Sweaty Men Endeavors

The sports blog with the slightly gay name

Friday, March 30, 2007

John Beilein? Can't We Enjoy Some More Gossip First?

So if you were watching the NIT championship last night (and save your jokes about how we're used to watching it in Ann Arbor - I've already beat that quip to death), did it kind of sound to you as if Michigan has already found its new men's basketball coach?

Maybe it was just the announcers savoring a juicy story. Or maybe I was just trying to read into virtually every comment or gesture made during and after the game. I know there was talk around halftime that Michigan "will reach out" to John Beilein during the Final Four this weekend. But when Bill Raftery made a crack about Beilein drawing up a great play "for the Maize n' Blue!", to which Fran Fraschilla clarified, "the Maize n' Blue of West Virginia," I was beginning to think those guys knew something that the rest of us hadn't been told yet.

Obviously, Beilein had no comment after the game. How could you expect him to? He just won a tournament with his team. To talk about another job would be disrespectful to the kids who just worked their asses off for him. Pushing the issue any further might have resulted in a Roy Williams-Bonnie Bernstein moment. Of course, Williams had just lost a national championship game, so that's probably not a good comparison. But it would've been kind of amusing for Beilein to tell Fraschilla, "I don't give a $#!+ about Michigan right now."

There's been a highly entertaining debate going on between MGoBlog and Maize n Brew the past couple of days over whether or not Beilein should be Michigan's #1 guy to replace Tommy Amaker. Choosing a side in the argument probably depends on how realistic you think Michigan should be in their expectations and desires for a new head coach. Is Beilein the best guy available, the best fit for the type of program Bill Martin wants? Or should Michigan try to shoot for the moon, given the currently precarious state of basketball in the hearts and minds of Wolverines fans?

I suppose I lean more toward the shoot for the moon philosophy, though I can certainly understand why Michigan might prefer to be more efficient with their time and money. I can also see why you might want to avoid the potential embarrassment of being turned down by a top candidate only to then shuffle onto the next guy who now knows he was at least the second choice, as North Carolina did in the pre-Roy Williams days when they ended up settling on Matt Doherty after seemingly everyone else had declined the position.

From everything I've read about the guy over the past two weeks, Beilein would be a fine coach for Michigan - and not just because he appears to be the anti-Amaker. I don't think there's much question that we'd see a better product on the floor (though perhaps more in terms of philosophy and scheme than pure talent) next season with him running the show.

However, it's beginning to sound like Beilein isn't just Michigan's top choice - he might be their only choice. And that's where I start to make a face. Reports say otherwise, so maybe I'm reading into something that's not really happening. Or maybe Michigan's practicing some "I don't need no stinkin' permission" espionage, and that's why things have been so quiet up until this point.

But we've seen this enough times in the metro Detroit area to know when there's not really much of a search going on. When the Pistons fired Larry Brown, Flip Saunders was their guy. Not much of a search there. When the Tigers canned Alan Trammell, Jim Leyland was already driving to Detroit from Pittsburgh. Not much of a search (unless you count the token minority interviews). And Ken Holland already had Mike Babcock in mind for the Red Wings' job when he dismissed Dave Lewis. No search process.

You realize what this means? Matt Millen is the only one in this area who appears to have performed due diligence for a head coaching search over the past three years. And that only happened because Millen #@$%ed up his previous two searches when he jumped far too quickly on Marty Mornhinweg and Steve Mariucci.

Of course, I'm looking at this much more as a fan than an administrator. I want the sizzle that comes with reading that Michigan is talking to head coaching stars like my homeboy Bruce Pearl, regardless of whether or not that's a realistic expectation. Give me a few rising stars that other schools might also be after. (Southern Illinois' Chris Lowery is apparently on Michigan's list, so there's that. And despite signing a contract extension, Washington State's Tony Bennett might be, as well.) Even if this is serious, big boy stuff, it's just more fun with some juicy gossip, isn't it? This is why we're all here, man.

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  • At March 30, 2007 6:23 PM, Blogger Wabi-Sabi said…

    It sounded to me like the announcers were thinking Coach B might be heading to UM, but I am skeptical.

    I am biased towards him staying, but it seems like a stretch to give up his young and improving team to start coaching someone else's recruits.

    Coach wants to win a championship and the path to glory may be easier at UM than WVU and the killer schedule that comes from the 16 team Big East, but it seems like he's got it rolling here and moving seems to be a gamble.

    Personally, I think he's following the example of Rich Rodriguez - gauging his market value and counting on WVU and its boosters to ante up for him and his assistants.

    Meanwhile, the crazies on the Blue & Gold News message boards are convinced that Bobby Huggins is the answer and are ready for Beilein to leave and Huggins to come home.

    Of course these are the same folks that were mad that Beilein was hired in the first place and were convinced that Terry Bowden should be hired over Rich Rod, so they are pretty much idiots.

    Another commenter claims that Beilein is disgruntled and only talks to the AD through his agent in some kind of Marty Schottenheimer deja vu situation.

    Personally, I saw Governor Manchin in the stands and know that he is a HUGE WVU fan and supporter. I think he will find a way to back up the Brinks truck and keep Beilein.


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