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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Parsing. Michigan Sports Center has helpfully provided a transcript of the Carr press conference. Notes of interest:

"Before I take any questions I do want to address one issue of the timing of this announcement. My timing is based on one thing: What's best for Michigan. What's best for Michigan football. There are no other motives. This announcement is made at a time when the recruiting process can be handled in a way that this program can go forward. To do it any later, to do it after a bowl game, would've been absolutely ridiculous. I did it for this program, as I've tried to make all of the decisions that I've made since I've come here. So, any of those rumors about anything else... This is much to big to be about me or somebody that's gonna coach here, and I want to make that clear."
This is obviously a direct response to the irresponsible speculation going on in the mainstream media about what the timing of Carr's announcement says about his relationship with Les Miles; Carr later pointed out the precise rationale behind the "this is for recruiting" claim:
"Rather than me go out and waste visits - a head coach only gets one visit when he goes in to a recruit's home or in to his high school - this timing will enable, when that coach is named, [him to] immediately go and visit those kids and secure those commitments. Plus, we have 7 or 8 left that we wanted. It's about holding on to a recruiting class. Because if this recruiting class falls apart, 4 years from now there's a hole in Michigan football. The only important thing here is this program. It's not about me. It'd be easier for me to wait, because I wouldn't have to be here today. It's about this recruiting [class]."
If Carr were to stay on he'd either have to waste those visits or inexplicably not take them. Carr was asked directly about Miles:
"When it gets to discussing any potential candidates, I defer to Bill Martin. This process will be developed and executed by Bill, so I'm not going to get into all of the things that are his job.

I can say that there's a lot of things happening along the recruiting trail. It's a very competitive business. Those are things that you put to rest. For some of those rumors that are out there, I'm not going to answer all of them. I'm not going to talk about candidates, because that's not my job. I do want to make it clear that I'm not here to name the coach and all of that baloney that some of you have written."
This is as close as we'll ever get to an admission from Carr that he was pissed off by some of his head-to-head battles with Miles over certain recruits, most prominently cornerback Jai Eugene, who decommitted from Michigan to attend LSU late in the year. So, yeah, Carr would probably prefer someone else, but he's also made it clear that it's not his call. Also, irresponsible speculation is again bashed. For shame. Hang thy heads low, ink-stained wretches, hang thy heads low.

Carr said two things about the program going forward: Miles is not my favorite; I won't interfere if he's the choice. Given the widespread support for Miles amongst other important players (both literally and financially), that should be a small hurdle.

Meanwhile... Bill Martin also did his share of media-talking, taking what looks like a direct shot at the man in Palo Alto:
“I want to know how many driving-under-the-influence (citations) a potential coach has had,” he said. “I want to know if he's a deadbeat in terms of paying his bills. I want to know anything that is a pattern in terms of past behavior that could be an embarrassment to Michigan.”
That number is "one" for Harbaugh, two less than his count in the all-important "public outbursts that accuse the program of impropriety" category. Next.

The NYT delves into this issue more specifically:
“It was very disappointing to me,” Martin said of those comments. “It clearly did not reflect Michigan and I think if you were to talk to his teammates from that era, they would think the same.”

When asked if that would hurt Harbaugh’s candidacy, Martin said with a sarcastic laugh, “Brilliant Brilliant.”
(Have we signed a secret marketing agreement with Guinness?) Not that this is news, but Michigan isn't going to hire a guy who's won three games in I-A.

Mas. Also from Martin:
Martin said he hoped to have a new coach by the end of the year.

“That would be great,” Martin said.

... “I want to find a former high school history teacher,” he said, “because that's what Lloyd is.” Martin said he probably could find coaches who would equal Carr's winning percentage of .752. “But will they represent the university in all the ways Lloyd has?” Martin said. “That is going to be tough.” ...

“After an emotional loss, what do they say? How do they look?” Martin said. “Those are the important things.” ...

“It's far more than just winning on Saturday,” he said. “These positions aren't jobs. They are a way of life.”
The "coach by the end of the year" thing is mildly alarming. More later. Now, bitchy copyediting snark opp:
He said he would consider paying the next coach $2-3 million a year, commiserate with the top salaries in the game.


And one last article highlights an area certain rumored candidates are deficient in:
Head coaching experience: "You've got to have experience to come here. This is the winningest college football program in history. Lloyd has pushed that percentage rate up. To me that's the benchmark. This is not time to experiment (with coaches). This has to be a very careful, considered process."
This would eliminate Mike Trgovac, not that he seemed a serious candidate to begin with.

Back to the now. The idea that Michigan will press Miles for a departure soon after the SEC Championship Game is beginning to take hold in certain places, including some insider mutterings (insider mutterings that, I would like to make clear, in no way constitute anything remotely solid) that are beginning to make their way across the internets.

