Saturday, December 08, 2007

Who Will Be Michigan's 4 Million Dollar Man?

Fred Girard wrote a nice article today.

Does Martin have a choice, other than to spend the money needed to compete for one of the handful of white men the media have ordained candidates?

No, says David A. Brandon, a man thoroughly familiar with the business world. Brandon, chairman and CEO of Domino's Pizza, was a U-M regent for eight years.

"The marketplace is one that's easy to identify," Brandon said. "It's very clear to see what you have to pay to get an outstanding coach, and truthfully, you would want a coach who wants to be paid fairly.

"The talent that's out there and capable of running and succeeding at a big-time program like the one at Michigan, that talent knows that it's talent, the marketplace knows that it's talent, and you're going to have to pay for that."

And, Wojo says we should revisit Les:

Martin and others at U-M had much of the autumn to mull their move, knowing Lloyd Carr was expected to retire. The lack of decisiveness is a concern. I don't think it's incompetence; more likely, it's naivete.


Michigan isn't different, and that means it must be more aggressive in its courtship and in its financial commitment. Should Martin revisit the Miles candidacy? He should try. Last I checked, Miles has a team in the national championship game, has a 33-6 record at LSU, has deep Michigan ties he proudly extols, has the same $1.25-million buyout clause in his amended contract and has the rabid support of many former players and alums.

Again, it would take incredibly tricky maneuvering, and it's a longshot. It's also silly to think Miles is the only ideal candidate. There are others, although U-M is learning the hard way they're not so easy to find, or land.

But, Woj, we already have Les wrapped up as our expensive fallback. And, Girard points out that Schiano's contract wasn't 1.6 million, but instead it was upped to 2.3 million last February. The only rumor about salary discussions to have occurred between Schiano and Martin, and it was not a credible quote or source, was that Schiano might have been offered a similar package to what he earned last year. That would be less than he was making at Rutgers.

If Bill Martin is anything, he is a shrewd business man. Do you really believe, that if he wanted Schiano, he would have offered less than he was making right now? I don't. There will be many a cynic that say, "Michigan wants to pay less than the going rate, they're living in the 1960's and relying on the program's storied history.

Or, there is another explanation. There are some regents, as pointed out by Girard, that salary coaches are just too high. That we shouldn't be paying BIG CASH for a football coach. That we should be looking to the Chuck Martins or Brian Kelleys of the world. And, he is right. We should be able to pay less. And, we could probably find another Bo. But, is now the right time to do that? His thought process:

"Any time you go after a top coach at another school who's already making over a million dollars, you're going to pay a lot of money," said another regent emeritus, Muskegon attorney James L. Waters. "There are many coaches out there around the country that could do as good or a better job at less money" -- citing Brian Kelly of Cincinnati, Chuck Martin of Grand Valley State and Butch Jones of Mid-American Conference champ Central Michigan.

"You can get someone like that probably for half the money you'd pay Miles -- even less, probably a third. I don't think I've seen any black coaches mentioned, either. I know there's a lot of top assistants out there, there's some in the pros that would do a good job.

"I think we're missing out on a lot of good people, and for a lot less money. The costs are escalating so high, the season-ticket prices are just unreal. If you want to get into any of that favored seating, you pay a $500 donation, plus a season ticket is $900."

I pay a LOT for tickets. I pay a LOT for golf course tailgaiting. I understand and to some extent agree with his position. But, Michigan Football is the flagahip of our school. It is, as Bill Martin pointed, the first thing people think of when they see the UM.

By the way, Regent James L. Waters, from Muskegon, that's the same Brian Kelley that just wanted to renegotiate his Cincinnati contract (a five year deal) after ONE year. Yeah, that's a guy we can count on! But, he's really only representing his constituency in West Michigan by plugging the former and current GVSU coaches. At least he's not hiding it.

The major media, and many blogger fans, (a/k/a "blog fags" -- a term I just learned that aptly describes my incessant need for updates on the coaching search) are taking this coaching search as a royal clusterfuck. I'm not so sure.

