Between Andrew Luck’s stunning decision to return to Stanford, reporters tripping over themselves on the Jim Harbaugh beat, the NFL playoffs, and Monday’s National Championship, Michigan AD Dave Brandon has had time to stealthily operate in search of a football coach. The word on the street is that this will be wrapped up by Tuesday, Wednesday at the latest.
What we’ll be watching for over the weekend: agents who are trying to pump up their coach in the media, even though Michigan has no interest in them. Take Randy Edsall-to-Notre Dame last year.
Edsall, we hear, was never a contender at Notre Dame. He wasn’t on the target list. Or the fallback list. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick had zero interest in him. Yet Edsall’s agent did a solid job of pushing him to mainstream media outlets, and presto, Edsall is a “hot” name because Notre Dame’s looking at him. (Obviously Edsall did wonderful things at Connecticut. But there’s a reason more than a handful of people are skeptical/unimpressed by Edsall landing at Maryland.) If you see a ‘huh?’ head-scratching name linked to Michigan, it could just be that his agents has a good connection with a certain media member.
Back to Michigan. While we don’t expect the Wolverines’ search to be quite as fluid as Jim Harbaugh Stanford-Michigan-Miami-San Francisco-Denver mess, Michigan’s could get topsy-turvy in the coming days.
After Harbaugh pulled out last weekend and Brandon fired Rich Rodriguez, it was obvious San Diego State coach Brady Hoke was instant favorite. But we’re hearing that while he’s definitely an option – the guy would crawl from Qualcomm Stadium to Ann Arbor for the job – Brandon is going to explore a few other opportunities first.
* Brandon tried to get Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald in for an interview, but was rebuffed. Fitzgerald, only 37, has built a nice program at Northwestern, and the culture surrounding that program right now is outstanding. We hear those are two keys in Brandon’s search – rebuilding the football culture in Ann Arbor (Rich Rod did himself no favors there), and getting someone who plans on staying at least a decade.
* This strangely-worded piece on Bo Pelini is interesting on a couple of levels. Is this agent-floating bullshit? Remember, Pelini’s name was mentioned in connection with the Miami job last month. (Maybe that was Pelini looking for a raise? And this is, too?) With Nebraska going to the Big Ten, this would be a very interesting move. Pelini seems like a bit of a hot-head for my liking, though. [This morning, an AP reporter said Pelini told him he has no interest in the Michigan job.]
* Gary Pinkel. He’s done some great things with the spread offense at Missouri. His QB, Blaine Gabbert, is leaving early for the NFL. The drawback – he’s 58. Six bowl games in a row, occasionally knocked for his inability to win the big game. Oddmakers might make him 50:1 … on a good day.
* Gary Patterson. I’m not a Michigan fan, but if I were, this would be the guy I want. (This incident notwithstanding.) Coming off a Rose Bowl victory (36-3 in the last three years), Patterson’s stock will never be higher. Also, he loses his QB, three wide receivers, four offensive lineman, and seven seniors on defense. Obvious drawback – his TCU roster was Texas-heavy. Can he recruit the Midwest? (Patterson is from Kansas, though.) Biggest question, though, would be whether or not he’d leave the empire he built with the Horned Frogs moving to the Big East. That’d be devastating for the Big East and of course, TCU.
* Had Utah’s Kyle Whittingham on my initial short list but apparently, but it doesn’t look like he’s made the cut.
* If Michigan pulled off Boise State’s Chris Petersen, that’d be incredible … just don’t see it happening.