Thoughts on the Coaching Shakeup

Dylan Burkhardt
on
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Jerry Dunn and John Mahoney have moved on while Jeff Meyer has moved up

John Beilein’s adjustments to the coaching staff were announced 10 days ago but uncertainty surrounding the staff had been clear since Jerry Dunn took a leave of absence in the middle of the season. Dunn leaving the staff is not surprising, especially after he was assigned to an administrative role after his return. Mahoney’s departure, on the other hand, does feel like a bit of a surprise.

Mahoney had been with Beilein since 2005 when he was named the Director of Basketball Operations at West Virginia. He made the move to Michigan with Beilein and was promoted to an assistant coaching position. Mahoney was a hard-worker on the recruiting trail and well liked by anyone who interacted with him, but at the end of the day it’s a bottom line business. Mahoney tirelessly recruited Casey Prather but couldn’t convince him to come north.  This isn’t really a knock on Mahoney because I’m not sure that anyone could have brought Prather north.

Beilein addressed the changes before the team banquet:

“I can’t say it’s anything specific; I would just say change is part of a program, and we’re going through that. I’ve got to make decisions based on what I think is best for the University of Michigan. … It’s about the future and what I think is our future.”

Disappointing seasons typically yield change, so it’s not surprising to see a shift in the staff. The more interesting questions surround who will fill the shoes of the departing coaches. Jeff Meyer will fill one of the two open positions but the second replacement has yet to be determined.

Jeff Meyer has a lengthy resume. He was a head coach for 16 years at Liberty (81-97) but also had assistant coaching gigs at Purdue (78-80), South Florida (80-81), Winthrop (98-01), Butler (01-04), Missouri (04-06), and Indiana (06-08). He’s been around the block and seems to have strong ties to the state of Indiana. Meyer seems like he should be an able recruiter in the mid-west and also provide enough experience and knowledge to make a difference instructionally on the practice floor.

Most expect that Beilein will look to hire a coach with strong ties to the state of Michigan to fill the third assistant slot. There are really a number of ways to go. Beilein could hire a current division one coach looking to make a move or he could look to hire a high school level coach. Of course Beilein tends to keep these things extremely close to the vest so expecting any major leaks is unlikely to say the least.

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Dane Fife and Bacari Alexander appear to be two leading candidates

I think the more likely option is a current division one coach… There two names that appear to be getting the most play are IPFW’s Dane Fife and Western Michigan assistant Bacari Alexander. Alexander has strong ties to current Michigan assistant coach Mike Jackson and was on campus last week. Rumors about Fife appear to be picking up steam, but Fife refuses to comment:

“I have no comment regarding any coaching job other than the one that I have,” Fife said Sunday.

Beilein has repeatedly stated that he will cast a wide net so some other assistant coaches with Michigan ties to keep an eye on include: Syracuse’s Rob Murphy (although I couldn’t see him leaving Syracuse), Oakland’s Saddi Washington, and Bowling Green’s Lamonta Stone. Oronde Taliaferro’s name has been thrown around but if you think Beilein would hire someone who was just ran out of Norman amidst recruiting violations then I’ve got a Nigerian prince that can wire you $500,000.

Beilein could also look at a current high school coach. The first high school candidate that came to my mind was Lou Dawkins. Dawkins is the head coach at Saginaw High, thoroughly involved in the up and coming Team Pride AAU program, and certainly well connected in the state. Despite Dawkins seeming to be a nice fit, there haven’t been any reports connecting him to the job.

Reports that Dan Fife is a leading candidate strike me as extremely unlikely. Dan is Dane’s father and head coach at Clarkston but I assume that the ‘e’ in Dane was lost in translation somewhere. Dan just seems to old to consider a career move like this.

For all of you crowing for Jalen Rose, keep dreaming. I find it hard to believe that Rose would leave his gig at ESPN to embrace the grind of being a college assistant coach. These two tweets enabled more of the dreaming as Rose stated that he would “love the opportunity” to be an assistant coach at Michigan. But Twitter is only Twitter and I’m sure that Jalen loves the idea of coaching at Michigan. I’m just not sure he’d love the idea of taking a pay cut and traveling across the country on the recruiting trail.

Update: Here’s another tweet from Jalen…

image

Regardless of what option Beilein chooses to go in, I would expect an announcement to come sooner than later. It’s important to have that third assistant coach locked in before recruiting starts to pick up for the summer. Beilein also doesn’t strike me as the type to make a move without a plan.

  • AG

    Whoever it is I certainly hope they would help challenge Izzo's lockdown on Flint and Saginaw. I'm tired of hearing about guys like Draymon Green getting attention from Michigan only to run to East Lansing when Izzo gives him the time of day because “MSU is my dream school.” For too long its been either MSU or out of state as if Ann Arbor doesn't exist. That has to change.

    In other news, Mike Rosario is going to Florida.

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  • AG

    Whoever it is I certainly hope they would help challenge Izzo's lockdown on Flint and Saginaw. I'm tired of hearing about guys like Draymon Green getting attention from Michigan only to run to East Lansing when Izzo gives him the time of day because “MSU is my dream school.” For too long its been either MSU or out of state as if Ann Arbor doesn't exist. That has to change.

