Michigan State is looking for a new head coach after Mark Dantonio tried to sneak away (LINK). A couple coaches have quelled rumors about leaving for East Lansing, whether they were contacted or not: Pitt’s Pat Narduzzi (a former MSU defensive coordinator) and Colorado’s Mel Tucker.
Hit the jump for more.
Rumors have centered around Cincinnati’s Luke Fickell as a replacement, and Fickell has not done anything to stanch the rumors. There are even rumors that this is basically a done deal as of Sunday afternoon.
There are a couple reasons why I think the hiring of Fickell would be bad for Michigan. This does not mean that the rivalry would suddenly swing back in the favor of MSU or anything, but this is about more than Michigan vs. MSU.
- Fickell hates Michigan. He understands the rivalry after having played and coached at Ohio State, and virtually the closest thing you can get to coaching Ohio State is coaching the Spartans. That hatred and focus on beating Michigan would carry over to the green and white, and he would understand that you prepare to beat Michigan 365 days a year. Whereas Michigan has “bigger fish to fry” in the Buckeyes, Michigan State is historically a mediocre program whose primary goal is to beat the Wolverines.
- Fickell can recruit Ohio. This is perhaps the bigger reason. A hatred for Michigan doesn’t necessarily equal a victory on the field, but Fickell is an Ohio guy. He was born in Columbus, went to Columbus (OH) St. Francis DeSales, and played for the Buckeyes. He has done a terrific job at Cincinnati of recruiting Ohio players, and three schools have cleaned up in the Buckeye State recently: OSU, Cincinnati, and Kentucky. Michigan, meanwhile, has stopped recruiting Ohio as hard and has whiffed on a lot of their big-time targets. They have been left to fight for the scraps in Ohio over the past several years, aside from a few (Kyle Kalis, Ben Gedeon, Mike McCray, etc.). Michigan State is a higher profile program than Cincinnati, and I think they could potentially almost eliminate Michigan from being a factor in Ohio. Of course, the Wolverines have already moved on to recruiting heavily in New Jersey, Florida, Illinois, California, and other spots, but Ohio used to be a place where they could pull out some elite players (Elvis Grbac, Desmond Howard, Ricky Powers, Charles Woodson).
I know a lot of Michigan fans will downplay this hire if/when it happens, but I think Fickell is just about the best realistic option to replace Dantonio, and he might even be an upgrade.
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