Latest on the search process and who do I endorse for the job!

Hondo S. Carpenter

As MSU approaches the most critical hire since Biggie Munn it will enter the FORMAL interview process “early next week.” I received this information today from two people who are very close to the process.
As the process comes to a close, MSU has not been able to secure its top three choices (Mooch, Saban or Davis); however, that does not bother me. MSU went after those names, made it clear money wouldn’t stop them and they didn’t want to be here, or in Mooch’s case his wife didn’t want to be here. I applaud the process.

To be honest, it shows us how much better and more thorough this search is being conducted from the last fiasco that yielded us to being the nation’s whipping post. Urban Meyer was available, wanted to come to MSU and couldn’t even get a phone interview the last time, so I am proud of the job being done by Mark Hollis.
There are some very good coaches out there that we can get who want to come to MSU and do not mind being the fourth choice. Because of this and the quality of coaches we have to choose from, Spartan Nation shouldn’t mind either.
Now, however, we have to really analyze and ask ourselves what is best for MSU. I am not talking about X’s and O’s that is semantics. We all know that all different kinds of systems win so that isn’t what I am speaking about. I am saying what do we need?

  1. MSU has never succeeded without a disciplinarian. When George Perles was at his height (Rose Bowl) he was a true to this form. Nick led us (albeit left before it) to the Citrus Bowl with fire. Biggie and Duffy (until the end) both had it. My point is that he has to be a tough, go get ‘em, no nonsense guy.
  2. I believe that MSU is at a place where they can’t afford to be wrong; they have to get it right, so taking risks is dumb. With that said, look at the new coach who took over for my friend, the late Randy Walker. His lack of head coaching experience was clear with how he mismanaged the clock during fourth quarter of MSU’s great comeback. Also, it is clear to see Mike Shula making several rookie mistakes weekly at Alabama and this might cost him his job too. My point is that in the end, our new coach has to have head coaching experience. The fans are screaming that this is a premium job and I’ve made it clear that I agree. If it is that, then the coach and university must act like. Let rookie coaches go somewhere else to learn. We need to get a guy with head coaching experience that knows how to lead a football team. He has to know the rules and how to put together game plans and all the nuances that surround it. He has to not only have been a coach, but also succeeded at it.
  3. He must be a proven recruiter who can go into high schools, make his mark and when he leaves the different schools coach will tell his players: “that is a good guy and a great program.” This trust will undoubtedly be hard to build, but let’s be honest with ourselves, in college, recruiting is apex and we have done a poor job for too long.
  4. We must have the understanding that all of our recruits will not be five star players. Eventually, this has to be the goal, but for now our success does not merit this. Therefore, our new coach must have a proventrack record of developing talent and finding ways to succeed with every type of player. Our new coach must mold his recruits into our top-tier players. I don’t care if they come in five stars, just leave as NFL players.
  5. He needs to have the proven ability to go to other states for talent. MSU leaves a lot of talent on the board here in the state, but with point #3, we know he will fix that. He must be able to go to talent rich states, like Ohio, and bring back players who will fill our roster out properly.
  6. The idea that our new coach must have an NFL pedigree to bring recruits to MSU is nonsense. That is crap. He must be able to succeed in incubating our players into NFL caliber athletes; who cares if he has been there or has been one. It simply does not matter. Izzo is great not because he was an NBA player or coach (he wasn't either); he is great because he puts them in the NBA.
  7. A proven head coach will have a proven staff. Staff continuity is vital. They must hit the ground in East Lansing running. The head man gets the publicity, but without a good staff the best coach is still only a loser. Not a guy with no experience putting a staff in place. Let him go somewhere, build a great staff and then be a candidate. Not now. Not at this moment.

With this being MSU’s biggest coaching search in recent history, it must use the criteria that I have laid out to select its next coach. A high school coach currently coaching in Michigan, who consistently produces some of the most D-1 talent in the state, told me yesterday that, “if you get a Grantham or a Shurmur or anyone like that I have nothing to say about them. They may be great guys and coaches but I don’t know and I wouldn’t endorse a guy like that because I don’t know. You go get a proven guy and I know he can do it, I know him and I would tell any kid I had, being recruited by anyone that he had to look at MSU and I would encourage them to go there.”

I love Pat Shurmur, but politically MSU cannot make him their coach and he has no head coach experience. MSU is not a job you go to learn to coach. I realize this may sound absurd, but MSU should be contending for Big Ten titles and Rose Bowl trips yearly. Call me insane, but I am sounding the clarion call that Rose Bowls are a real possibility at this place. Why do so many Spartans think we are Purdue? No! This school can do it.

This program is in too much trouble to bring in a person without experience. The only way I EVER endorse a coordinator is in a case where an ICON retires and you keep continuity. That is the ONLY way because they already know the structure in place.

Listen, Izzo and some of the administration do love Saban, but Spartan Nation still has a bitter taste not only for how he left, but also what he said doing it and other concerns related to him while here. Grantham may have coached here but so what. So did Wayne Fontes and so has John L. Smith. Pick Shurmur over Grantham if experience doesn’t count, he at least has done more as a coach and as a Spartan, BUT HE’S NOT THE ONE!
Brian Kelly encompasses every single one of the seven criteria I laid out. Kelly wants to be at MSU, too. His name may not be sexy like Saban, Mooch and Davis, but he is certainly proven and has always succeeded. For the people who say that Muddy was a small school (SVSU and Hillsdale) I remind you that Kelly did win at that level but also at CMU and MAC football is among the most respected in the nation. That comparison is foolish. Many great head coaches can come from smaller ranks. I could see a Kelly hire, but he’s not my guy.

Lastly I give you my choice. Mark Dantonio is the head coach of the Cincinnati Bearcats. He is my friend. A man of integrity, character and honor. He won’t talk to MSU until his season is over and that may panic many. If this choice is about the next 10 years and not just the next ten minutes trust me he is worth the wait.

He is a terrific recruiter of a .500 program. What people don’t know is that Cincy was buried. When he took over it was in worse shape than MSU is now. He and his wife Becky love East Lansing, are precious people and would bring MSU back. He is proven. If you can’t get past the record you don’t know how bad it was.

The ignorant will look at his .500 record and mock him, but if MSU does not hire him he will lead Cincinnati to a BCS bowl. Mock him all you want, but he and I share a great friend in Jim Tressel who may be one of the best college football coaches of all time and while sitting in his office in Columbus earlier this year Tressel told me of Dantonio, “He is the best evaluator of talent I have ever known.”

Because his record is only .500 (and that is simply because he has not been there long, but next year they will break out) people will miss that his roster is full of many talented players that have NFL futures. You don’t know them because they were no stars, one stars or two stars. He and his excellent staff just develop them.

Oh by the way he was Tressel’s defensive coordinator when he won the national title. He brings rings and more importantly they won because of him and not in spite of him.

It’s time for this administration to show the Spartan Nation you’re not trying to outsmart yourself you’re just trying to get it right. Dantonio is the man. If he gets it or not I don’t know, but he should. Wait until the Bearcats season is over. Hire Dantonio and let’s get MSU football back where it should be.

Call me fat, I am. Call me stupid, the case can be made. Right is still right. I am right on Dantonio. Go hire him.

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