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