Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Miles and Michigan

I don't want to go the whole week without talking about LSU's opponent this week, but other topics keep getting in the way. Chatter is abounding regarding Lloyd Carr likely retiring as head coach of Michigan early next week, and Les Miles possibly being the next Michigan coach.

Let me get some points out there real quick. I take it as a given that Lloyd Carr will retire. It's been rumored all year, and now there appear to be multiple sources within the Michigan athletic department saying it is imminent. I also take it as a given that if Michigan makes a serious offer to Les Miles, he will take it and go to Michigan. With Miles, we've known all along that if the maize and blue comes calling, he would leave.

What I do not take as a given is the prospect that Michigan will offer the job to Miles. Message board chatter has always been that the Michigan fans aren't exactly unanimous in their respect for Les Miles. Hiring Miles wouldn't be a universally popular move among Michigan fans. Yes, Miles is a Michigan man, but he is also reportedly not high on Lloyd Carr's Christmas list. This goes back to reports of splits within Michigan boosters among the Schembechler faction and the anti-Schembechler faction. Miles is a Schembechler protege, and Carr is a card-carrying member of the anti-Schembechler faction. If Carr is going to have a say in choosing his replacement, one can imagine he won't put in a good word for Miles. All of this comes from chatter, and may not be totally accurate, but it's what's out there.

But that's not the theme of this entry. My main point (and I know I have buried the lede beyond all imagining), is that I am happy all this is coming to a head. For the record, I like Les Miles, and I really want to keep him. I want him to be the head coach at LSU for years to come. I think he's building this program to new heights year after year. I think he is a very good CEO-style head coach, and we are lucky to have him.

However, we knew that Lloyd Carr's retirement/firing was coming eventually. If not this year, it would be next year or the year after. Every year that Carr stays at Michigan is another year that opposing coaches can use it against us in recruiting. Coaches like Urban Meyer, Ed Orgeron, and Mark Richt can tell recruits, "Are you sure you want to go to LSU? You know Miles probably won't be there in two years." That impacts recruiting.

The good news here is that we won't have to face that anymore. I think Michigan is probably the only place Les Miles would voluntarily leave LSU to go to, and that will either happen now or it won't happen for quite some time. Once Michigan has its man, they will keep him for a minimum of three years, and likely 4 or 5 even if he is not particularly successful. Therefore, if Miles is not hired by Michigan, there is no prospect of him leaving LSU any time in the near future.

If Miles leaves for Michigan, we will have a new coach in place before recruits have to fax in their letters of intent, so no recruit will have to sign with LSU without knowing who will be his coach. Once we have our man, we won't lose him for at least 3 or 4 years, minimum, so players can be secure in knowing they'll have one coach for most if not all of their careers.

The worst case scenario is for this to play out for years and years like it did with Saban. Every year the question was, "Is he leaving this year," until one year he left. We won't face that with Miles.

As for early speculation on who we would hire, let me just throw a few names out there:

Mike Price: He of "It's Rolling Baby" fame. He is a top-shelf coach though, and he would have been great at Bama. What's more, he seems to have been at least partially vindicated regarding that ugly incident. Price is going to get a big-time gig again one day, and he is, like I said, a really terrific football coach. Besides, we have John Brady, so we can't exactly complain about a guy having a tumultuous personal life.

Bobby Petrino: I just have a feeling he may not be pleased with his current NFL gig, considering he took it thinking he'd have Mike Vick to play with. He brought Louisville to prominence, and they collapsed right after he left. Is that good? Or is it bad? He's a big name who may be available, and who would probably come into Baton Rouge and keep things going.

Rich Rodriguez: We know he's open to leaving West Virginia. We also know he's an innovative young coach. I think we would be a better fit for him than Bama as well, considering our athleticism on the offensive side of the ball.

