The Hiring A Michigan Coach Debate… Be Smart, Not Splashy

Read the opposing argument from Babe Ruthless.

When I was assigned a post that would provide advice to the University of Michigan about deciding upon its new football coach, I initially had thoughts of rejecting it. Why would I – Lansing, Michigan born – want to help U of M do anything? Besides, Rich Rodriguez was my favorite Michigan football coach in quite some time given the fact that he never beat Michigan State. I wish they would have kept ole RichRod, and I certainly don’t want to help better the program.

However, I will carry out my assigned duty and explain to you why I think Michigan should avoid the big name, big money pick and find somebody less well known to be the next football coach.

One of the issues that many Michigan folks had with coach Rodriguez is that he was not a Michigan man. As such, I think a segment of the Wolverines’ fan base was against him from day one because he was not a “Michigan man,” or even a Big Ten man. Whether it was RichRod’s southern accent or his spread offense, I think he was too different for many of the Wolverine faithful. Given that, as soon as the losses started piling up the countdown on his tenure in Ann Arbor began. While the candidate list of “Michigan men” is dwindling since Harbaugh signed with the San Francisco 49ers, there is no shortage of big name coaches that I am sure U of M fans are ready to pay the big bucks. However, Michigan DID hire the big name three years ago, and came away unimpressed with their results. What should they do this time? Take a hint from up the road in East Lansing.

The more I thought about my assignment, the more I realized that coach Mark D’Antonio of Michigan State is the perfect example of the type of coach that Michigan should hire to be its next football coach (and Michigan State whipping boy, hopefully). Coach D’Antonio has spent a large portion of his coaching career in and around the Big Ten. His coaching stops have included Purdue (as a graduate assistant), Ohio State (as a graduate assistant), Michigan State (as a defensive backs coach), Ohio State (as a defensive coordinator), and Michigan State (as a head coach). In and around those stops he spent time at Ohio University, Akron, Youngstown State, and Cincinnati. Despite the fact that the he was born in El Paso, Texas, and played his college football at the University of South Carolina, he has spent time around the Big Ten. He was familiar with the traditions, the rivalries, and the attitudes of the conference and the individual schools. A coach like that will understand that he has to ingrain himself into the program rather than transform the program. Michigan football, as much as I am loathe to admit it, is an iconic program. A coach there has to understand that nobody perceives the football program as broken, and they’ll tolerate a bit of spread offense as long as they feel like the history and traditions of the program are honored.

At this point you may expect me to launch into a list of candidates that I think fit the D’Antonio mold. However, I refer you to the beginning of the article where I stated that I was born in Lansing, Michigan. While I have upheld my promise and written a post assisting Michigan in the hiring of its next football coach, nothing in my assignment indicated that I actually had to provide a list of candidates. So, you’re on your own, Dave Brandon. Good luck and Go Green!

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