The MSU coaching search…
Last week, I provided a collective list of names reported to be “in the running” for the Michigan State football gig. I then proceeded to rate them on “sexy factor” and “likelihood”. Well, things change a lot when it comes to these things, so after sifting through these names, and still more names, reading up on each of them a little more, listening to what the main beat writers and media outlets and guys like Tom Izzo are saying, I am back with an updated look at who I think should have the best shot to be the guy.
First, a reminder of all the names I’ve read tied in as “candidates”:
Butch Davis – former Miami-FLA and Cleveland Browns Head Coach
Greg Schiano - Rutgers Head Coach
Ron English - Defensive Coordinator, Michigan
Ty Willingham - Washington Head Coach
Bo Pelini - Defensive Coordinator, LSU
Brian Kelly - Central Michigan Head Coach
Todd Grantham - Defensive Coordinator, Cleveland Browns
Mark Dantonio - Cincinnati Head Coach
Pat Shurmur - QB Coach, Philadelphia Eagles
Charlie Baggett - Assistant Head Coach, Miami Dolphins
Jim Harbaugh - San Diego Head Coach
Charlie Strong - Defensive Coordinator, Florida
Gene Chizik - Defensive Coordinator, Texas
Jon Tenuta - Defensive Coordinator, Georgia Tech
Josh McDaniels - Offensive Coordinator, New England Patriots
Steve Mariucci - former Head Coach for the Lions, 49ers and Cal Bears
Nick Saban - Head Coach, Miami Dolphins
Tom O’Brien – Head Coach, Boston College
Bill Cubit – Head Coach, Western Michigan
Jim Grobe – Head Coach, Wake Forest
Next, I will put them in three tiers: Top candidates, second level and least likely to happen – based on my opinion – as well as my personal Vegas odds...
Brian Kelly. On paper, IMO, he is still 1-3 years away from being a top candidate for these sorts of jobs, but the more I read, the more I like him and think maybe you get the guy before he’s the next Urban Meyer. 30% chance.
Steve Mariucci. A week ago, I thought no way. But the way Tom Izzo is talking and being read by the people that talk to him daily (media), I have to think he is getting a heavy look and at the same time, thinking long and hard about the opportunity. Odds = 20% chance.
Mark Dantonio. I like his resume. I like his MSU and OSU ties. Not a “blow you away” name, but he’d be a solid hire. Odds = 15% chance.Todd Grantham. I also like his resume. Great Midwest ties. Again, not a “sexy” name, but a worthy candidate. Odds = 15% chance.
Ron English. Biggie Munn came from Michigan too. Young, a lot of fire. Defensive minded. Might need a MAC level gig first. Odds = 10% chance.
Butch Davis. I still think he is a reason they made a move early, but the more I read, the more he slides down the list. I truly think he finds UNC more attractive (if he really did say that) because they are a lot further south than MSU! Odds = 10% chance.
Tyrone Willingham. Obvious reasons here. Problem is, he’s happy in Washington and we ticked him off the last few go-arounds. Would be expensive but a solid hire.
Pat Shurmur. If an older, MSU tied candidate like a Baggett were to come in, I would think that he’d be brought on as offensive coordinator and be groomed to be next in line. But I am not sure that is anywhere close to where MSU wants to go this time around. Stanton gave him his endorsement – that’s worth something, I guess…
Jim Harbaugh. As I’ve said, what better way to understand how to beat Michigan than to get one of their beloved. It would spice up the rivalry a little more – from the M side anyway.
Charlie Strong. A name defensive coordinator. Young. Well thought of. But see Ron English – i.e. might need seasoning as a MAC level Head Coach first.
Bo Pelini. See Charlie Strong, Ron English. Plus he’s been passed over for the head jobs before.
Jon Tenuta. See Pelini, Strong and English. Have heard that he doesn’t interview well but he has put feelers out on his viability as a candidate.
Gene Chizek. See Tenuta, Pelini, Strong and English.
Not gonna happen:
Nick Saban. He’ll help MSU out with advice, but he’s where he wants to be.
Greg Schiano. I still predict he ends up at Miami after Coker gets fired (inevitable).
Charlie Baggett. I just don’t see it happening, unless it is a 2 for 1 with Shurmur.
Josh McDaniels. Have only seen his name linked just once and never again. Too young.
Tom O’Brien. He’s done so well at B.C., why would he want to leave?
Jim Grobe. Done great things at Wake and has some Ohio ties, but I don’t see him as a true candidate, rather just a name on the list.
Bill Cubit. Intriguing. Has done great things for Western Michigan, but not as much bang as Brian Kelly.
So, what does it all mean?
I guess you could deduce that I think Brian Kelly might be the next guy. That’s today. Talk to me tomorrow! Seriously though, the more I read, the more I think State might need to jump on this guy now or always wonder what-if. Mooch would be a big name that brings immediate attention to the program but he would have to overcome the throngs of Lions fans who blame him and not the Ford’s or Millen for that joke of a program.
The bottom line? Whomever gets the job will not be left with a cupboard as bare as what John L. Smith was left with. There is plenty of offensive firepower coming back and a few playmakers on defense, not to mention a great young kicker and a recruiting class, that if completely salvaged, is going to be one of the better classes to come to East Lansing in some time.
Stay tuned, it will be a wild ride!