Thursday, November 29, 2007

Above the Fold - Not many Miles to go

Now that the anti-Kirk Ferentz hysteria has finally subsided, Wolverines fans have been not all that patiently waiting for the next coaching search rumor. They've been anxiously watching for incoming and outgoing flights from Willow Run Airport, devouring message board postings, blogging and commenting like crazy, and making internet pests of themselves in general.

They've been waiting for the other shoe to drop in the Wolverine coaching search, so to speak. Well, the that other shoe Michigan fans have been waiting to drop, dropped. And it's not a rumor.

LSU announced that Michigan had been given permission to contact Les Miles about the Wolverines' open head coach position once they have played in the SEC title game this weekend.

The Wolverines' A2 fishwrap mouthpiece, the A2 News' Jim Carty, has an article about the announcement that is closer to a cut and paste job from AP wire copy than anything else.

The University of Michigan's search for a new football coach took its first significant step forward Wednesday night, as athletic director Bill Martin asked for, and received, permission to talk to Louisiana State coach and former Wolverine player and assistant Les Miles about succeeding the retired Lloyd Carr.

LSU senior associate athletic director Herb Vincent told the New Orleans Times-Picayune and other media outlets that permission had been granted and Martin had agreed to wait until after Saturday's Southeastern Conference title game between the Tigers and Tennessee before talking to Miles.

The rest of the article is just biographical stuff about Miles that is easy to find, and already well known. That he's a Michigan grad, coached under Bo, blah, blah, blah... You'd think the A2 News would have something a little more opinionated.

At the Detroit News, Angelique Chengelis goes more in depth, touching on the money issues that could cause a hiccup in the Michigan - Les Miles negotiations. LSU is prepared to open the checkbook in order to keep Miles, while Michigan is known to be, for lack of better words, cheap ass sons of bitches, when it comes to paying their coaches.

Miles earns roughly $1.8 million annually at LSU and apparently, Bertman is ready and willing to increase that salary if that's what it takes.

"I won't even visit with Les, and I don't even want to visit with him until after the game," Bertman said. "Les is straight-on focused on this game, and that is exactly what he should be doing.

"Everybody here knows we're going to put the pen to paper and put some numbers down. I have spoken to Les' agent and the chancellor of the university and the chancellor said he wants Les to stay. We will meet with his agent as soon as possible. They will come back late on Saturday, my guess is he'll have want to look at film on Sunday and unlike most Mondays, he's going to let his players go, so that's the time to do it."

LSU is may not give up Miles without a checkbook fight. At least Michigan AD Bill Martin knows that the era of their being cheap ass sons of bitches is over when he's quoted as saying...

"There's no question that we at Michigan haven't paid those top salaries -- we all know that," Martin said. "And that would be a culture change for us. I'm not opposed to it, though."

Terry Foster thinks Miles will be the new Wolverines coach, money issues and ultra-conservative, stick in the mud, old school Blues, be damned.

This one is going to be quick.

University of Michigan Athletic Director Bill Martin wants LSU coach Les Miles. And Les Miles wants Michigan. It is a match that appears to be made in heaven.

My guess is Michigan talks to Miles early next week and they hold a press conference to announce Miles as head coach later in the week. This could be a case of bam, lets get it done.

For those that find financial numbers fascinating, the News' investigative reporter extraordinaire, Fred Gerard, has obtained copies of the contracts of the Michigan coaching candidates. The links to the PDF files are located in the right sidebar. Your tax dollars are giving these guys big time money for coaching a game.

The Freep posts an article from Gannet Newspapers' LSU beat writer, Glenn Guilbeau, that touches heavily on the money situation.

Bertman did not say if LSU was prepared to offer in the $3.5 million range in a new contract, but he did say they were ready to significantly increase Miles' package.
“We met with his agent, but nothing was done,” Bertman said. “We basically agreed to meet again next week.”

Carr was making in the $1.4 million range at Michigan. Martin has said in published reports that he may go into the $3 million-a-year range for a new coach. Renovations are also coming soon to Michigan Stadium and the school just broke ground on a new $28 million indoor practice facility.

“I feel like we have to show Les that we want him to stay,” Bertman said. “We have to come up with innovative and creative ways within the system that would allow us to max out his contract. I think Les wants to stay.”

