Wanted: A Coach
So where does this once powerful program look from here? Some have said it's the best job in the country, all the mystique and aura and helmets but without the "win a national title now or get fired" pressure at some other places like Alabama or Notre Dame. Maybe it's not #1, but it's easily in the top 5 or 10 regardless of who you ask. There will be some big names thrown about over the next few months and it's all but assured that Michigan will throw some big dollars towards this. So who are some of the names out there and what might be there level of interest?
Les Miles - the current coach of the #2 ranked LSU Tigers. Les is a 1976 graduate of the University of Michigan with a degree in Economics. He was a graduate assistant under Bo Schembechler in 1980 and 1981 and an assistant under Bo and Gary Moeller from 1987 to 1994. His wife was a former women's basketball assistant coach at Michigan. Since leaving Michigan he has been an assistant coach for the Dallas Cowboys and head coach of the Oklahoma State Cowboys before his current gig as the head coach of the Louisiana State Tigers. At OSU, he won some big games against rival Oklahoma but also managed to lose some games each year (4-5 per year). At LSU, he has had a pair of 2 loss seasons so far, but each included a blowout win in their bowl game (40-3 over Miami and 41-14 over Notre Dame). Yesterday, his team destroyed #9 Virginia Tech by a score of 48-7.
So what's the mutual interest? According to those that know Miles, he'd take the Michigan job in a heartbeat if the offer ever came and not even think twice. It's his dream job and he'd drop everything to return. The problem until now has been some tension with Lloyd Carr and company in regards to things like recruiting and ethics and other things nobody will really talk in detail about. It is working to Miles favor right now that Carr is going to have pretty much zero say in who gets to replace him with the way things are going. By the end of this year, he might have himself positioned as the favorite.
Rich Rodriguez - the current head coach of the #3 West Virginia Mountaineers. He has built the West Virginia team into a power, even if they are playing some lesser competition in the Big East with back to back top 10 finishes and another excellent team in 2007. He has no real ties to Michigan and just passed on the Alabama job to stay at West Virginia. I think he's a longshot for Michigan, but the name will get tossed out there.
Jeff Tedford - the current coach of the California Bears. He's a career west coast guy that has built some powerful offenses and good teams at the perennial cellar dwellar known as Cal, though he has struggled to have consistently great teams (sounds like he might fit here, right?). It is possible that he has taken Cal as far as it can go and might want to try his hand at a bigger program with more of a national reach to see what he can do. Bill Martin will love what he has done at an academic equal to Michigan and might be willing to give him a shot.
Greg Schiano - the current head coach of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Schiano is from New Jersey and has spent time at Rutgers, Penn State, Miami, and with the Chicago Bears in various coaching capacities. He's a defensive guy and was named national coach of the year last year for his dramatic turn around of the Rutgers program. His name is going to get brought up for every big job opening, but the Michigan AD might just be able to land him if they so desire. Michigan would offer him a major step up in the college football world and he already has spent a few years at Penn State and with the Chicago Bears so Big Ten country isn't foreign to him.
Kirk Ferentz - the current head coach of the Iowa Hawkeyes. Ferentz name was on the hotlist for all job openings a few years ago, but he has struggled a bit the last few years. Still, Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman knows him quite well from her days at Iowa and there will be some rumblings about Ferentz whenever Carr eventually "retires".
Brian Kelly - the current head coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats. Kelly is no stranger to the state of Michigan having been a dominant force at Division 2 Grand Valley State going 41-2 over his final 3 seasons including a pair of national championships. Then he moved up to Central Michigan and lead the Chippewas to a MAC title. Kelly has a reputation for being an offensive genius and I don't think he would think twice before leaving for Michigan if he got a job offer. There are a few off the field issues with him, however, and I'm not sure how serious of a candidate he would be. I mean a few years at CMU and Cincinnati as your total of D1 experience might not be enough to get the Michigan job.
Mike Trgovac - the current defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers. Trgovac played and coached under Bo Schembechler for Michigan. He then spent time at Ball State, Navy, Colorado State, and Notre Dame (under Lou Holtz) before heading to the NFL. In the NFL, he has served as defensive line coach in Philadelphia, Green Bay, Washington, and Carolina before being elevated to defensive coordinator of Carolina in 2003. The Panthers have routinely been in the top 10 in most defensive categories since Trgovac took over as defensive coordinator. The two big questions with Trgovac are would he want to go back to college and would Michigan want a guy with no head coaching experience? Hard to say, but his name is definitely going to be thrown into the ring.
Cam Cameron - the current head coach of the Miami Dolphins. Cam was an assistant under Bo Schembechler and Gary Moeller from 1984 to 1993 in Ann Arbor before becoming head coach at Indiana where he struggled to an 18-37 record. Since then he has been offensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers before signing a 4 year deal with Miami this past offseason. The Dolphins just lost one head coach to the college ranks (Saban at Alabama) so it would be just plain not funny for a Dolphin's fan if Saban's replacement left for college as well. Cameron definitely has strong ties to Ann Arbor, however he just signed a 4 year deal with the Dolphins and I'm not sure he'd back out on it so soon.
I'm sure there are a few other names out there that I'm forgetting, but those are most of the big ones that will be talked about. One thing that is for sure is that with the rapid demise of the team, current assistants will have no shot at the head job so that means no more worrying about DeBord taking over for Lloyd. The more I look at everything surrounding the situation, the more I have to think that Miles is the favorite. Then it becomes a question of timing. Lloyd has been within inches of retiring in the past and you know he is trying to figure out an "exit strategy" right now. He has some health concerns and it is conceivable that he could retire any day. I know he wants to finish out the season, but if the team falls apart on him that might not be possible.
Labels: Michigan Football