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Where Does That Leave Us?

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If published reports are true, then John Beilein will be Michigan's next head coach. Despite my rantings that he shouldn't be option 1, I believe he's an excellent choice if this is the list Michigan has to deal with.

Martin has played his cards so close to the vest regarding the coaching search that it's hard to truly have a gauge on who's been contacted. However, there are a lot of issues under the table that are likely shaping what Martin does that I haven't addressed in my rantings.

The 800 lbs gorilla in the room no one's talking about is the fact that in 2-4 years, Carr is likely to retire. Whether the candidate to replace him is internal or external, it's going to cost a lot of money. Michigan's name cachet isn't worth a dime to outsiders. If you want proof of this look to Alabama for what good a big name does in a coaching search. Regardless of whether it's English, Les Miles, or some guy named Joe, Michigan's next head football coach will likely demand double what the basketball coach is making, because, hey, this is Michigan football we're talking about.

Second, and this is something I'm still getting my brain around to accepting, maybe Martin isn't looking for the home run on this hire. Michigan basketball has been down for so long that Martin may simply be trying to return the program to simple profitability. A strange thing to think of in this context as we're discussing a college team, but a very legitimate issue. Michigan basketball went from being a massive money maker to a financial liability in the course of a decade. 3,000 fans showed up to watch the NIT. That doesn't even pay the salaries of the people who worked the event that day.

What Martin may be banking on is simply returning Michigan to the mid-top of the Big Ten, filling seats and getting people interested again. Beilein or Stallings might be the guys to do that. It's hard to hit up alumni for money, even with a big name coach, until the team shows some life. While I believe a Tubby Smith would've given Michigan instant credibility on that front, he ain't available anymore and Martin appears to have made up his mind that going Big isn't his goal. If he can fill Crisler to at least half capacity every night next year, it'll be a victory. The three guys Martin has targeted are all capable of putting together and coaching a good enough team to make that a reality.

If Martin can get anyone to watch Michigan, then he can campaign for the new facilities he promised Amaker. When Michigan has top flight facilities, and can't seem to get out of the second round of the NCAAs, well, then it will be time for Martin to go Big. But for now, begrudgingly, I at least understand where he's coming from.

Finally, and I alluded to this a second ago, there is the issue of facilities. Whether you're Patrick Beverly, the head coach at Detroit Country Day, Detroit Pershing's head coach, or a fan, you are well aware that Michigan's facilities the joke of the Big Ten. While the need is pressing, the finances are simply not being made available by alumni. While we're quick to point a figner at Martin for ignoring the basketball team's needs, legitimately he can't fund something no one wants to pay for. Michigan has been so bad that no donor is going to flush a couple million in the hopes that it turns the team around. No. Donors like to give money to either start something they care about or give money to push it over the top.

If any of Martin's candidates can get Michigan to that "all we need is a push" position, (i.e., NCAA's next year with freshmen), I think the purse strings will loosen. But whomever takes the reigns is going to have to love the rubber chicken circuit. People can say what they want about Lloyd, but he's ALWAYS happy to shake a hand and talk football. I met Lloyd at a Chicago area banquet and he talked to my me and my wife (a ND grad) about Michigan/Notre Dame as if we were the only people in the room. Michigan's next head coach has to, nay, must do the same thing.

There's a lot going on under the table that's shaped Martin's list. There are several legacies that he will oversee the last stages and beginnings of in the next four years. And all those egos, needs, wants, and concerns had to be taken into account before his coaching list was made semi-public.

Keep you fingers crossed.