Michigan basketball coaching search

Earlier this week, John Beilein left the Michigan basketball team to take his final step in the coaching ranks with the Cleveland Cavaliers. This sucks for the Big Ten and it sucks for Michigan, but when your coach leaves, you gotta hire a new one. Makes sense, right? A coachless team would look absolutely ridiculous.

Michigan is still a great job, so there should be a ton of interest. The tradition of a winning program is there with the Fab Five and the three national title appearances in the late 1980s and early 1990s, winning it all in 1989, before a string of recent success.

The Wolverines reached the Sweet 16 five times in the last seven seasons and made it to the national title twice in that stretch. I thought Beilein might be the guy to break the Big Ten streak of not winning championships at some point, but that didn’t quite happen.

Michigan may need to replace its top three scorers from last season with Jordan Poole, Charles Matthews and Ignas Brazdeikis declaring for the NBA Draft. But the Wolverines still bring back a good amount of talent with Zavier Simpson, Jon Teske and Isaiah Livers.

The Wolverines are among the top athletic departments in the country in terms of the amount of money made on college sports, so payment should not be a huge issue in the Michigan basketball coaching search.

Let’s take a look at some of the candidates listed on the offshore gambling markets.

Home run hires

Billy Donovan is absolutely the home run hire for Michigan. It makes sense for all parties, and it should happen.

Donovan is in the final year of his contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder, an exciting team with Russell Westbrook, but they never make it past round 1 of the playoffs. This team reached its ceiling without much hope for anything better.

Donovan is making $3.9 million at Oklahoma City. Beilein made $3.8 million coaching the Wolverines. Certainly Michigan would be able to put up some more cash for a guy who won multiple national championships in college.

Donovan would be the grand slam with two outs, two strikes in the bottom of the ninth inning trailing by three in Game 7 of the World Series. Michigan would win a national championship with Donovan in charge.

A lesser hire would be stealing Chris Beard from Texas Tech. Maybe a solo home run in the fifth to cut the deficit to one run? We’ll work on this baseball analogy a bit more and get back to ya.

Imagine what this guy could do with a big-time program like Michigan. Texas Tech quietly destroyed teams the last two seasons, and for some reason I still don’t take them seriously. This has been a disaster betting against Texas Tech because in my brain, if you haven’t been good the last 20 years, how could you be good now? Tough way to make some cash thinking this way.

Remember when Texas Tech beat Michigan’s ass in the Sweet 16 a few months ago? That was wild. If Beard wants to take the next step up, switch sides and head on over to Ann Arbor.

Michigan Men hires

The Michigan Man idea is actually pretty dumb when you think about it. It’s fun to see the hometown guy coming ins and taking over the program, but when you have a nationally-successful athletic department, why would you limit yourself to one state?

LaVall Jordan is the current favorite if you look at what the oddsmakers say to be the next head coach. Jordan is from Michigan and was an assistant under Beilein. Since then, he went 11-24 with UW-Milwaukee and made one NCAA Tournament in two years at Butler.

Former Fab Five star Juwan Howard has been brought up as a possible candidate despite never coaching college basketball. He has been an assistant with the Miami Heat the last several years.

I think it would be tough to screw up the Michigan basketball program and most people would be successful in that role, but why take the chance? If you’re Michigan, are you really going after the guy with a career head coaching record 48-55 at mid-major schools? Do you want the former star player who has never been a head coach?

The Wolverines could do better.

Boooooring…. hire

No offense to my guy Luke Yaklich, but when I saw his name and took a look at the resume, I fell right asleep. He seems like a valuable guy to be involved with your college basketball program, but not the guy to lead it.

Yaklich was an assistant at Illinois State for a few years where he was an assistant coach in addition to being in charge of the team’s academics. He just finished his second season as an assistant at Michigan where he’s known for helping the Wolverines transition into a lock-down defensive team.

Before getting into the college basketball game, Yaklich was a high school social studies teacher.

Yaklich would be fine for Michigan, but definitely not the sexy hire. I’m going to continue my nap now.

Sexy hire

If you’re Michigan and you want some eyeballs on your program, go get yourself some Rick Pitino. Why would Michigan do this? Well, they wouldn’t because that would be incredibly unnecessary. The Wolverines can go after solid candidates with much less baggage.

This would be a PR nightmare and who knows what the NCAA would do to Pitino if he came back? I think he will coach again some day, but he’s going to work his way up from a smaller school. If Michigan wants to be must-see TV on a nightly basis, Pitino is the guy.

Michigan should have plenty of options to choose from, and maybe it’s going to come from somebody not on anyone’s radar. Nobody had Beilein connected with the Cavaliers until it happened. Should be an interesting decision coming in Ann Arbor.

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