|LAGE ON FOOTBALL: Michigan completes imperfect search for football coach|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 17 December 2007 14:26|
One program wins.
One program loses.
And agents always come away with more money and blame.
Michigan's search was simply the latest example that shows there isn't a flawless way for a school to look for someone to lead its football program, or for a coach to leave his former job.
Officials in Morgantown, W. Va., Ann Arbor and at campuses across the country likely would agree on that.
``It's difficult and not fun,'' Michigan athletic director Bill Martin acknowledged Monday after introducing Rich Rodriguez as the new leader of the Wolverines. ``It would be kind of nice if you had a recruiting period in there for coaches, but I don't know when you would do that. I think it would be a better playing field for everybody.
``We don't have a perfect process, particularly in football, and the bowl situation makes it harder.''
In college basketball, because there is no gap between the regular season and NCAA tournament, schools can wait for coaches to finish out before going after them, just as Michigan did when it lured John Beilein away from West Virginia eight months before taking Rodriguez away from the same school.
It's not that easy in football.
Coaching changes usually happen after the regular season - as was the case when Michigan's Lloyd Carr announced he was retiring - and waiting to contact candidates after bowl games proves to be ineffective for the suitor.
Recruiting adds another dimension with signing day in early February.
Athletic directors are supposed to ask for permission to talk to coaches at other schools, but there is no legal or NCAA requirement binding them.
When his search began in earnest on Nov. 19, Martin said he would take the high road, and he confirmed that happened when LSU announced it granted Michigan permission to speak with Les Miles after the SEC championship game.
It turned out to be a slick move by the Tigers, who were able to put pressure on Miles to agree to a new deal before Martin could talk to him about coming back to the place he played college football and was an assistant coach.
An erroneous ESPN report that indicated Miles was heading to Michigan also hindered the process and ended up making the school look like it failed to hire him. In reality Martin didn't even get a chance to offer him the job before it was too late.
Attention later focused on Greg Schiano, whose agent reportedly asked the Rutgers athletic director for permission to talk to Michigan, and Schiano ended up choosing to stay in New Jersey.
Just when the Wolverines' image as a national power was taking a temporary hit, a meeting between Rodriguez and school officials became news on Friday. Two days later a news conference was set up to introduce him as the new coach.
Martin declined to say whether he asked West Virginia for permission to talk to Rodriguez and Mountaineers athletic director Ed Pastilong hasn't said whether that protocol was followed.
Now the Wolverines seemed to have closed their search with a win, leaving the Mountaineers scrambling.
Michigan officials and fans seem to be thrilled with the hiring of Rodriguez, while many in West Virginia are miffed.
Gov. Joe Manchin blamed the involvement of what he termed ``high-priced agents'' in college sports for creating a ``back-room business deal,'' that led to the West Virginia native and former player's departure.
Rodriguez's agent, Mike Brown, dismissed such criticism.
``Rich and I talked about this, `What's the difference between a head coach changing jobs and an executive going from IBM to Honeywell?''' Brown asked.
``More people care about who is coaching their football team,'' a reporter replied.
Still, Brown didn't back down from his take.
``Coaches are human beings, who should be afforded the same privacy and grace that others get,'' he said. ``They should hear, `Thanks for your hard work, good luck in the future and I hope we can remains friends.'''