Martin has spoken to or visited with the following:

Ferentz. Who is paid about 4 million each year, and is friends with Mary Sue Coleman. A favorite of Bo and Lloyd. He was contacted in deference to those three, and likely has also been used as a source by Bill Martin to evaluate coaches, and even perhaps as a contact point with other coaches. Mary Sue and Lloyd both trust Kirk Ferentz, and know his reputation to have a tight lip. Expect Ferentz to have been involved in discussions with the lady who hired him about how to structure an attractive deal for a top tier coach. Ferentz would also speak favorably of the UM and Mary Sue. So, who would Kirk contact on behalf of Michigan? What pro or college coaches does he have relationships with? Who is he in a position to evaluate?

Les Miles. Through backchannels -- mainly Johnny Wangler I assume. According to Scoop Herbrsteit, the salary and coaches were already worked out with Les. This is normal operating procedure, and does NOT reflect that an offer would be coming. That salary discussion: 2.5 million. Now, Les probably didn't think that was enough. And, it is certainly not beyond Les to try to up the ante. As Les has said, he loves Michigan, and he would leave, but he does want to be fairly compensated (actually I believe that was a quote from Wangler about a month or so ago). Les' comment that the AD here wants me is an obvious reference to Bill's alleged unavailability on the night before and morning of the SEC championship game. But, was probably also a reference to Michigan to come to the table and "pony up". Of course, if you're Michigan, why pony up at that point if you're not even sure you want him? Pay is relative. Does Michigan want to make Les Miles one of the top ten paid coaches? Top five? Is he really worth that cash?

Brady Hoke.
With Brian Kelly out of consideration, for relatively obvious reasons having to do with his tenure at CMU and penchant for constant politics, he is not and will not be a candidate. Lloyd nor Bill could trust him. Could you imagine Lloyd Carr or Bo Schembechler asking to renegotiate their contract after the first of a five year deal? I don't think so. This is an effort, hopefully to find out what an opponent thought of Schiano, and, perhaps, contact to the equivalent of a Brian Kelly/Chuck Martin candidate. And, Lloyd and Bill know and trust Hoke and Terry Malone. They can certainly be a source used to evaluate and contact other coach candidates -- much as Kirk Ferentz.

Greg Schiano. A good coach. A coach who cares more than just about winning, and has a track record Michigan would strongly consider. I would have been happy with a Schiano hire. I've watched that team interest for 3 to 4 year, and saw a Mini Michigan. The Schiano interview was likely a serious interview for Bill Martin to evaluate him. Dollars were not discussed, but it was probably made clear to him that any offer that might be made would be in the ballpark of Miami and his current salary. Why? If Michigan is stuck paying 2.5 to 3 million, shouldn't you know who else will be willing to take that job for the same amount that's on your list? In other words, for approximately the same money, would Michigan want Miles or Schiano? While blog fags seemingly would choose Miles, I don't think Martin or Lloyd would see that the same way.

Ron English.
A must interview, out of respect and to satisfy the minority requirement, if nothing else. If the coaching search is as bad off as Colin Cowherd and the rest of the media wacks make it out, he could end up as a permanent coach. As for me, I don't think so. I have confidence that Bill has been working on this for some time, and may have this thing already wrapped up. You can't announce a coach has taken a job who's in the NFL or a BCS bowl until after the bowl. If Ron English is named coach, it will most likely be on a temporary basis, until January 8 or upon conclusion of the NFL coach's season.

Mike DeBord. Well, yeah. He was interviewed out of loyalty to the program. For nothing more or less. He deserved the opportunity for his service here. He will not be the coach.

So what to make of this.

Either this: Michigan has formally interviewed, in Schiano, one of its 7 candidates. He is now off the list. Doubtful, though I think he would have been a good hire, that he was in the top 4. Les will be interviewing this weekend, or may already have done that. Les is probably in the 4-5 area on that list, depending on who at Michigan is doing that ranking. Ferentz was on the list, and removed his name -- though Ferentz may also be acting as an intermediary and is consulting with Michigan in landing a really big coach. Who are the remaining top candidates? And to those of you who doubt that Lloyd Carr, who reveres this program as much as a man could, who would NEVER put himself above the program, then call me a Lloyd apologist.

Or, for ye of little faith this: Ferentz and Les Miles were Michigan's number one candidates. A split in the AD was between Ferentz and Miles, and Lloyd has done everything possible to avoid a Miles hire. Lloyd and Mary Sue pursued Ferentz hard, but couldn't sway him to leave Iowa. Martin wanted Miles, but boondoggled the inteview process by sailing in Florida when he should have been assuring Les that he was THE GUY. Martin got frustrated and moved on. He's now seeking second tier candidates.

