Monday, March 19, 2007

Whatever This Is?: Emergency Session!

Craig B.: Welcome to an emergency session of Whatever This Is!

Craig B.: Yes, we can have emergency sessions!

Geoff Z.: That's what happens when a major coaching shakeup goes down over the weekend.

Craig B.: Indeed...And yet, from what I have gathered, it maybe should have only happened today

Craig B.: But you can't always control the news cycle

Geoff Z.: Really? You heard they were trying to hold it until after the weekend?

Craig B.: I have read implications in various MSM columnists that indicate that because Bill Martin was out at the Palace for the Wrestling National Championships, he didn't want to handle things until Monday. I disagree with that though, because Martin is smart enough to know, if he does it, it's not going to stay under wraps

Geoff Z.: Right. A weekend meeting with Amaker's going to result in phone calls to both parties and a generous helping of inference even if both issue denials.

Geoff Z.: You saw the letter from Amaker I posted earlier?

Craig B.: But that really isn't the point. The point is, after six seasons as the head coach, Tommy Amaker was let go by the University of Michigan.

Geoff Z.: Regardless of what Jay Bilas wants to say, the Michigan job is the top one available in the country right now.

Craig B.: And I have to say, that is a really classy move on Tommy's part. I don't think that anyone can say that Tommy has ever been anything but classy and "a good guy." The problem is, this is a results oriented industry, and the results weren't there.

Craig B.: Right now. It's a Big Ten job, it's a name school, and it's low pressure, high celing.

Craig B.: Right now Geoff, wouldn't we be happy with seeing Saturday or Sunday of the first weekend of the Big Dance?

Geoff Z.: We want results, but in this case "results" = an appearance in the NCAA tournament.

Craig B.: It's not a huge thing to ask.

Craig B.: Now, here's my one issue before we talk about candidates

Geoff Z.: There should be several coaches available that can provide that at Michigan if not in Year 1, than by Year 2.

Geoff Z.: OK. So who's your #1 candidate?

Craig B.: Is Michigan's issue really one of facilities? Or is it that coaches know that Michigan is football first, second, and probably fourth when it comes to athletics? Or is it something else? Is it scandal, the past, some kind of other thing?

Craig B.: You're not going to like it.

Craig B.: Stan Heath

Geoff Z.: You're not entirely wrong.

Geoff Z.: Heath is obviously a guy who can take a program to the tournament.

Craig B.: I'll explain my reasons thusly:

Craig B.: 1). He's a Detroit guy, went to DCC, played at Eastern, coached at State, took Kent on a run (with Antonio Gates IIRC), and has gotten better every year with the Razorbacks.

Craig B.: 2). He isn't popular in Fayetteville, but his style is not what Razorback fans like.

Craig B.: 3). His style is well suited to the Big Ten and he is someone who knows the Midwest and knows the pressure of coaching in a Big Six conference.

Geoff Z.: He's taken Arkansas to the tournament, which is decidedly un-sexy as a name school, although they definitely have a facilities advantage.

Geoff Z.: My problem is that I think that he may have reached his ceiling.

Craig B.: And that is a good counter. I don't know if you're right, but I don't know it's right to find out.

Craig B.: Who is your top candidate

Geoff Z.: Well, I think you have to take Tubby Smith if he's available.

Craig B.: OK, let me say he is my #1 choice as well, but I don't think he'll be available.

Geoff Z.: He comes with a big price tag attached (and not just his base salary -- He'd have facilities demands, and he would probably make Lloyd's salary go up too)

Geoff Z.: You take him if you can get him.

Craig B.: Which will in turn, make Lloyd's successors price tag go up

Geoff Z.: I have a feeling Tubby's situation at UK may be much like Lloyd’s last season – a media fabrication/contriversy where people are unhappy, but not about to fire a proven winner

Craig B.: But Geoff, I know I don't even believe this, but don't you think that Kentucky basketball fans take UK Basketball a little more seriously than we Wolverine fans take football?

Geoff Z.: I think the pressure exerted on UK by Louisville is bigger than MSU's on Michigan (at least recently), but I think it's a solid enough analogy.

Craig B.: And also, we have four pro sports teams to focus on, where as UK has, well, UK basketball.

Geoff Z.: More reasonably, I think Todd Lickliter would be a good get for Michigan.

Craig B.: But that isn't the point. The pressure on Tubby is tremendous, and it's probably unfair, just as it was last season with Coach Carr.

Geoff Z.: Butler’s not quite a no-name school, but it’s not at the front of the line when IU and Purdue are in-state and Champaign’s not a far drive, to say nothing of Notre Dame, DePaul, or anyone else in the neighborhood. I think it’s clear that Lickliter gets the most out of his players, something sure to pay dividends with Harris, Legion, and (hopefully still) Grady coming to town.

Craig B.: I agree. I like Butler's style of play, I like Butler's tenacity, and the willingness to make the tough schedule.

Geoff Z.: I don't know if Lickliter would view Michigan as a stepping stone, but bringing the program back would be good enough for me.

Craig B.: Can I say this...Despite my dad growing up across town concurrently with Lon Kruger, I am not a fan of him coming in here.

Craig B.: If what we want to avoid is another scandal, I don't get a good feeling about a guy who never stays at a job very long.

Geoff Z.: Reasons? Or just a feeling?

Craig B.: It's nothing proven, it's just a hunch

Geoff Z.: That's fair enough.

