2010-2011 Season

Thoughts on the Coaching Shakeup

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Jerry Dunn and John Mahoney have moved on while Jeff Meyer has moved up

John Beilein’s adjustments to the coaching staff were announced 10 days ago but uncertainty surrounding the staff had been clear since Jerry Dunn took a leave of absence in the middle of the season. Dunn leaving the staff is not surprising, especially after he was assigned to an administrative role after his return. Mahoney’s departure, on the other hand, does feel like a bit of a surprise.

Mahoney had been with Beilein since 2005 when he was named the Director of Basketball Operations at West Virginia. He made the move to Michigan with Beilein and was promoted to an assistant coaching position. Mahoney was a hard-worker on the recruiting trail and well liked by anyone who interacted with him, but at the end of the day it’s a bottom line business. Mahoney tirelessly recruited Casey Prather but couldn’t convince him to come north.  This isn’t really a knock on Mahoney because I’m not sure that anyone could have brought Prather north.

Beilein addressed the changes before the team banquet:

“I can’t say it’s anything specific; I would just say change is part of a program, and we’re going through that. I’ve got to make decisions based on what I think is best for the University of Michigan. … It’s about the future and what I think is our future.”

Disappointing seasons typically yield change, so it’s not surprising to see a shift in the staff. The more interesting questions surround who will fill the shoes of the departing coaches. Jeff Meyer will fill one of the two open positions but the second replacement has yet to be determined.

Jeff Meyer has a lengthy resume. He was a head coach for 16 years at Liberty (81-97) but also had assistant coaching gigs at Purdue (78-80), South Florida (80-81), Winthrop (98-01), Butler (01-04), Missouri (04-06), and Indiana (06-08). He’s been around the block and seems to have strong ties to the state of Indiana. Meyer seems like he should be an able recruiter in the mid-west and also provide enough experience and knowledge to make a difference instructionally on the practice floor.

Most expect that Beilein will look to hire a coach with strong ties to the state of Michigan to fill the third assistant slot. There are really a number of ways to go. Beilein could hire a current division one coach looking to make a move or he could look to hire a high school level coach. Of course Beilein tends to keep these things extremely close to the vest so expecting any major leaks is unlikely to say the least.

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Dane Fife and Bacari Alexander appear to be two leading candidates

I think the more likely option is a current division one coach… There two names that appear to be getting the most play are IPFW’s Dane Fife and Western Michigan assistant Bacari Alexander. Alexander has strong ties to current Michigan assistant coach Mike Jackson and was on campus last week. Rumors about Fife appear to be picking up steam, but Fife refuses to comment:

“I have no comment regarding any coaching job other than the one that I have,” Fife said Sunday.

Beilein has repeatedly stated that he will cast a wide net so some other assistant coaches with Michigan ties to keep an eye on include: Syracuse’s Rob Murphy (although I couldn’t see him leaving Syracuse), Oakland’s Saddi Washington, and Bowling Green’s Lamonta Stone. Oronde Taliaferro’s name has been thrown around but if you think Beilein would hire someone who was just ran out of Norman amidst recruiting violations then I’ve got a Nigerian prince that can wire you $500,000.

Beilein could also look at a current high school coach. The first high school candidate that came to my mind was Lou Dawkins. Dawkins is the head coach at Saginaw High, thoroughly involved in the up and coming Team Pride AAU program, and certainly well connected in the state. Despite Dawkins seeming to be a nice fit, there haven’t been any reports connecting him to the job.

Reports that Dan Fife is a leading candidate strike me as extremely unlikely. Dan is Dane’s father and head coach at Clarkston but I assume that the ‘e’ in Dane was lost in translation somewhere. Dan just seems to old to consider a career move like this.

For all of you crowing for Jalen Rose, keep dreaming. I find it hard to believe that Rose would leave his gig at ESPN to embrace the grind of being a college assistant coach. These two tweets enabled more of the dreaming as Rose stated that he would “love the opportunity” to be an assistant coach at Michigan. But Twitter is only Twitter and I’m sure that Jalen loves the idea of coaching at Michigan. I’m just not sure he’d love the idea of taking a pay cut and traveling across the country on the recruiting trail.

Update: Here’s another tweet from Jalen…


Regardless of what option Beilein chooses to go in, I would expect an announcement to come sooner than later. It’s important to have that third assistant coach locked in before recruiting starts to pick up for the summer. Beilein also doesn’t strike me as the type to make a move without a plan.

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