Thursday, December 06, 2007

Above the Fold: Captain Billy is sailing Michigan straight into irrelevancy

It's been utter Detroit Tigers hysteria in both the MSM and blogosphere over the past two days, for good reason. The Tigers pulled off a coup of immense proportions with their acquisition of Miggy and the D-Train, from a team standing on a Nashville street corner, with their pockets hanging out of their pants, claiming they're totally destitute, the Florida "Build us a stadium, or we'll field an AA team every season" Marlins, for every Detroit farmhand not named Rick Porcello.

It was a monster stroke of genius for a GM that seems to come up with stokes of genius on an hourly basis, Dave Dombrowski.

Unfortunately, they are having a stroke, with no genius involved, in Ann Arbor this week. A huge clusterfuck of immense proportions is occurring with the University of Michigan football coaching search.

Dave Dombrowski knows what he wants, makes a plan, then implements said plan with decisiveness and speed. Michigan AD Bill Martin, on the other hand, in the middle of his school's most important coaching search in four decades, with a fan and alumni base preparing their torches and pitchforks, ready to attack the U of M athletic department, is playing with boats.

Martin claims he has a plan to find a coach capable of running a program the likes of Michigan, but no one seems to know what it is, other than interviewing coaches who wouldn't be qualified to run a team in Madden '08.

Even worse, rumors abounded that Martin was out of reach during the Les Miles fiasco, sailing boats in Florida, as his university was being pelted with brickbats from every direction.

The Ann Arbor News' Jim Carty, tired of having smoke blown up his ass by the university, was the first writer to actually speak with Martin, and get his side of the story. What he was told by Martin was jaw dropping...

But what about LSU athletic director Skip Bertman's comments in last Wednesday's Detroit News, in which Bertman specifically said Martin was free to call the agent?

Martin says he never saw them.

The Michigan athletic director confirmed that, yes, he was in Key Largo, Fla., Friday and Saturday. At times, he admits he might have been hard to reach, because he was in meetings with donors.

Yes, at least part of the time he was sailing on his boat in the Atlantic Ocean.

Either Martin is so oblivious to the situation that he's clueless to the mechanizations of big time college football, or he's an idiot. My money's on the latter. Either way, Michigan is sooo screwed.

Martin claimed in not even talking to Miles' agent, he was following protocol, showing respect to a "Peer institution." Carty puts his feelings rather succinctly.

In the end, Martin has his principles and LSU has Les Miles.

Was Les Miles the best man to coach Michigan? We'll never have an opportunity to find out, thanks to Martin's strange way of handling a coaching search.

Martin, doing damage control, also spoke to Bob Wojinowski of the Detroit News. Martin continues to insist that all is well. ALL IS WELL!

"We established a process and I am following that process, and from my perspective it is working," Martin said Wednesday night. "It's been tougher than I thought, but it's not that the process is flawed. It's the degree of commentary and spin. Some of the stuff that people are saying is just totally off the wall. But the plan is working fine."

You mean, in light of the aborted pursuit of Miles, the backup plan?

"I don't have a backup plan," Martin said quickly. "I have a plan."

Some plan. Brady Hoke. Mike DeBord. Ron English. A few names are missing from Martin's "Plan." Bozo the Clown. The ghosts of Bo Schembechler and Fielding Yost. Rosie O'Donnell. The "Leave Britney alone" dude. Neifi Perez.

They'd do just as good of a job as Brady fucking Hoke.

Over at the MGoBlog, Brian has been slowly losing his mind over this so-called "Search." After reading in the MSM Martin's explanation for ignoring Miles agent's phone call, resulting in the weekend long, slow motion, fiasco, he levels both well written barrels towards Martin, and pulls the trigger.

For one, it's completely disrespectful to a guy who's made his love for Michigan known time and again. For two, it relies on some sort of Queensbury rules: "Dear LSU, I will be talking to your coach after the game. I plan to offer him sixteen quid a week, which is a considerable sum! West End brothels won't know what hit them! Thanks, good chaps, I trust you won't interfere. -- Sailboat Bill."

For Martin to simultaneously go "well, I never!" when LSU made their dastardly offer before the agreed-upon speaking-time and claim he's being "very aggressive" is ridiculous. It's ludicrously ridiculous and many other words that end in "ous" and generally indicate something improbable.

