Michigan finding it’s next head became a bigger storyline than I imagined. The Maize and Blue isn’t a blue blood program. They aren’t even in the top-50 in wins all-time. But think about the great coaches in team history. Bill Frieder was Coach of the Year in 1985. Steve Fisher had a spectacular run with the Fab Five. Tommy Amaker is a good coach, despite not having a TON of success. And then there’s John Beilein.
I am a huge John Beilein fan. His reputation around college basketball is crystal clean. He got the most out of his guys every single year. Here’s what the Wolverines did under Beilein’s tenure:
- Two national title game appearances
- Two Big Ten regular season championships
- Two Big Ten Conference Tournament championships
- Over 100+ games over .500
That’s a really impressive resume. And keeping Michigan on the same track is a really tough assignment.
Meanwhile, coaching vacancies was a massive storyline this season. Who gets the UCLA job was a constant segment on Good ‘N Plenty almost every single week at some point during the year. First of all, let’s acknowledge that UCLA and Michigan are two different tiers of programs. But with that said, the buzz around the Wolverines head coaching position was similar to the peak of UCLA’s search.
Gene DeFilippo is the key figure here. Ed Cooley and DeFilippo know each other well thanks to their time at Boston College and in the Big East. DeFilippo recommended Cooley to Turnkey, the search firm that was in charge of finding the next head coach.
“This Michigan opportunity…you had to listen to them,” said Cooley. “[Michigan] is one of the best athletic brands in all of college sports.”
Wolverines Athletic Director Warde Manuel and Cooley also have a history that dates back to the Boston College days. And Manuel made a lot of convincing points when trying to sway Cooley to jump conferences.
“At the end of the day you come back to this: Fit was everything to me. Not so much being home, but leaving home, and the locker room of the players we recruited…I just didn’t think now was that time,” Cooley concluded.
Cooley was the guest on Jeff Goodman’s Good ‘N Plenty. Listen by clicking the link above. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher! And make sure you follow Jeff on Twitter here!
2:08 What happened with the Michigan search
11:56 Early life as an assistant head coach
17:25 Jared Dudley: Coach or Analyst
24:24 Black head coaches in college basketball
32:31 What’s next for the Providence Friars