Well, that kinda sucked.
Green Castle: not some Al Gore-funded, PC-friendly tofu-burger stand.
$1 per year.
I am fake Bill Martin and you are not paying attention.
This search has attracted more lame-ass speculation and out-and-out whining than I can fairly tolerate. I have made it easy for everyone to frame up the process, predict (at least dimensionally -- not talking about Mangino here, bozos) the outcome, and, in so doing, I expected a little more from you. Let's go, people. Get on the bus. I will kindly explain exactly what is going on in Blue-World.
First, you all have discovered how easy it is to track flight plans on your computers, you swarm of butt-scratching, underwear-inhabiting web-addicts. Well, duh. That would be any filed flight plan, wouldn't it? Who says you have to file? Or fly to where you file? Morons.
I just flew some god-awful Swiss single engine turboprop called a Pilatus PC-6 that the skydiving school loaned us, through ice and sleet, behind that storm and cancelling our phony IFR flight plan to Omaha, bouncing along like it's 1941 at 110 knots and I'm in the 82nd Airborne, to a 2600 foot narrow-ass strip 10 miles northwest of Iowa City, where the nutcase freight dog pilot banged it on while the sun was coming up. It was about 5 degrees F in the back of that truck and I puked twice. The strip? That would be Green Castle. Green Castle is not the name of a tofu-burger from some White Castle spin-off for the Global Warming set. There weren't any sports freaks logging traffic at Green Castle on Thanksgiving day. There was a guy standing there with a thermos of coffee for us to share, however, and then we went for a drive.
Because you are not paying attention, I will outline for you what is going on, why this is trickier than you think, and what it means to you dopes who have now run the risk of hiring the next Tim Brewster. None of the following is true, of course. It is, however, logical as hell and maybe, somehow, one of you post-Thanksgiving-hangover-addled dopes will take its measure and we can move on to a higher plane of speculation.
All I care about is that I never have to get on a PC-6 again.
First, all I can tell you is that you have a coach out there who is disgusted at how the fans have turned into quasi-NY-Jet-Show-Yer-**** animals, and that is something you better do something about. Booing a senior, Shada, at his introduction on Senior Day: that is not what your coach thought Iowans did. That is not what I thought Iowans did. That is bullshit. Ferentz is a disgusted coach who's looking at his options.
Second, let's review what's happened. It has all happened for a reason. And let's consider a few relationships. Michigan is all about relationships, in case any of you have paid any attention to our management culture:
- Lloyd and I pause carefully, count to three, and then speak in a monotone whenever someone brings up Les Miles.
- Fred Jackson, our RB coach, says for the record, "Yeah, I know Les. Let's just leave it at that." Gee, you think Fred doesn't have a file on the running backs we lost to Miles in the last five years, and what they got paid? Morons. I can't wait for that interview. "So, Les, this guy got X, Y and Z. We know he did. Care to comment?"
- I laugh derisively when Harbaugh's name comes up. Harbaugh impugned our academic program for athletes. He's dead to us. Dead. We are Michigan, asshole. We walk on water.
- Coleman let me axe her friend's husband, Amaker. Do you think we're not keeping score? That lady has a vote.
- Would someone please just fucking note that a) Lloyd and Bo both chose Ferentz as their preferred successor? That Coleman was treated graciously and respectfully by Ferentz? That one of Norm Parker's best friends is Lloyd Carr?
Third, let's look at things from the perspective of institutional politics.
- Miles is the choice of the boosters. They don't give a shit about me, Lloyd, Coleman, or who has to clean up the mess if he has an extra cocktail or gets us on probation. They want to beat tOSU. They're whispering that if we don't do what they want, they stop writing checks for new stadiums, my comped travel on their jets, the winter weekends at Hilton Head, and the rest of it. So they like Miles. (I guess that if I don't do what they want, they'll become Lions or Spartans fans. Yeah, right. All I have to do is make sure I don't lose more than 20% of this years donation stream, because if I hire the right coach (don't tell Lloyd this), we'll beat tOSU next year in Columbus and they'll be wiping my nose with $100 bills.)
- Miles knows he is their choice. Well, tough. Someone is out of his mind if he thinks we're going to hire the one guy who has the ability to go over and around me, Lloyd and Coleman. cf.: Alabama.
