he goes outside of his system to hire top assistants everywhere that he has gone. Jimbo Fisher, Gary Crowton, Bo Pelini-he just goes out and hires the best guy without the cronyism.

No comments: