ANALYSIS: Give Simon and Co. a chance

President Simon didn't shy away from answering the tough questions and deflected the irrelevant ones.

EAST LANSING - As any good leader would do, Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon was out in front of the issue and stood tall amid a constant barrage of critical questions.

President Simon didn't shy away from answering the tough questions and deflected the irrelevant ones.

Michigan State has a plan and a leader and that's more than they could say the last two times they hired a coach.

MSU and Simon are absolutely right to involve Mason in the search process because he is the Athletic Director. Why have him there if he isn't going to be included in a search?

But Mason has already made two mistakes in hiring head football coaches and is beginning to look like Matt Millen in a green blazer.

The first was hastily hiring Bobby Williams after the departure of Nick Saban to LSU. The second was the ill-advised hiring of John L. Smith, a good man and a solid coach, who didn't fit in East Lansing.

So rather than trusting Mason to make the hire alone, Simon will work in concert with him. The astute president is correct in doing so, because beside finding someone who can win on the field, they need to find someone who is a winner with the alumni and the various factions within the University community.

They need someone they can all rally around and support. It wouldn't hurt if the person was well-spoken and well-read in the process.

They are also smart to include members of the board of trustees who will have to approve the recommendation of President Simon and AD Mason. Joel Ferguson is a smart, connected man who knows football and who will offer value input regarding the board's feelings.

That is why, when push comes to shove, I believe MSU will narrow the candidates down to five serious ones.

Steve Mariucci, the former Detroit Lions head coach who oozes charisma, charm, has football smarts, is a proven winner and through head basketball coach Tom Izzo might be the best candidate to navigate the waters in East Lansing. If Mariucci could convince the likeable Pat Shurmur, a George Perles disciple to come along as Offensive Coordinator/Heir Apparent, it makes him even more attractive.

Tyrone Willingham, the current Washington head coach, who's building a solid program in the Pacific Northwest, but is a former Spartan who was stung by his failure in South Bend. Willingham, according to sources, is ready to return to the Midwest and Michigan State would be ideal for him.

Dennis Erickson, the current Idaho head coach, who's won everywhere he's been including non-traditional powers such as Washington State and Oregon State. Erickson's too good to stay at Idaho very long.

Jon Tenuta, the fire breathing defensive coordinator of Georgia Tech, who was once defensive coordinator at Ohio State and who wants badly to get back to the midwest where he recruited like crazy and who has a tentative staff already in place.

Ron English, the University of Michigan's rising star defensive coordinator. Wouldn't paying Michigan back for stealing defensive line coach Steve Stripling be a dog? English is going to be somebody's head coach very soon and it cuts off a valuable part of Michigan's success. The plus is English can recruit and is young enough to stay at MSU for a long time.

I believe that President Simon working together with Mason will find the right candiate and will hit a home run for Michigan. I believe the board will do its job and rubber stamp their recommendation.

I think for once, Michigan State is going to get it right.


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