What I found interesting was the differing headlines used by the Detroit and Louisiana newspapers for the same article...

Freep: LSU AD: 'We'll do pretty much whatever is necessary to keep Les'

Gannet's Monroe, LA News Star: LSU's Bertman on Miles: ' I think Les wants to stay'

LSU is going to go down swinging in the battle for Miles, if you believe the Louisiana papers.

On the interwebs, the blogs have been buzzing. MGoBlog, which firmly has their finger on the pulse of both the Michigan athletic department, and the school fanbase, says that when news of this sort become public, it's "A strong indication Miles is a done deal." But there is other factors at work, the old Blues may attempt to throw a money wrench into the negotiations.

A significant number of people have sent in the same story: there is an old guard at Michigan strongly opposed to Miles' candidacy, while younger folk, big money donors, and those not as closely connected to the current regime support it.

Brian is of the opinion that despite the old guard digging in their heels, Miles will be named the new Wolverines head coach next week. I tend to agree...

A Michigan blog I recently discovered during my trolling for coaching news, Shooting Blue, thinks the money involved may be a bigger roadblock than most seem to believe.

Despite the title of this post, due to the monetary issues, I think this one might be far from over.

The interesting part of all this will be who will end up paying the buyout clause in Miles contract at LSU. Michigan refused to pay the buyout clause in John Beilein's contract when he came to Michigan from West Virginia. It's early in the game, but I doubt we'll be hearing a similar proclamation from Bill Martin this time.

That 1.25 million dollar buyout clause in Miles' LSU deal looms large. But Michigan has more deep-pocketed, big moneyed boosters than you can shake a stick at, so something will be worked out. Sure, when John Beilein has hired to take over Wolvernes hoops, he had to arrange payment of his WVU buyout on his own. But there is a HUGE difference between how the boosters feel about U of M basketball, compared to the football program. At Michigan, football is king, while hoops is the court jester.

Michigan Sports Center believes the Miles-Michigan dance has been going on for a while. They needed to see if the interest was mutual before anything was leaked.

The latest buzz is that an interview with Miles could happen as early as Sunday, and then if things go well, Miles could be the new head coach by early next week. I imagine Michigan has indirectly contacted Les Miles already and has found out that he is interested, so now the process is becoming official.

I'm sure there were behind closed door shenanigans that we'll never, ever hear about.

Gorilla Crouch still has reservations about Miles' coaching ability, with the LSU choke job in losing their chance at a national tile still fresh in his mind...

I thought he’d have a good shot at leading Michigan to a BCS Championship game within 3-5 years but I must admit to now having some doubts. His two losses were to SEC featherweights who went a combined 5-9 in the SEC, outside of their victory over the Bayou Bengals.

Sure, Arkansas was good in the same way Penn State was good this season, going .500 in conference and sweeping their non-conference platter of cupcakes [North Texas, Chattanooga, Florida International and Troy]. The Razorbacks were so good that Houston Nutt promptly left to coach at Ole Miss.

Those losses are the reason some factions of LSU's fanbase won't mourn the loss of Les Miles. Just as those sort of losses are why much of Michigan's fanbase is just fine with the retirement of Lloyd Carr. College football fans are the same everywhere...

That's "Above the Fold" for Thursday, 11-29-07!


  1. It's long past time Michigan started paying its head football coach a salary comparable to other coaches in the country, and I'm glad to see Martin acknowledge that.

    That football program is a frickin' money-making machine (especially after Martin's financial rehab as AD), and there's no reason to let salary even be an issue here.

    We all know the football coach is the top dog at Michigan and won't ever be paid less than other coaches in the department, so let's see it. Make a statement.

    Otherwise, Michigan will get the coach it paid for.

  2. I totally agree. Michigan has gotten off cheap over the years, mostly due to the fact that they elevated assistants in Moeller and Carr to head coach, rather than a run a nationwide search.

    To think that a football program that generates so much revenue would nickel and dime coaches is ludicrous. I'm glad Bill Martin realizes that fact, and will pay Miles (Or whomever is picked) the market rate. I'm guessing 2.5 million, thereabouts.

    Michigan can not longer play the tradition card, and say we don't pay big money, that Bo wasn't that way. Bo is dead, and college football is big business.

    You're MICHIGAN, for chrissakes! It's a program that deserves the best coaches and facilities, and should pay accordingly.