Whoever becomes the next head coach of the Michigan men’s basketball team will have some big shoes to fill after the winningest coach in program history, John Beilein, accepted a head coaching job with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday.
Beilein set the standard for Michigan. He set the foundation for how a program should operate. And although Beilein is now headed to Ohio, his legacy will live on at Michigan because of the way he fundamentally changed the program.
Michigan is now one of the best basketball programs in the country, and a program that isn’t marred in any type of scandal, something that has become commonplace in NCAA basketball.
Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel understands what Beilein brought to the table as a coach and as a genuinely decent human being, and certain traits Beilein exhibited will be prerequisites for Manuel in the hiring process.
“John has established you can win with integrity and do things the right way,” Manuel said on Monday afternoon. “Given some of the issues that have popped up in this sport, I want to assure that whoever leads our program understands that and has that in their background where they are beyond reproach.”
This eliminates the likes of Rick Pitino or anyone similar to him that tries to cheat the system in some way. Beilein was considered one of the cleanest coach’s in the NCAA, and Manuel wants a coach that will abide by NCAA rules and not go down the path of potentially committing violations that will lead to a bevy of sanctions. Far too many programs don’t care about winning with integrity, they just care about winning at all costs, but that hasn’t been Michigan for a long time, and Manuel aims to keep it that way.
Manuel would also prefer if Michigan’s next coach has head coaching experience. “If I can get a proven coach, someone who has a track record as a head coach,” Manuel said, “that’s what I’d like to see.”
While it’s possible an assistant coach without head coaching experience could land the job, it sounds like Manuel wants Michigan to grab a successful coach that is a known name in the profession. Yes, we’re talking Jay Wright, Billy Donovan, Tony Bennett, and others. Manuel wants a coach who has won a lot of games, is battle tested, and will get Michigan deep into the NCAA Tournament.
Integrity and a proven track record are important when hiring a head coach, but there are plenty of other attributes that will be factored into who gets the job and who doesn’t. Another key attribute for Michigan will be a coach’s ability to develop talent. “I want someone who can coach and develop talent. John did it and this league has done it year-in and year-out,” Manuel said. “We’re not teams full of five stars. We develop talent in the league. It’s a tough league that plays hard, so we’re looking for somebody that can develop talent and coach.”
Manuel wants a true coach, someone that can really help these young athletes fine-tune and better their craft. Manuel isn’t looking for a CEO of a head coach, he wants a coach that can be hands on with players and get them to improve.
There isn’t a firm time table in regards to how long the coaching search will take, Manuel said that he wants to get it right and he’s going to take time to make sure whoever is hired is the right person for Michigan.
Some may take Manuel’s comments as a stream of cliches, but I view them as a template to hire a coach that will be a bedrock of stability in a way that Beilein was for Michigan.