Monday, November 26, 2007

Coach - O - Rama

Since the retirement of Lloyd Carr, the rumors of who is to be the new coach of Michigan have kicked into full gear. Most recently, apparently false rumors of Kirk Ferentz accepting the job and being on the verge of an announcement have swept around in the last 48-72 hours. Brian knows his stuff and I think I know where he got some of his information from. As best I can tell there have been some actual serious looking at Ferentz as a candidate by Michigan combined with some Iowa fans spreading some false rumors of Ferentz as accepting the job. I think the two are totally unrelated and the timing is ironic and kind of funny. So where does Ferentz stand in the Michigan head coaching search? I think he is still a candidate, though I don't think any decisions have been made yet.

So here are some of my thoughts on some potential names I have seen kicked around in various locations. Some are more likely than others. We'll start with the 500 lb gorilla in the room.

Les Miles - I think everybody knows the story. Former OL under Bo Schembechler who also had 2 stints in Ann Arbor as an assistant coach. He had some success at Oklahoma State including some big wins over rival Oklahoma and he has had more success at LSU taking over for Nick Saban.

What are some of the pros for Miles? Well, he's a "Michigan Man", whatever that means. He certainly knows what it takes to be successful in Ann Arbor and he certainly loves the school. He also has had success as a head coach in both the Big Twelve and the SEC. LSU finished 6th in the AP poll his first season and 3rd in the AP poll last season. This year they were at or near the top until their recent triple OT loss to Arkansas. You still have to figure they are a good bet to once again finish in the top 5 nationally. Miles also is not afraid to gamble on the field which is a little different than Lloyd Carr. He is not afraid to fake field goals and punts and just go for it on 4th down over and over. There is definitely a little riverboat gambler mentality in Les and that's not a bad thing.

Some of the cons? He has a big mouth and will say some un-PC things to the media. Who can forget "we have a new rival in fucking Alabama"? He also didn't profess to be a fan of the Pac Ten while ridiculing the USC schedule. After 13 years of listening to Lloyd Carr extoll the virtues of every single opponent he plays and talk them up left and right, are Michigan fans ready for a coach that will pop off at any time about any topic and risk offending lots of people? I'm not sure, though I admit it would be fun to listen to him talk about his true feelings about Ohio State. There are also some folks that feel Les has never had a truly great season losing some games each year that he shouldn't. However, you can say that regarding just about any coach in the country. Given the tough schedules he has faced at LSU, I'd say he has handled himself quite well in the W/L category. Also various rumors about Oklahoma State players being surprised they had to go to class and attending meetings and other such routine things after Coach Gundy (he of the press conference tirade) replaced Miles.

The bottom line is that Miles is a good coach and would likely have Michigan routinely in the top 5 or 10 in the country and in the hunt for national titles. How many times he'd embarrass himself by saying something dumb in the media would be up to speculation.

Kirk Ferentz - former player and assistant coach at Iowa that has been the Hawkeyes' head coach since 1999.

Pros? Mary Sue Coleman (the Michigan prez) apparently still loves him from her days at Iowa. Personally, that does nothing for me because she doesn't know anything about sports. His star was much brighter a few years ago when Iowa had three straight #8 rankings in the final AP poll. Lloyd Carr is also a fan of Ferentz.

Cons? Too many to list them all. For one, Iowa has struggled mightily the last three years and has lost some horrible games. If you thought losing to Appalachian State was bad, imagine losing a home game to Western Michigan in the season finale with a bowl on the line. That's the ultimate "what the fuck" moment for a coach. It's also not so hot to go 6-6 overall and 4-4 in the Big Ten this past year when he got to skip Ohio State and Michigan on the schedule. And can you say "off field problems"? Iowa's got way more than I can count with Ferentz at the helm. And don't get me started on the bend but don't break and don't ever blitz philosophy that Ferentz and Norm Park love on offense combined with the run, run, and run some more style he likes on offense.

Kirk Ferentz has a stellar reputation as a head coach. He unfortunately has not had much results recently and there is no great explanation why. In a best case scenario if hired, he could bring some changes off the field in terms of strength and conditioning, but it would realistically be like hiring a younger Lloyd Carr. I would hope he could keep the off the field problems away, but his track record isn't great. I'd also hope he would take a few more chances on the field but I wouldn't hold my breath. It would be a thoroughly boring choice and my only hope would be that he could prove me wrong on the field. My biggest hope would be that he would hire an offensive coordinator that had some cajones in playcalling and we'd have to wait and see who that would be.

