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Friday, July 06, 2007

The argument that Michigan is a weird place, relatively speaking, that does things differently than most athletic departments is one that you can get a lot of traction with since it has the benefit of being true. There's no other major program in the country that would have a serious undercurrent of panic in its fanbase at the prospect of a man who went 12-34 in the MAC ascending to the head job. In other places, guys who win one of four games at non-BCS schools and are immediately followed by another guy who is so successful he springboards to a better job within three years are put in charge of special teams and forgotten about. But Michigan treasures loyalty, continuity, and propriety above all. So when Jim Carty says this...

Overall, Michigan is a unique situation. Don't underestimate how much that will matter.

It's a place where the next coach will not only need top-tier football coaching and recruiting skills, but a background that shows he can navigate an elite academic institution. It's also a place where hundreds of former players are actively involved with supporting the program. Those players, and Carr, will have a voice at the table.

...he's right. Mike Debord does have a shot at the job despite his unpalatable resume.

Too bad he's talking about Les Miles, who does not and, even if he does, should not. "Michigan is a unique situation" is not an argument for your most successful collegiate coaching alumnus, a guy who is currently at major SEC program that just got done hosing Notre Dame. Miles is the obvious 1A candidate based on his resume. Most places would snap him up without blinking. But Michigan is a unique situation and Miles is, um, unique too.

First of all, the guy has a verbal diarrhea that fits in at Michigan about as well as John L Smith controlled his emotions. This very week Miles said a bunch of intemperate things about the Pac 10 on a radio show that stand in marked contrast to Carr's reticence to do anything that could be construed as campaigning during the Michigan-Florida election window last December. A few months ago he told an alumni gathering that LSU has "a new rival in fucking Alabama," which is not only a sentence that can change directions radically based on punctuation ("we have a new rival in fucking: Alabama!") but the sort of public utterance that would cause the Michigan establishment to get woozy and collapse, Southern Belle style, into Mary Sue Coleman's arms. All it took for Gary Moeller to get fired was one bad night at a restaurant. Les Miles has bad nights twice a year.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. When Mike Gundy replaced Les Miles as coach he instituted, um, something other than anarchy:
"Several players said the day [new OK State Coach] Gundy replaced Les Miles as head coach he established guidelines that players attend class, be on time for team meetings, adhere to workout routines, represent the program well and play hard."
Nine kids thought these were ridiculous guidelines and left the team. And though is anything but scientific, the difference between Carr and Miles is illuminating. Carr scores a 9 of 10 and is described as a "mentor/role model" or "well respected" by eight of ten rankers; the other two went with "assertive." Miles scores a 4.4, the worst of any coach on the site save Rich Brooks and 0.5 points lower than John Mackovic, a man who had a full-scale revolt on his hands at Arizona. Five of eight players described Miles as "corrupt." Corrupt. Not mean or stupid or smelly. Corrupt.

So, yeah, it's pretty ironic that Carty links a Motown Sports Revival post and bashes it for being unrealistic. (Especially because the MSR post is explicitly presented as one man's wish list.) Rich Rodriguez has "never worked with the sort of academic restrictions he would have at Michigan," but the Okie State-LSU doubleheader qualifies Miles. Anyone with a "passing knowledge" of Bobby Petrino's background and personality knows he's not a fit for the Michigan job, but a guy who can't go two months without embarrassing himself and his school is AOK.

Lloyd Carr may not be in a position to designate his successor a la Bo, but if he says "over my dead body," that guy is out. I have a better chance of being Michigan's next head coach than Les Miles does. But it is a "unique situation," according to Carty, and Miles' "unique qualifications" make him a strong candidate. There are things that are wrong at 90 degrees to right -- orthogonal wrong -- and then there are things that obviously dropped in from a mirror universe. This is the latter. Stick to selling delcious sandwiches, Subway Jim.