The first iteration of this was posted earlier this afternoon for about 10 minutes, but it was hastily slapped together so I took it down for edits. So if you read the earlier, apprenticed version, now here's the masterpiece.
Less than a week removed from our Rose Bowl victory and it's already our favorite time of year again. No, not the end of the year when you receive your annual ROI statement from your trust fund, but that special time when we get to fend off any and all suitors for our very own GP. And, fresh off a big win against THE HOTTEST TEAM IN THE COUNTRY!!! his stock could not be any higher. So, of course I leave town for 2 days to check out the Sugar Bowl and when I come back all everyone wants to talk about is GP heading north to Michigan. And while my usual tactic is to bitch, worry and go to the mattresses in times like these, I'm just not buying the rumor for a variety of reasons.
For one, after the disaster that was Rich Rodriguez, you have to think Michigan gets back to their roots and goes after a "Michigan Man" to right the ship. This may sound like a ridiculous tactic to an outsider - and oh, it is, right Notre Dame? - but surely with the lead up to the Rose Bowl, as well as the whole leaders and legends bullshit, you've come to realize that the Big Ten cares about tradition far more than they care about winning. This is why they went 0-5 on New Years Day in their bowl games. So clearly the names at the top of their list are going to be Jim Harbaugh and Les Miles, and a little bit further down the list, Brady Hoke.
You already know Michigan is offering Harbaugh more money that he ever even knew existed, plus probably making him chancellor and athletic director of the school and giving him a lifetime contract. There are rumors out there that Michigan is hesitant to go after Harbaugh because of some slights he made against the athletic program in regards to their academic integrity, and they they basically will not give him a serious shot out of spite. And much like Garrett Gilbert being the answer in Austin or Vince Young not being a mental midget, those rumors are simply foolish. Michigan wants Harbaugh. Michigan wants Harbaugh REALLY bad and I don't think they fire Rodriguez without at least having a semblance of interest from his camp. But if you believe those close to him and the media, his attitude is pretty much NFL or bust. And seeing as how some are calling Harbaugh the hottest coaching prospect ever, you'd be silly to think that the San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos or the Miami Dolphins aren't going to show him some serious love in the way of dollar signs. Some will try and argue that with Andrew Luck's recent decision to return to school for his senior year, Harbaugh might want to stick around and finish what they started by winning a Pac 10 title and going out with a Rose Bowl berth. However, the people who argue that are just silly because, let's face it, if he can get his supposed asking price of $6 million per year he's as good as gone. His ex players won't mean shit. Personally? I can't see Harbaugh on the Stanford sidelines next season, but I also don't think Michigan is out of the race by any means. He may act like he's not interested in returning to his alma mater, but I think part of that is just gamesmanship. If Michigan comes calling and offers the kind of money I think they will, it might be hard for him to flat out refuse their offer. I'm skeptical that an NFL franchise is going to pony up the kind of money that he's asking for considering he's been a head coach for, what, 3 seasons, and never at the NFL level. There are definitely no guarantees that he'll succeed and the odds are against him considerably. But, for the sake my later arguments, let's assume that he trades in his pocket protector for a rainbow bumper sticker and takes the 49ers gig.
Next on the list, the Wolverines probably look at Les Miles and, if you believe the rumors, he would KILL for a chance to go to Michigan. I can't remember exactly how it went down, but before they hired Rodriguez there was a lot of chatter that the Wolverines were looking to bring Miles back to Ann Arbor as he was hot off a national title with LSU and was a former lineman for the Wolverines. However, they went with Rodriguez and the rest is now history. I honestly believe Miles would love to make himself a candidate, not because he's a "Michigan Man" but because he knows his time at LSU is contingent on one bad season. His whole "winning by the seat of his pants" attitude - intentional or not - is fun when he pulls the games out. But what if Tennessee doesn't break the huddle with 12 men? Or what if North Carolina makes that last second pass in Week 1? If you flip a few of their close wins the other way and he's 7-5 and playing in Memphis for a bowl game, you can bet your ass his FEMA trailer would be padlocked and impounded before the team plane touched down. If Michigan gave him comparable money and a long term deal, there's no doubt he'd take a look. This situation is exceptionally terrifying because GP would be a very natural candidate to take his place in Baton Rouge, but let's not cross that bridge until we have to. And, if the Wolverines didn't want him a few years ago, would they really want him now? Mike Leach's agent has the toughest sell in all of college football based on his client's eccentricities... but Les Miles isn't that far behind him. Well, no one touches Leach of course, but you understand what I'm talking about. The guy can recruit and his teams have won a lot of games, but he's just such a wild card I'm not sure the maize and gold faithful would warm up to him, no matter his roots. Regardless, I don't think he leaves Baton Rouge unless it's a no brainer offer, and I'm not sure he's as far up Michigan's list as I have him.
After you move past Harbaugh and miles, there's Brady Hoke, who is clearly a great program ressurrector - is that a word? - and an ex-Wolverine player and coach... but come on. Good luck selling that an already disgruntled fan base. Hoke is anything but a "sexy" hire and while it's possible Michigan would take a look at him simply to go in the opposite direction of their last sexy hire, I think they want someone who is more game ready. An upstart coach who only has experience at Ball State and San Diego State and is known as a "program builder", no matter his pedigree, probably won't fly because Michigan doesn't believe they have to burn the thing down and start over. Hoke might merit an interview, but he's down the list.
So assuming Harbaugh turns them down and Miles and Hoke don't get the nod, Patterson will likely be among a small pool of candidates that Michigan would love to grant an interview. Michigan would be foolish not to give him an honest interview... and it wouldn't necessarily hurt anything for him to go on it. So let's say they love and offer him. Does he jump? I really think he doesn't.