- Lloyd and Bo could never believe what happened to us at homecoming a couple of years ago when that bunch of walk-on anglo-saxons in gold and black came in here and pounded us two-feet into the dirt. It wasn't some tricky spread-offense wide-field mystery. They beat the shit out of us between the hash marks. They did that with starters who wouldn't make our two-deep. Hell, they had starters we wouldn't have let walk-on and play the scout team. Then, you watch him at the press conference? He had the class not to rub our noses in it and neither did any of his players. He had class and skill, that day. Bo and Lloyd just wrote down his name. The measure of a coach? He beats you with his players. And you know in his heart, that if he coaches your players, and you his, he beats you worse.
- Have you noticed my weird comments yet to the effect that I've been watching how my candidate coaches handle the press after bad losses? Well, which coach -- in the entire country, dumbasses -- handles a loss with more class than Ferentz? Why in the world would I be saying that this is a criteria for hiring the next coach?
- Let's go back to points 1 & 2. Maybe, just maybe, I like my job. I like being the coach's boss. Tell me again why I'm going to hire some dude that the boosters co-opt, turn me into a kitten-killing castrato who, when the scandal(s) finally break, has to go whining and pleading to Coleman, who's going to say to me, "No sympathy. I told you so."
Fourth, what's my real problem here, then?
- I could explain away six losses to ISU. "Hey, Ferentz is an NFL guy. He has a roster of walk-ons, 5'6" running backs, and the occasional incredible white wide receiver. He's going to treat nonconference like the exhibition season. Deal with it." But Directional U.? It's pretty hard to explain that one away. "The air went out of the team when they booed Shada?" or "the offense this year averaged 1.1 games started in their entire careers?" I can't explain it. The boosters want to beat tOSU. Our choice just lost to Directional. It's an issue.
Fifth, Ferentz isn't helping. The guy can think. Pay attention now.
Name another D-I coach EVER who took a job at a loser program without a contract. You think we all didn't notice that? The guy worked for a year, went 1-10, no contract, no security, nothing. Coleman can't stop talking about it. "Kirk's a guy who puts the job and the institution first, and thinks that he can coach and the money will take care of itself." It takes your breath away. Most of these guys have the mercenary instincts of investment bankers or private equity guys. It's like negotiating with a Russian cop: if you don't pay, you are getting mugged by a man with a gun. You think I'm gonna hear this from Miles: "the contract ain't important, it's all about what happens on the field"? Huh. You bet. Everyone says, "Ferentz can't take the Michigan job, it means a pay cut. No way Blue pays him what Iowa pays." Man, I wish. You know what Ferentz said? This is in his car after we finished the coffee, out at that rinky dink aerodrome no one thought to stake out.
"Pay my staff a little more, so they can handle the higher cost of living in Ann Arbor. Let my son James walk-on. I need a couple of things, facilities-wise. In my case, everyone thinks I'm overrated as a coach because I am 19-18 the last three years. We'll see what happens after I split. So they won't let you pay me what I'm making now. That's fine. Here's what I'll do.
"I'll take $1, this year. You and I can discuss a contract next fall, after we played a full year and finished up with tOSU. I did it before. I bet on myself. My 2006 W-2 was $4.6 million because I bet on myself. I'm just fine betting on myself. Are you? Wouldn't you like to be the first AD to pay a coach $1? After we win out, let the boosters pay me. We'll see who has the last laugh. I always bet on myself.
"What I didn't bet on was Iowa fans booing Adam Shada. Wow. I stuck with that kid and he stuck with us and he got booed in his last game ever. That was over the line. That may be one of the low-points in my career.
"So. $1. One dollar. 100 pennies. You pay for performance only. You can shoot my butt off in a year if I don't perform -- and no 15 year-Weis-sized buyout. You trust Coleman and you need to respect Bo and Lloyd. You can hire a Miles or next year's flavor of Miles, any time you want. You know the fuse is lit, as soon as you do. Something is going to blow up, and you will be in the blast zone. You're Michigan, they'll crawl over their grandmothers to work at Michigan, all those guys. Then they will blow you up by doing something stupid. Trust me, after I do to tOSU what we did to you a couple of years ago, you're going to have no trouble with your boosters. We will talk money, but not until next year."
Problem is, I know this. Lloyd knows this. Coleman thinks she knows this, but she really doesn't. Tressel couldn't coach the d-linemen for Ferentz; he wouldn't get the interview. This guy, Ferentz, with some assets, flat consumes this conference. And he has no problem working for me, for Lloyd, and for Coleman. I am so cornered. I know in my heart that the only coach better, for us, than Ferentz is Belichick, and he's busy putting together the best season in NFL history.
To review, there's nothing Miles can say to make Lloyd, Coleman and probably me comfortable that he isn't a walking IED.
I either find myself a compromise candidate soon -- one, preferably, who didn't lose to Directional U. this year -- or Ferentz is the next coach at Michigan.