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Friday, September 28, 2007

I was just wondering if you could shed some light on something for me: it seems pretty clear (at least from the remarks of most SEC bloggers) that Les Miles is regarded as a less than stellar coaching prospect. Aside from the obvious lack of restraint in press conferences (and running his mouth in general), what exactly is it that makes people think that he is a lackluster coach? His teams perform well in a brutal conference, he is working (somewhat) with his own recruits, and his playcalling seems inventive enough, what am I missing?

I think it's the perception that LSU is an unstoppable juggernaut that can only be held back by its coach. It is the proverbial gorilla with a chainsaw for a penis and any loss cannot be the work of anything but gross incompetence on the part of its coaching staff. When LSU has gacked up games it has been in remarkably undisciplined fashion. Last year's Florida loss, which featured six turnovers, is the grand bull-moose in this category, and it was a doozy. There was also that instance in which Les Miles took a timeout late in a game after LSU was the beneficiary of a turnover. Which, uh... you don't have to do. (This was not in 2006, the year of stupid clock rules.)

And then there is the other bit. This whole Les Miles-"Loose Morals" thing has been a fascinating exercise in the propagation of information in the Internet age. So a few months ago I put up a post titled "Les Miles Isn't A Candidate For Anything" in response to a Jim Carty blog post naming him the frontrunner. A large part of my thinking was based on the rumblings of certain insiders on the premium message boards of Rivals and Scout. But... uh... perhaps these are not the least biased individuals in the world when it comes to potential new coaches at Michigan? Insiders are insiders because they have contacts on the current staff. These are friends of people who have had their jobs come under threat by the prospect of change, and they're terrified of Miles coming in and cleaning house. The idea of Cam Cameron (before he was named the Dolphins' head coach) or Mike Trgovic coming in was similarly panned.

Miles got it harder than most. Why? Well, this fits neatly within the realm of unsubstantiated internet rumor (appropriate since the allegations against him are mostly in that realm as well), but said rumor goes that Miles started sniffing around the job a few years ago and this was met with extreme displeasure. Thus the rip jobs. Do they have some truth to them? Perhaps, but Miles hasn't exactly been dogged by NCAA investigators. I think I may have taken the bait earlier; now I am skeptical.

I have warmed to Miles recently because the accusations of coaching impropriety only go so far when you 1) hire Bo Pelini as your defensive coordinator 2) hire Jimbo Fisher as your offensive coordinator, and 3) replace the departed Fisher with Gary Crowton. Miles seems content to hire highly respected coordinators and act as a Mark Richt-like CEO. Whatever flaws he has are mitigated by his willingness to hire the best people available as assistants. This is slightly different than Michigan's current strategy.

There are still concerns: the loony bin he left at Okie State, "we have a new rival in fucking Alabama," and the apparent bad blood between Miles and the existing staff. All these things will be hurdles, and if Carr leads Michigan to a win against OSU and a bowl victory he'll have pull no one thought possible two weeks ago when 7-5 looked like a unicorn dream. But I think that's something that might pull Michigan towards other candiates and not an automatic DQ any more. Given the widely-held opinion that Miles is Michigan's for the asking, any clearly less attractive candidates will be hard to consider seriously.

Speaking of Cam...
Is it crazy to suggest that Cam Cameron could be an option? The Dolphins now appear to be a college powerhouse feeder and he has obvious ties to Michigan. I would say it’s a long shot, but don’t you think we’ll at least make a run at him? He’s the antithesis of Carr in terms of play calling.
Highly unlikely, IMO. Part of the reason Saban left is that he was under a lot of pressure at Miami for not being good and was likely on his way out in a season or two anyway. Cameron is in his first year as an NFL head coach. If Michigan was really going to shell out enough to pry him away from that, they should be making a serious run at guys like Tedford. This is also the big strike against Ferentz: for the money it would take to get him, Michigan could make a run at virtually anyone in the country.
Hey Brian,

I have a question about the future of Coach Carr. I'm reading all over the place that our recruits, Boubacar Cissoko, Brandon Smith, Christian Wilson etc. have been assured by the coaching staff 100% that Lloyd Carr will be coaching next year. However it seems to be a universal feeling everywhere else that this is definitely his last year, even if he wins out. My question is what gives?