Greg Schiano: He's probably the only young coach with real buzz the way Urban Meyer had buzz a few years ago. There's a lack of that kind of coach available on the market right now. Schiano has worked miracles at Rutgers, but is it all because of Ray Rice? Would Schiano be the next Curley Hallman, who made his career by taking credit for Brett Favre's accomplishments?

Jeff Tedford: It would take a fortune to get him, but he's a really respected coach who would create buzz.

Bo Pelini: I don't buy it. I don't think he's head coach material. He's stiff with the media and there's no indication he's got the CEO mentality a modern head coach needs. I think he's a very good coordinator, but if he's a head coach, he's going to have to prove it elsewhere.

Major Applewhite: Once again, I don't buy it. I don't mind at this point if he's the next LSU head coach, as long as that's about 5 years from now, or more. LSU is a pressure-cooker of a job, and it's not for entry-level candidates. He has to prove himself at a smaller program first, in my opinion.


Rybu said...

Good blog!

The one thing I would correct is that there "appears to be multiple sources within the Michigan athletic department saying it is imminent". What the AD has said is that a DECISION/Announcement won't come until after the game. This story got legs because national reporters wanted more spice for the game since both UM and OSU lost this past week.

Could you explain to me the pro and anti-Schembechler factions? I've never known Carr and anti-Schembechler to be in the same blog.

Saban Sucks. If this happens, best of luck to a hell of a football team!

Richard Pittman said...

I can't say I really know about all that. It's just stuff I've heard by keeping my ear to the ground. It could very well all be bunk, but what I've heard is:

a) Michigan boosters and officials are torn between the Schembechler faction that wants to maintain ties to the past and keep everything in-house and traditional and a faction that really wants to move past the Schembechler days.

b) Lloyd Carr is an anti-Schembechler guy, and he effectively submarined the Schembechler guy who came before him. In the Carr era, the anti-Schembechlers have had the upper hand politically, but that may not last.

c) Miles is very much a Schembechler man. To Miles, Schembechler was a father figure, and is the primary reason that Miles feels such strong pull to Michigan. Schembechler is, in fact, the reason Miles is even in coaching rather than toiling anonymously in business somewhere. Miles, in essence, wants to be the next Schembechler, and he wants to do it at Michigan.

d) The fight at Michigan, according to this theory, comes down to a fight between the two factions. The Schembechler faction may really want Miles, and he would seem to be the logical choice, but may be thinking otherwise. We don't know. The anti-Schembechler faction most certainly does not want Miles.

It's sort of like Bama, where you have this great reverence for the Bear, and want to have coaches in place with ties to him, but also a group of people don't want that. For years, coaching hires at Bama turned on whether or not a person had ties to Bear Bryant. Before Dennis Franchione, only one coach in Bama history post-Bear had no ties to him. That man was Bill Curry, who still holds the Bama record for highest winning percentage as a coach in history. But they fired him.

The Bear faction appears to be waning in power, but they still rear their heads at times, and the betrayal by Dennis Franchione and the embarrassment of the Mike Price debacle gave them the fuel they needed to go out and hire a guy like Mike Shula, who is sort of like a grandson of The Bear, having been coached by someone who was coached by The Bear. The failure of Shula re-emboldened the people who want to move on from Bear, and they never seriously considered an in-house sort of hire this time around.

But I digress a little. This might all be bullshit about Michigan. I really don't know. It's just what I heard.

gerry dorsey said...

i agree with you about pelini and applewhite, and kudos to lsu if they can get any of the other candidates, but i'd tap the brakes on mike price. the guy is 61 and having trouble winning in the freaking wac. i understand he doesn't level he's used to, but neither do any of his opponents.

Anonymous said...

to call lloyd carr part of any "anti bo" faction is laughable. bo and lloyd were incredibly close. don't know where you get this information from. miles is no more a bo guy than lloyd is. lloyd will have more say in the coach than anyone, but there's no split that would prevent him from endorsing miles. if miles wants the job it's his.