Craig B.: I'll be totally honest though...

Craig B.: I don't know enough about college basketball to know who the "get" guy is. So I am going to trust that if Bill Martin is the hoops junkie he is claimed to be by sources, he'll make the right call. Because he needs to put his stamp on something.

Craig B.: And if it means building a practice facility, so be it.

Craig B.: If it means reupholstering the seats in Crisler Arena so they look like 1990s vintage as opposed to the 1967 originals, so be it.

Geoff Z.: I think the practice facility will come sooner rather than later, because that's the easy part of upgrading the facilities.

Geoff Z.: And if we score an exciting new hire who brings a whiff of success, the donations will look after themselves.

Craig B.: If it means paying Coach Carr a little more to reassure him he's Lord High Poobah of the Athletics Campus, so be it.

Craig B.: But Mr. Martin needs to make the right call here.

Craig B.: He's going to have to hire a football coach sooner than later, (and probably a hockey coach), and we need the right guys.

Craig B.: So let's start with a small step

Geoff Z.: Agreed. Given all that Maize 'n' Brew and MGoBlog have been working up, I've got some impressions of a few more names that have been floating around.

Geoff Z.: Larry Brown Syndrome is the reason I don't like Ernie Kent.

Geoff Z.: Chris Lowery (Southern Illinois)

Geoff Z.: Southern Illinois isn’t a name school, but it should be. They’ve consistently made the tournament since before Lowery got there, so I don’t know how to totally evaluate the job he’s done in his shortish tenure. They did just kick Virginia Tech’s teeth in, though

Geoff Z.: Tony Bennett (Washington State) -- Made his mark using dad’s mind-bending defense to send the Cougars’ moribund program to the big dance as a 3 seed before losing in the second round to Vandy. It’s his first year as a head coach so there’s a lot of risk here, but who knows?

Craig B.: Will he leave his heart in Pullman?

Geoff Z.: Tony Bennett has got to be ever lazy column writer's dream-come-true. Mitch Albom is practically foaming at the mouth at this prospect.

Craig B.: Wait, that implies Mitch still writes...oh, I see your point

Geoff Z.: The "No Way In Hell Is This Actually Happening" Camp -- Bruce Pearl, Bill Gillispie, Rudy Tomjanovich, Rick Majerus.

Geoff Z.: None of these guys will end up at Michigan. Pearl and Gillispie may not be at traditional powers, but they’re winning at programs where they’re beloved. Why exchange one gig where you play second fiddle to the football team for another? And I’d love to have Rudy T, but he’s got health issues to contend with. Majerus is a heck of a coach, but I’d have to stop saying mean things about Charlie Weiss’s weight. His health problems may rank above Rudy’s, and I really don’t want a coach dying on us.

Craig B.: Here's my horrifying question

Craig B.: Could Bruce Pearl handle that the LOUD jacket for Michigan would be a Navy Blazer, like he's going sailing?

Craig B.: Pearl's third fiddle in Knoxville, let's not deny this

Geoff Z.: Ha! You know he's showing up at a hockey game to dance with the band.

Craig B.: With Jack Johnson's dad?

Geoff Z.: You live in the lovely fantasy world where Jack's back for another year, I see.

Geoff Z.: If Pearl gives up Tennessee to come here, I guess why not throw that in too.

Craig B.: No, I am waiting for KMFJ

Geoff Z.: Ah, Johnson the Even Younger.

Craig B.: My dad would never wear a CMFB shirt for me. My mom might, but she hates the f-bomb.

Geoff Z.: That's why the Kings haven't signed you yet.

Craig B.: Touche. We should wrap this up, as it makes a perfect segue to our regular WTI on Thursday at 10. You need to conserve battery power

Geoff Z.: Right.

Geoff Z.: Finally my "No"s: Reggie Theus – He doesn’t have the resume yet, especially one not earned on the backs of JUCOs and transfers

Craig B.: Agreed, even if he did do really well with that high school team on Hang Time

Geoff Z.: Karl Hobbs -- Another guy who I think has reached his ceiling.

Geoff Z.: Finally, Tom Crean – Michigan doesn’t need a guy who weeps in front of his Izzo shrine the night before he has to play MSU. Getting bounced early in the tournament seems to be his ceiling in years not featuring Dwyane Wade

Geoff Z.: OK, I've gone as far as I can here.

Craig B.: So basically, we know what we know, and the rest plays itself out.

Craig B.: Basically, MONITORING

Geoff Z.: Everybody's favorite activity, sure.

Craig B.: I hereby close this emergency session of WTI. Join us Thursday for our regular time and session. It's an all hockey edition, unless it isn't.

Geoff Z.: That's it for tonight, everyone. Thanks for reading.


Anonymous said...

Can you accept some constructive criticism? Please stop doing these. They are WAYYYY too long and very boring to read. You are going to scare readers away from an otherwise good blog.

Geoff said...

Anon, you've got some valid points in there. We do tend to run long and ramble too much to justify the length of these posts, leading to some of our better material getting buried. I don't think we're quite ready to abandon the concept yet, but we're trying to tweak it for the better.

One easy change I'd been thinking about is finding a way to insert jumps in our posts, and this pushed us far enough to find a way to do just that. Now anyone who doesn't want to bother with our IM ramblings can much more easily skip them. Bonus: Since this hack is javascript, it won't require a new page load.