Tuesday, November 07, 2006

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...

Top Candidates:
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.

Second Level:
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!


Anonymous said...

After reading your post, you obviously have no idea of what you are talking about. You read too many posts and articles from other people who know nothing. One ignorant comment repeated over and over doesn't make it a majority opinion. First off, Schiano is not going to move to Miami. He is going to get Miami money at Rutgers and doesn't want the headaches of Miami. Mariucci is a long shot, he doesn't need/want the headaches of running an overly political position such as MSU. Mark Dantonio would love to get away from the mess created by the loser President of UC, but MSU won't pick him, he doesn't have enough of a pull. Ron English moving to MSU, never in a million years, why would he move sub-laterally, he has a better job now. Butch Davis is going to NC, he considers it a better job, ACC is a better opportunity than trying to fight OSU, UM, and even PSU. Ty Willingham, Please, you couldn't pay him enough to come to MSU. Pat Shurmur or Jim Harbaugh...never. Not enough presence and they wouldn't even try to come to MSU, they have it better now. The two that you poo-pooed, Bo Pelini and Jon Tenuta are the more likely candidates. You say Bo Pelini was passed over two jobs before. Do you even know what jobs those were or did you read that somewhere? He is still in his 30's and a university president worried about money was making a conservative decision to protect their programs. Look at where he interviewed, they are doing GREAT... Syracuse and Pitt, true powerhouses. He was a polite interview at Nebraska because he was successful at rallying his team to POUND the MSU team in the bowl game. His only mistake was he was on staff with the coach that was fired. Jon Tenuta has more personality that JL Smith. (So does Bo.) They are both real, passionate and very un-phony. Good luck in trying to get someone of quality at a political mess such as MSU.

A.G. said...

Guess we may as well hang up the football program then because you seem to have all the answers. Yep, a DC would never want to move down to a head coaching gig at a school with the resources and history that MSU has.

Syracuse was in the toilet when Pelini interviewed there and for all intents and purposes, has yet to pull out. Pitt was hardly a powerhouse, but I will give you that they hired one of their beloved in Wandstedt.

This is a blog, my opinion. I am servicing the readers by taking everything I have read and gotten from my multiple sports writing sources and putting my take on it. You are free to love it or hate it, accept it or ignore it.

MSU isn't a world class job and the politics are no picnic. But it is not only a problem inherent at MSU. State will get one of the coaches that I have mentioned in the list of 20. Likely one of the top or second tier guys I noted.

Anonymous said...

I certainly don't have all the answers, but I do know that the MSU is not viewed as much of a plum job as some would want to believe. If you are an aspiring young coach, you have to think long and hard about going to a job that may destroy your future due to politics. Granted, that is the case in many places. Some coaches will stay as a DC for a period of time until the "right" job, at least for them comes up. One could go to NC and be moderately successful in terms of W/L and still be considered a genius. For example, Vanderbilt. You don't have to win but at least look good and you can be considered a genius. Look at Rutgers, they aren't a very good team, but have played a favorable schedule, which by the way will end Thursday. I hope whoever gets the MSU job has a chance to succeed, not be another in the list of revolving door coaches. I wonder if George Perles or even Nick Saban would survive there in today's environment.

A.G. said...

No arguments from me on the PAST political climate at MSU. State's biggest issue has been aloof Presidential leadership. DiBiaggio and McPherson were excellent leaders except when it came to football (and sports in general). MSU has not exactly nailed it on A.D.'s either and though Mason took some heat for the JLS process, that was more an issue of a meddling trustee (Ferguson).

Lou Anna Simon is on the ball and understands how football can help the U. I have confidence that the process and relationships this time will be different.

It may not be a plum job, but come on, it is a Big Ten gig with a newly rennovated stadium, soon to be revamped football building, state of the art student-athlete center and so on. You cannot convince me it is lesser than even a mid level ACC job (where basketball was, is and always will be king), a mid level Pac 10, Big 12, SEC or Big East job.

And you're fooling yourself if you think Miami money keep Schiano at Rutgers. The guy wants to win national titles... he won't be able to do that at Rutgers.

MSU will get a guy that people notice a lot more than Smith. Someone more on the lines of Saban or Perles who was a big land back in 1983. And, to answer your question as to how they would fare in today's political climate - it is far better today than when they were on board. I believe it will be a young guy because the right guy will be able to turn the tide and make a big name for himself. The history is there to prove it, even if that history was 30-40 years ago...

A.G. said...

Just sharing info read elsewhere here (LSJ): * MSU was interested in Butch Davis to some extent, but he's looking elsewhere.

* Steve Mariucci has to be considered a candidate until he -- or Tom Izzo -- comes out and declares otherwise. The feeling out there is that Mariucci probably won't want the job, but if he jumped all over it and declared his undying love for MSU, I think we'd see him at a press conference in a green-and-white hat before the end of the week.

* Todd Grantham, Ron English, Pat Shurmur and Brian Kelly are viable candidates. And there are others. Jim Harbaugh is not one of them, nor has he ever been.

* This is probably going to take longer than MSU fans would like to see. The search committee is doing more than looking up bios and throwing out offers. They can't afford to make a mistake on this one.

A.G. said...

Mooch is no longer in the running and Davis appears headed where he was all along (UNC). MSU interviewed Brian Kelly this week and the names that appear to be early-ish front runners based on interest are Kelly, Todd Grantham from the Browns, Bo Pelini and Charlie Strong.