It's very safe to say Brian's intense unhappiness is representative of a rapidly growing concerned, and on the verge of being totally pissed off, Michigan blogosphere.

Michigan Sports Center:

Even if he was under the impression that the agreement to get in contact with Miles included not getting in contact with Miles' agent, these types of situations require that you bend your own rules. College football is not about sitting back and being nice to everyone. This is a cutthroat world and the nice guys, as the phrase says, finish last. In this case, Martin did finish last as Miles still is LSU's head coach.

Shooting Blue:

More than anything, I'm just pissed that this is starting to look like a situation where Michigan gets played by 2 or 3 more coaches to get themselves better deals. I guess it's still early after the Miles fiasco, but is it too much to ask for UM coaching position to be DESIRED? Not some turnstile for pay raises like ND pre-Weis?

Is it too late to ask Lloyd to coach another couple years? I just want this to all be over soon. It kills me that every coach in America is in the ears of every single one of UMs recruits.

Westsider Rider:

Hopefully there is a home run out there that no one is seeing that Bill Martin has his eye on. If you follow Michigan closely enough I'm sure you've come across some pipe dream scenarios on different message boards but maybe they're more realistic than we can see. At this point that's all I have to pin my hopes on. That or the fact that Bill Martin realizes he made a mistake and gives Les a reasonable offer that he will not turn down.

Straight Bangin':

Tales of a lazy, frugal effort to hire such an important figure only reinforce the growing concern that the people who run my alma mater are out of touch with the realities of college football.

Of course, this all presupposes that Miles was a preferred candidate, and perhaps he was not. It is no secret, of course, that Lloyd Carr and several of his supporters do not like Les Miles. One merely needs to read the Detroit Free Press or Detroit News to understand that a rift exists. But given that the Carr regime has ended so poorly and has left the program with a number of festering ills, I hope this group of people was not allowed to render undue judgment of Miles. It's obvious that they do not understand what it takes to win in contemporary college football, unless Michigan is now settling for consolations like its domination of Minnesota.

iBlog For Cookies

And now, with the job open 2 weeks, what are we hearing? Brady Hoke. Mike DeBord. Ron English. An interim coach for a year and try again in 2008.

None of those decisions is acceptable. They are not just uninspiring, they are unacceptable. Any one of them would be seen as an abject failure on the part of the athletic department and the athletic director. Michigan is one of the top programs in the country and the job opening here is a dream opportunity for many, to take over a national powerhouse at a prosperous time, not in the middle of a decline. The right hire could launch Michigan into a truly fantastic era for this program.

And yet we hear that we may be considering Ron English, Mike DeBord and Brady Hoke.

Think the fans and alumni are on the verge of panic now? Just wait till Bill Martin names Mike DeBord Michigan head coach. Ann Arbor would be in flames.

Bill Martin has to hit a home run with this hire. To be honest, I'm expecting him to strike out looking.

That's Above the Fold for Thurday, 12-6-07.


  1. I don't really think it matters who Bill hires. If it's a coordinator from somewhere else the blog base will be pissing and moaning that no one's ever heard of him, why this bozo, etc., ad infinitum. If it's a marginally successful head coach from a BCS conference with no recruiting base at his present job, everyone will bitch that he can't coach a lick. If it's a successful coach from a non-BCS the problem with him will be that he's never done anything at a real D-I school and he might be another John L. Smith. If it's a sort of successful coach from a BCS conference, e.g. Mangino or Pinkel, the line will be that they ran up the price and cost too damn much. Michigan is not, I repeat, NOT going to pay Urban Meyer-Nick Saban money for a coach. And, of course, because D-I coaches are essentially money grubbing scabs, they're going to use the call from Bill Martin to jack up their own price where they are now. So, settle for a coordinator that you know or a head coach you've never heard of and live with it. You can always blame Lloyd Carr for not having someone ready to step it when he retired. But, hey, Bill Callahan is available.

  2. I'm starting to like the guy from Cal- Jeff Tedford?

    Might be the best of a bad lot. But man did Martin screw this one up. Miles signed today, I hear.

    Maybe perles would come out of retirement. As a Spartan fan, it's my best hope.