For one, Michigan isn't going to pay him more than he is currently being paid at TCU, somewhere in the $2.5 million range if I hear correctly. Michigan has the financial clout to pay him more, yes, but they likely aren't going to guarantee any new coach not named Harbaugh big money since they were burned the last go around by doing the same thing. Match it, yes, but no more. So the money isn't really an issue here.
Beyond that, there are really two jobs I think he would absolutely have a remarkably difficult time turning down, and those are the ones in Austin and Norman. He gets to stay in his recruiting comfort zone and those are two of the top 5 jobs in the country. The money would be criminally higher.It would absolutely chill us to our bones to see him in burnt orange or crimson, but we couldn't blame him either. But, I think he only takes those jobs if he's the top candidate. And with Michigan, he clearly is not. Why would he want to be the sloppy seconds of a program in an unfamiliar part of the country? Why would we want to completely restart his career and learn a new recruiting area? He proved Saturday that he's capable of game planning against the best that the Big Ten has to offer, so that transition would perceivably not be an issue, but as you can see with Dan Hawkins or Rich Rodriguez, what works one place does not necessarily work at another. There are just too many factors involved. GP would be as well equipped as anyone to handle a change, but I think he knows he has a good thing going in Fort Worth and there's no reason to muck it up.
And, perhaps the most important question of all, what kind of program is Michigan in its current state? I'm not trying to downplay the Wolverines history; they are the winningest football program of all time, after all. But, they've recently fallen into a bit of the "Notre Dame Corrollary" where they're letting their history affect their zeitgeist. Yes, Michigan has had FAR more recent success than Notre Dame, even winning a national title in the last 15 years, and almost qualifying to play for another not too long ago, but they're in a funk. RichRod may not have been the answer long term, but he had at least made progress, no matter how minimal it was. Blowing it up just as he was starting to get his players to Ann Arbor is going to set them back farther than if they had kept him on. Does Gary really want to be the coach to clean up that mess? It's likely going to take a new coach 3-4 years to get that program back to where its competing for Big Ten titles, but are they going to be that patient this go around? Recruiting has gotten increasingly difficult as Ohio State has started to take over the state of Michigan, and with little brother Michigan State having been far more relevant in the post-Lloyd Carr years, grabbing the best in-state recruits can no longer be taken for granted. Plus, adding Nebraska and a conference title game to the mix makes that journey even more difficult. If they come in and guarantee five years, that's one thing, but that would mean they could potentially be a middle of the road program for eight years when that time frame is said and done. I don't think they want to take that chance. They could be in for a few more years on the coaching carousel. I don't think GP wants to take that chance.
But more than that, and more than the whole, "he's comfortable in Fort Worth, FW loves him, he loves it back" thing because that's what we always fall back on, he just seems like the kind of guy who wants to finish what he started. When he came to Fort Worth, he was a vagabond assistant coach at a school that had recently rushed the field because they won their only game of the season. We were SMU bad without the death penalty, which is truly an accomplishment. Twelve years later he just finished playing in back to back BCS bowls and winning the FORKING ROSE BOWL!!! AT TCU!!! He racks up ten win seasons and bowl berths like WWHD racks up triple digit bar tabs at the Spearmint Rhino. He has the best job security of any coach in the country. Seriously. Name someone else that has more job security. Nick Saban? A few more losses to Auburn and he's done. Tressel? They wanted to fire him this year. Paterno? When the Grim Reaper is holding your time card, then said time is never on your side. You can't name one. He will literally never be fired. On top of all that, he has the Frogs moving to a BCS conference, something thought impossible just a year ago, and even more recent than that. Remember when BYU defected and GP said that we'd just have to wait and see how it all shook out because he knew things? He was right, so right. It might be the worst BCS conference there is, where coaches leave programs in order to seek out their "dream job" at Maryland of all places, but its a BCS conference nonetheless. The money the football program will generate because of that is exponentially higher than what he's worked with during his career, and look at what he's done on that budget already. And with a current recruiting class ranked in the Top 25, clearly our recent attention is already paying big dividends. And, he just helped finance a $100 million + stadium renovation that only happened because his name is attached to it. Don't you think he wants to see how that all unfolds?
I think the most important thing to realize here is that Gary took TCU from an outcast misfit private school with a glorified intramural squad and built it into a true football program. How many guys can say they've done that? Sure, plenty of guys have gotten the ball rolling, but not many have stuck around and seen the thing through. Urban Meyer didn't, and God just smited his ticker and forced him into early retirement. Dan Hawkins didn't, and now he's competing with Franchione - another jumper - for the job at Texas State. Clearly there's a trend here that he shouldn't want to mess with, especially as there is clearly already a karmic eye being cast in our direction. Outsiders will say that he's absolutely crazy not to parlay his success into a bigger name job, but truth be told, TCU is now a destination program because of him. I guess if he gets jaded by success and wants to recharge his batteries to see if he's more than a one hit wonder, that's one thing... but I sincerely doubt he's going out like that.
Honestly, I don't know if GP will grow crusty and old on the sidelines of Amon G Carter Stadium, part deux. And if he left this year, I would be the first to line up outside of his house to applaud him as he followed the moving vans out of town. He has earned the right to take a shot at another job if it is truly in his heart to do so. But I just don't see that happening this year. And even with the rumors of Justin Fuente's interview with Clemson for their OC position, my stance doesn't change one bit. GP may not be here forever, but he's going to be stalking our sidelines with his pants being painstakingly raised to full mast for the foreseeable future.