I mean I know you can't announce that this is the last year because it will be a distraction all season.....but assuring these kids that you will be there, and then leaving, can make for a ugly situation come February 6th (or whenever signing day is) Thoughts?

I've read stuff like this, too, and also read things that make it sound like Carr's retirement is a slam-dunk A-1 #1 done deal. So, I don't know. The things being said to the recruits probably focus on the assistant's contracts, which are apparently all guaranteed for another year, and that Carr will have a role in the athletic department after he steps down. He will still be around. This might seem something less than convincing, and for some it is: Boubacar Cissoko is visiting Illinois this weekend.

But this happens to every school that goes through a coaching transition. Michigan will probably lose a couple recruits when/if Carr announces he's stepping down. As long as that happens significantly before Signing Day and Michigan has a coach in place shortly, things should be okay. Not great; okay.

Update: commenters report that the Cissoko visit is off, so that's good. But there have been quotes to the effect that if Carr and/or English leaves he's no longer a commit. The general point stands.

At various points during the Oregon game, I was shocked by the booing; but then I was humbled. I hadn’t stopped to consider how many Michigan fans are living their lives undefeated. I’ve never booed our team, but that’s probably because I screw up one thing or another on a pretty regular basis, and it doesn’t seem fair to pretend that I don’t. But there I was in Section 4 last week surrounded by people who apparently aren’t much like me. Imagine having gotten all A’s, being Valedictorian, playing only on undefeated teams, never making a throwing error, never tripping, never clanking a lay up, blocking all the shots, always being in the fairway, interviewing for the only job you want and getting it, getting every promotion, always receiving the largest pay increases, marrying the prettiest girl in town (who loves you dearly), having perfect kids, never getting a traffic ticket…….the mind soars.

I hadn’t thought I was sitting among so many people who live in another dimension. Who knew? I’m not going to get mad at people who boo the Wolverines any more, now that I’ve figured them out. We can only hope that Coach Carr and the players think this through as well. As hard as the team works every week to prepare to play – to do their jobs – in front of 110,000 live witnesses plus millions more who can examine every faux pas on slow motion instant replay, they have to accept the fact that they are doing all of this for the entertainment of at least some people who believe they are working even harder and doing what they do perfectly.

Maybe at the Notre Dame game, if it’s going badly, I’ll sit in my seat backward – not because I’m turning away from the team but because there may still be an opportunity in the stadium to observe perfection.

Clyde McKenzie
Hurray for stuff getting lost in my inbox. Anyway, this missive on the Oregon booing was apropos at the time. Personally, I prefer a stony silence. Booing is so gauche.

A response to the Victors query:
In response to the question about other versions of the Victors, here’s what I can tell you:
  • Hoover Street Rag – This is a ‘rag time’ version of the Victors that gets played periodically in the stands and in concerts
  • Calyptors – This is an old take on the song with a calypso theme to it. They don’t play it often, though it is a fun and complex arrangement.
  • Victors Waltz – At the conclusion of a Michigan victory you’ll notice the band swaying back and forth as they play a slow version of the Victors. They then break into the regular song. This version originated in the late 1990’s.
I think there might be another version or two from eons ago if you dig around on some of the old tapes or CDs that you can pick up at M-Den or other stores.
There was also, uh... this:

And this:

File under obscure requests:
OK Brian,

Today’s wacky Mail Bag (9/25/07) made me decide to send an email.

My question: I would love to change to look of my motorcycle helmet(s) so that they resemble the Michigan football helmet. Are those stickers available to the public? Would you happen to know where to source them? Even some very close pictures of an actual UM helmet would help.

David Ast
Any help out there?