Michigan Coaching Vacancy May Lead to Continued Instability at Butler
John Beilein's departure from Michigan Basketball shocked many who became accustomed to the consistency seen from the Wolverines in recent years. Beilein managed to guide Michigan to a pair of Big Ten regular season championships and an appearance in the Final Four as the national runner-up during the 2017-2018 season.
Beilien also built a winning program without a single McDonald's All-American during his tenure. He also elevated importance of basketball at a school that is more concerned with football results year to year. As effective as Beilein has been in Ann Arbor, sometimes coaches leave comfortable situations to conquer new challenges. At 66 years old, it also makes sense that he would want to make the NBA jump as a likely final chapter in an already stellar coaching career.
But with Beilein leaving for the NBA to stabilize the Cleveland Cavaliers, it leaves a highly sought after coaching vacancy. A vacancy that can elevate a coach's career in a wickedly competitive Big Ten conference. The Michigan vacancy also impacts the program who will lose their coach to a better opportunity.
Billy Donovan and Brad Stevens have already deflected any kind of interest in coming to Michigan, electing instead to stay in the NBA. While it seems like a pretty simple decision for both Donovan and Stevens to stay put, these rumors creates buzz with their previous success at the college level.
Former Michigan standout Juwan Howard, part of the Fab Five in the early 1990's at Michigan has also been thrown into the discussion as a possible candidate. While Howard knows what's it's like to play at Michigan, with no previous head coaching experience, it's a risky move. The Fab Five's tenure wasn't without controversy either with the team's two Final Four appearances being vacated by the NCAA.
As exciting as it would be for some fans to see an alum coaching the Wolverines, very few former players, turned coaches for their schools have done well. Patrick Ewing at Georgetown, Chris Mullin at St. John's, and Dan Dakich at Indiana, are just a few examples of limited success from former players who failed as coaches at their schools.
A pair of Big East coaches have also been contacted as possible replacements in Ann Arbor, including Providence's Ed Cooley and Butler's LaVall Jordan. After initial interest in preliminary interviews, Ed Cooley has reportedly chosen to withdraw his name from Michigan's coaching search, sticking with the Friars.
While it's disappointing for Michigan to lose out on Cooley, it allowed Cooley to reach an extension to stay with Providence. With 5 NCAA tournament appearances at Providence in his tenure, Cooley used Michigan's interest to leverage a long term deal for him and his family. Which leaves Butler head coach LaVall Jordan as a top candidate.
Jordan has experienced mixed success at Butler, compiling just a 37-31 overall record in two seasons with the Bulldogs. As a former Butler player, Jordan is another example of an alumni who has returned to his school with limited success as a coach. As disappointing as Jordan's time has been with Butler, he has an opportunity to start over with Michigan.
Jordan is a former assistant under John Beilein at Michigan, helping develop players like Trey Burke and Zak Irvin. As bad as this would be for Butler, it would provide Jordan with a better opportunity for career advancement.
Since the departure of Brad Stevens to the Boston Celtics after the 2012-2013 season, Butler has brought in three coaches over the last 6 years. As much as coaches should be selfish to advance themselves and better their family's lives, Butler has had plenty of turnover in recent years. No one blames Brad Stevens for leaving the Bulldogs to lead a team as historic as the Celtics in the NBA. It made sense for Chris Holtmann to leave Butler too for Ohio State considering how scarce quality jobs are season to season.
One benefit that can't be overstated for either Holtmann or LaVall Jordan if he decides to leave is coaching basketball at a football school. When football is the bigger focus, it allows a coach more time to build his program and there is far less immediate pressure to win right away.
With Butler Basketball being the monumental program that all other sports depend on, fans are far less forgiving when it comes to a lack of success. As much instability as Butler has had in recent years, LaVall Jordan very well could be leaving the Bulldogs soon too. If Jordan does indeed leave, it solidifies Butler as a transitional school. A place where coaches go to gain temporary success, but ultimately never stay for long, because of better chances elsewhere.
Jimmy Kennedy, who wouldn't be shocked in the least if LaVall Jordan left Butler for Michigan can be reached at email@example.com