Mike DeBord - Lloyd's buddy. You probably know him as the current (or is that soon to be former) offensive coordinator for the Wolverines. He was previously seen as the Central Michigan head coach from 2000-2003 when he lead them to a thoroughly unimpressive 12-34 record.

Pros? None. Lloyd likes him. Probably a nice guy. Wouldn't get lost driving to work in Ann Arbor. He also wouldn't need to look for a house.

Cons? Horrible resume as head coach against bad competition. I shutter to think what he'd do against the big boys.

DeBord would be perhaps the only candidate who's name has been tossed around that would make me instantly call for the heads of everyone responsible for the decision from AD Bill Martin to University presient Mary Sue Coleman.

Ron English - the current defensive coordinator for the Wolverines. English was a long time west coaster before coming to Ann Arbor having played and coached at Cal and coach at Arizona State prior to being named DBs coah for Michigan. This is his 2nd season as DC replacing Jim Hermann.

Pros? English definitely has a different attitude than Carr. He's a young and energetic coach that demands excellence from his players. He's also african american for whatever that is worth.

Cons? His defense was dominant in the first 11 games last year, but has not been nearly so hot the last 13 games. Coaching? Players? Both? I don't know, but his star has lost a little luster.

Ron English might be a very good head coach some day. I'm just not sure Michigan wants to roll the dice on him right now considering he has a total of 2 years of experience as a coordinator.

Brian Kelly - Kelly is currently in his first year at Cincinnati after guiding Central Michigan for 3 years and 13 years at Division 2 Grand Valley State.

Pros? He wins games. In his final 3 years at GVSU, the Lakers went 41-2 including a 32 game winning streak and 2 national titles. At Central Michigan, he cleaned up Mike DeBord's mess going 4-7, 6-5, and 9-4. In his last season, the Chips were the MAC champions. Now he's got Cincinnati in the top 25 in the Big East in his first season. Kelly also is a fan of a wide open attacking offense and he is not afraid to take chances. His style of play would be a welcome change of pace from what Michigan fans are used to watching.

Cons? Not many. This is his first year in a BCS conference level school at Cincinnati, but he does have plenty of coaching experience. He has also been successful everywhere he has gone. One little incident that is a knock on his resume were some comments he made to the press after some players at CMU were involved in an incident at a bar that left one man dead. Kelly made some remarks about how some of the players (who were black) were raised in a culture of violence. He later apologized. Depending on who you talk to this is either a really big deal or a really small deal. The only certainty is that nobody around the country knows or remembers this and it's really only in the minds of those looking for it.

Chris Peterson - the current head coach of Boise State, Peterson will be an intersting candidate for some big jobs over the next 1-2 years.

Pros? He lead Boise State to a 13-0 season in 2006 (his first as head coach) including a Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma and was later named national coach of the year. Not a bad debut season. He has a pretty lengthy career as an assistant coach under his belt, however. A former QB at UC Davis, he coached quarterbacks at Portland State and Pittsburgh and Oregon. He also served as offensive coordinator at Boise State under Dan Hawkins for 4 seasons, twice being named a finalist for national assistance coach of the year (Broyles Award). He is a fantastic offensive mind and definitely not afraid to take chances to go for a victory.

Cons? A grand total of 2 years now as a head coach at a small school in a small conference isn't exactly the best way to prepare to jump into one of the biggest fishbowls in the country. I'm not saying he wouldn't be successful, but he would have to make major changes to what he is used to doing. Recruiting against Ohio State for a kid from Cleveland is a little different than pitching Boise State football to a kid from Pocatello or a juco transfer.

Peterson would be an interesting hire. I'd rather go for Brian Kelly if they were really looking to make a splash because of his lengthy track record as a head coach, however Peterson is a dynamite offensive playcaller. I doubt he gets an interview, but it's not totally out of the question.

I might get into some more names later like Butch Davis, but that's I'll I've got for now.



Blogger Hal said...

When you think about it, it may not be a bad idea to look at hiring a coach from under Jim Tressel staff. There are two who are worth looking at: Jim Bollman, the Offensive Coordinatior and Jim Heacock, the Defensive Coordinator. Heacock is probably in his 50's I guess but so is Les Miles.

I would say hire a "Michigan Man" however, Bo, Moeller, Yost, Carr, were not originally Michigan Men but did well. My desire is for Michigan to get the best coach available.

I am leaning towards Les Miles and Brian Kelly

Wed Nov 28, 09:36:00 AM  
Blogger robert paulson said...

I would agree with the two that you are leaning towards. Personally, I don't care where they came from so long as they are the right guy for the job.

Thu Nov 29, 05:40:00 PM  
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