And, in light of David Brandon's comment, who by most accounts is quite involved in this search, Michigan IS going to pay a competitive salary. This comment is not out of line with what Bill Martin said at Lloyd's retirement presser: That he willing to consider big cash, and that to do so would be a change in the culture around here.

If we are really going to pay the big money, the top candidates appear to include: Stoops, Gruden, Meyer, Rodriguez, maybe Cowher? (though we would not have waited this long if he had interest since he's not currently employed). Does Les really deserve to be paid that kind of money? Probably not. He's a wrung below, and we can probably get him for the 2.5 to 3 million range, even if he wins the MNC.

It is worth remembering the way Bill Martin conducted the hoops search less than a year ago. Michigan fired Tommy. Bill Martin had identified Beilein as a coach he was interested in even before firing Tommy. As he said, he filed the information away. When it came time to fire Tommy, we conducted a search, but, the search wasn't really a "search". We got the guy Martin wanted all along. But he WAITED until after the coach's season was over to pursue that interest publicly and nail down a deal. When it was said and done, Michigan agreed to pay Beilein twice what it was paying TA. All the while, fans saying that Michigan won't pay its basketball coach. Michigan isn't committed to the basketball program, etc. etc. Martin surprised many with that hire. He surprised many with the salary. I think it was a great hire, and so do most others.

Do you really, after having any rational thought (no, I don't mean the emotion reaction that, holy bejeezuz, we're screwed because we so and so withdrew his name)think that Bill Martin had names filed away in his head for this job. That Bill Martin, the guy that agreed to double TA's salary, would not AT LEAST double Lloyd's to get the coach that will define Martin's legacy here? And if we're talking about at least doubling 1.6 million, where does that put us? In Ferentz territory. And who will be Michigan's 4 Million Dollar Man? Oh, and you don't believe we're going to pay that, do you. Remember that Adidas contract? 8 Million annually. It wouldn't surprise me to see us lock in that top tier coach now, for at least a five year contract to coincide with the Adidas contract. Maybe up to ten years since Michigan can extend that contract, at its option, with a guarantee of nothing less than that 7 million, but with the upside of annual cpi adjustments and a GUARANTEE that Michigan will receive more money than ANY OTHER SCHOOL with which it has a contract.

About that contract, according to Bill Martin:

I'll name some of the unique features in this contract. There is a $6.5 million signing bonus. There is never a signing bonus. We're going to get it in two weeks. What am I going to use it for? I have to finish up this facility stuff and get Crisler going. If I had any spare bucks, it'd go into endowing scholarships. It's pretty simple.

We've got an annual (Consumer Price Index) escalator. Annual.

We got a most favored program clause. There's never going to be an Adidas school that gets a nickel more than us, either in product or money.

And, Bill negotiated the deal so that we've got that amount locked in for up to 13 years.

Q: It's interesting to me how much that particular clause has meant to your fans. It's gotten a lot of buzz.

Martin: Did it? That's a pride factor. Nobody is going to be better than us. I'm glad they recognize that, because it was important to me. It makes me feel like I did my job.

The other thing we received is that ... you know, markets go in cycles. Eight years from now, who knows what the situation is going to be economically. The market may be way below where it is now. I've seen that happen in my business career. Well, guess what? We have the option to extend. It's no lose. If the market's gone up, we negotiate a new deal. If the market's gone down, we say we like this deal and we'll keep it another five years.

So lay off of Bill. Dufek, Leone, and all of you former teammates of Les Miles: Knock it off. Les is campaigning for a job for which he is not the best candidate. I don't blame him. I would do the same to return to my beloved alma mater. But, Les, I don't think you're Michigan's 4 million dollar man. He's already told you that Miles is campaigning for the job. Lloyd has already told you that Michigan was going to hire the best coach in the country. Write that down, and take it to the bank. Call me after our hire, and I won't say "I told you so", but I will ask you to apologize to Bill Martin, Lloyd Carr and Mary Sue Coleman.

As to who that $4 million dollar coach is for Michigan, I think Bill, Lloyd, and Mary Sue already know who it is, and it's not Les Miles.