Miles' most recent press conference, the one in which he steadfastly refused to answer questions about his coaching future, had an interesting interlude related to this:
"It's unfair to Michigan to say that they should. It's unfair to me and my team. I promise you this, what I'm doing is what you should do — let it rest. I'm playing football for LSU. I love this team."

Miles teared up and paused for 15 seconds before composing himself. "And I'll not do anything to hurt it," he said as his voice broke. "Any questions?"

Miles finds himself in a difficult position. The job he's always coveted has come open for the first time in 40 years; this is his only opportunity to ever be head coach at Michigan. Remarkably, he is kinda sorta busy leading his current team to a potential national title.

I don't like the idea of Michigan pressing Miles to leave LSU while the national title remains in play. If the Tigers lose before bowl season, sure, pick him off and move on, but a national title is too rare an opportunity to trifle with. Miles is clearly broken up about potentially screwing this up for his players and LSU in general; if we're serious about maintaining the integrity Martin lauds as a key component of the Carr era and the program going forward we should acquire Miles in a fashion that does the least damage possible to our new coach's current set of kids. Get a commitment from him, then let him finish the year.

Besides, hiring the coach of the reigning national champions would be a PR coup that would offset whatever disadvantages there are to hiring a coach January 8th instead of in mid-December. There's a two-week recruiting dead period at the end of the year, so the functional difference there is two or three weeks at most. Michigan should wait it out.

Um. Dude.

"To give you an analogy: You always know you're going to die one day,'' punter Zoltan Mesko said. "But it's a different feeling when that day is actually here.''
Haven't you self-scouted, son? Oh, Notre Dame fans, you are so deeply hilarious at all times:
After 13 years in Ann Arbor, Llloyd Carr is withdrawing early and running like hell.

Lots of talk will circulate, as it already has, about Les Miles taking Llloyd’s place, but frankly we at HLS can’t imagine why anyone would want to take this job, in the middle of such a nightmare scenario. As Llloyd Carr has proven over the course of 13 years, you can’t do much more than kinda, sorta win half a national title and a few conference titles in an extremely mediocre conference.

Indeed. Michigan in the Carr era: 121-40, one national championship, two BCS bowl wins, five conference titles, five bowl wins, no losing seasons. Notre Dame over that same span of time: 94-62, no national championships, no bowl wins, four losing seasons. Michigan's "nightmare scenario" -- 8-4 -- is better than Notre Dame has done 6 of the past 11 years.

Also hilarious. College Football News has fallen off the radar around these parts recently, but it used to be a regular target of derision for a simple reason: it regularly publishes the dumbest stuff you can think of about college football. Pete Fiutak on the Michigan job search:
For all you LSU fans worrying about the distractions with the Michigan head coaching job opening up, let me help you sleep well tonight.

Les Miles absolutely, positively will NOT be the next head football coach at the University of Michigan.
Wow, he must have some super secret inside sources and a really good reason for saying this...
We’re talking about IBM here. We’re talking about North Carolina basketball. We’re talking about a football program that’s the equivalent of a dish of vanilla ice cream topped off with a vanilla wafer while being cheered on by 111,941 fans about as boisterous as a glass of warm milk. Miles would be a double dose of rainbow sprinkles, and that's not Michigan football.
...or he could just be making stuff up so he can deploy his awesome rainbow sprinkles analogy. This isn't nearly as bad as Matt Zemek's column/novella on the Georgia-Florida game, which I believe to be the worst single item ever written about sports, (it's apparently disappeared from CFN, or at least the link has changed, so the previous is a message board C&P) but it's pretty mindbogglingly stupid.

(HT: The Diag.)

Argh, stupid. The All Big Ten teams are fairly remarkable. Would you believe Chad Henne is the coaches' pick for All Big Ten? O rly? Ya rly. The media went with Boeckman; Kellen Lewis was second-team to both. I'm not about to comb through old All Big Ten teams, but this has to be the first time the teams have different first-team QBs who don't appear on the other team even in second place.

Also, this is a yearly complaint but whatever: the defensive teams are so frustrating. The media's first team All Big Ten defense has four defensive ends, three middle linebackers, and four cornerbacks. The coaches managed to get Iowa DT Mitch King on the first team but succumb to all corners and all MLBs, too. I could maybe see the argument that all linebackers are basically the same and the really good ones tend to get shoved into the all-important middle linebacker spot, but DEs != DTs and CBs != safeties. In the bowl interregnum I'll put together a second annual MGoBlog All Big Ten, and it will acknowledge the existence of, you know, reality.

Etc.: Carr-related quotes from the Freep; Ty Wheatley talking to CSTV re: OSU (warning: pre-game, contains woofing that sounds silly now).