    In other news, Mike Rosario is going to Florida.

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  • Seer

    Belein faces mounting challenges from MSU. Think about this: Izzo won a title in 2000. Since that time MSU has been a national powerhouse while Michigan has wilted. Recruits for 2011 and 2012 were aged 6 or 7 at that time. So basically for as long as they've seriously followed sports, MSU has been dominant in basketball. This problem grows every year, and the recruiting differential continues to grow.

    I don't know when this has a happy ending for Michigan, I'm just pointing out how hard recruiting is given how things have been for the last decade.

  • fresh

    this is when you really have to rely on beilein's system and hope that with the players he can get they buy into the system and it excels……….they have to win and they have to win on a national level against big time schools, with the players that they have and are getting, simple as that……….while izzo is at msu there is no way michigan dominates in the recruiting game, but if they start to win then the recruiting battle will even itself out…………..while beilein is here though he has to show the country that its a great system capable of winning a lot of games and capable of giving great players the opportunity to make noise in their college careers, get better and is a good system to play in………….but you have to win and you have to win a lot

  • Billiam

    laughs….anyways, I really think that this program is capable of winning big games (look at last year). The only problem is that the word is “capable” and not “is winning”. Anyways, we'll be back soon enough. Look at Brundidge, and Harris and Sims a few years ago. We've got decent enough recruits for the system. The real advantage we have with this system is that we don't need top 30 guys to win (unlike Calipari….). Just look at what we did two years ago. Coach recruits shooters, while Izzo doesn't as much, so we're not in that much trouble right now.

    Anyways, we're just not going to get many top 50 recruits until next year, so we'll see how many games we win then. Also, we're not losing any seniors next year, so if we win enough, we should be in a good position for the year after that. And the year after that we're only going to lose three guys who weren't ranked that high, so our talent level is going up…which means that we should also draw better recruits.

  • Wayman Britt

    It's going to be interesting to see who Beilien picks. I kind of hope for a MI H.S. coach, seems like a normal progression and he would have ties to Michigan coaches and the AAU circuit.

    I agree with you Dylan, I bet Beilein has had a plan since Jan. or Feb. and probably has known since then who he wants.

  • trueblue4life

    I think belein will get it done sooner then later.Iam tired of all this elite talent leaving Michigan and going elsewhere.There is enough elite talent in Michigan every year for Michigan and MSU to get what they need.I do know the facililities will have a huge impact.We just dont have that wow factor that almost every other team in the bigten has.But we will.Beilein is starting to bring in some really good talent.Darius Morris,Matt Vogrich(I will come back to him in a min.)Evan Smotcryz,Tim Hardaway Jr,Carlton Brundridge.I also have a good feeling about Jordan Morgan.So my thought on Vogrich,his freshman season was wasted,he should have transferred,but I really think he is going to bounce back and have a very nice Soph. season,and well see why Beilien recruited this kid,same with Novack and Douglass.Hopefully McLimans is a pleasant surprise too,cause he is a complete mystery to me,I have seen no video on him and have heard very little about his progress.

  • trueblue4life

    I meant to say Vogrich should have redshirted not transferred.I wont judge Vogrich until Beilein starts giving him some more minutes.He's a shooter,how do you excpect a shooter like Vogrich which that is his forte to make any kind of impact if you just throw him in the game for a couple mins. here and there

  • Wayman Britt

    Trueblue- I hope you are right about Vogrich. I don't want to judge him too much on one season, but I worry about his ability to get his shot off and being a liability on defense. Beilein has shown in his three years if you can't play defense you don't play.

  • section13row15

    What about promoting Brian Townsend to Assistant Coach? He was a former Ann Arbor Pioneer coach that won a state championship with Lavell Blanchard. He also was an assistant at Ohio University for a few years. I played football at Pioneer and he was highly respected by everyone.

  • I don't see Townsend getting the nod, especially because Meyer essentially leap frogged him from administrative assistant to assistant. But as a former Pioneer as well, and former football player, I agree with you that Townsend is certainly universally respected.

  • Brian W

    Dane Fife turned down an assistant coaching job with U-M per this web site:

    http://www.indianasnewscenter.com/sports/915698

  • section13row15

    Dylan,

    What year did you graduate? I am from 2000. I might actually be going back to the Pi Hi football spaghetti dinner next Wed. Some lady that I work with has kids on the team. I had no idea she went to Pioneer until she sent an email around trying to sell her kids' tickets. I live in Royal Oak now but have had UM basketball season tickets since 2004.

    You guys do a really good job with the site. Talk to you soon.

  • section13row15

    Dylan,

    What year did you graduate? I am from 2000. I might actually be going back to the Pi Hi football spaghetti dinner next Wed. Some lady that I work with has kids on the team. I had no idea she went to Pioneer until she sent an email around trying to sell her kids' tickets. I live in Royal Oak now but have had UM basketball season tickets since 2004.

    You guys do a really good job with the site. Talk to you soon.