Paring Down Phase
The now disproven rumor that Duke’s David Cutcliffe was offered the Michigan head coaching position before ultimately turning it down opened the door for Big Network’s Marcus Ray to discuss where the Wolverines actually are in their search. The former Michigan All-American and captain is close to the process thanks to his positon on what he called an advisory board for interim athletic director Jim Hackett.
“To my understanding there has been a lot of interest in Michigan, and please don’t think Michigan is beating down every door in America saying, ‘please come and coach at Michigan,’,” said Ray. “This is a very prestigious job and Jim Hackett and his team I believe are doing an excellent job with the process. My understanding is they’re in the process of narrowing down candidates, weighing different situations, and considering everything. So there is no way that somebody has been offered the job when they’re still in the process of figuring out who they even want to narrow it down to.”
The initial list of candidates was reportedly 14-15 names long.
Spread Coaches In or Out?
Only Hackett himself knows all of the criteria for paring down his list, but some of that criteria was determined by the players themselves. At Michigan’s annual football bust Monday’s football some team members reflected upon a recent meeting with their interim athletic director during which they were asked about their concerns. One of those concerns was reportedly style of offense. That’s understandable considering they signed up to play in a traditional pro style attack. It begs the question, does Hackett’s willingness account for that concern while vetting candidates basically neuter the candidacy of coaches that run the spread?
“I don’t want to say they’re excluded because there is too many names on the list right now to say, ‘let’s keep him off because he runs this, or let’s bring him on because he runs that.’ I don’t think they’ve gotten to that point yet, but I believe Hackett has something in place, people he can talk to, guys that have been coaching for years that can help him make that decision based on Michigan’s personnel. It is kind of going to be based on personnel.”
So to follow up on one of last week's updates, the door to pursue a coach that employs a “spread to run” system like UCLA’s Jim Mora is still open.
Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number
When the process first began it appeared that age would be a significant deterrent to Michigan’s interest in Les Miles relative to other candidates. The word out of Ann Arbor this week is that is not true. Contact with Miles agent as the search narrows suggests the former Wolverine assistant is actually very high on the list.
Michigan Rooting for Seahawks and Lions
If Seattle wins its Sunday rematch the San Francisco 49ers and the Detroit Lions win their rematch with the Minnesota Vikings, the 49ers are eliminated from playoff contention. That obviously isn’t a desirable scenario for Jim Harbaugh, but it would be for Michigan. That outcome would essentially end the 49ers season two weeks before the actual season finale. With postseason consideration removed from the equation the former Michigan standout should be able to give his alma mater a firmer feel for the depth of his interest. If that scenario comes to pass it stands to reason that the Wolverines will get even more aggressive in trying to ascertain where things stand.
Other NFL Head Coaches
While most Wolverine eyes are gazing at Jim Harbaugh in the professional ranks, two others on Michigan’s radar are that New Orleans Saints headman Sean Payton and Cincinnati Bengals headman Marvin Lewis. Payton’s name began making the rounds as one of interest last week and has been picking up steam ever since. Lewis’ name emerged more recently and doesn’t appear to be nearly as prominent as Payton’s, but is one to keep track of as a “long list” option.