Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Michigan's Next Football Coach?

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

It is very rare that I would pass on a Michigan VS Ohio State contest to go Holiday Shopping with My Girlfriend.

But when the Wolverines are 21-point underdogs and this is likely going to be Coach Brady Hoke's last game, then I'm not interested in watching a Swan Song.

After Michigan's 23-16 loss to Maryland Saturday, the Wolverines dropped to 5-6 and this was their best chance to become Bowl Eligible.

Right now Ohio State is hungry and they need this game to give them a punchers chance to reach the Final Four to have an opportunity at winning the National Championship in January in Dallas at AT&T Stadium.

A win over Michigan would put Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship against Minnesota or Wisconsin.

Hoke's record is currently 31-19, however in the past three seasons, he's 20-17. Top recruits are changing their minds about going to U-M and looking elsewhere.

The Big Ten needs Michigan to be a top rated school because the All-Time Winningest Program only enhances the conferences credibility. Football in The State of Michigan is a better place when the Wolverines are winning.

Assuming that Hoke is terminated, I've decided to make some suggestions on who could roam the sidelines at "The Big House."

1. Mike Stoops is the Defensive Coordinator at Oklahoma under his brother Bob. Mike coached at the University of Arizona from 2004-2011 and was 41-50. How could anybody rule out a Stoops since the bloodlines are strong in college football? Give Mike a big powerhouse like Michigan and he'd make the most of his second opportunity. Arizona has struggled throughout the years despite the recent success of former Michigan Coach Rich Rodriguez.

2. Jim Leavitt is a linebackers coach for the San Francisco 49'ers. Now I know that he won't get consideration for the job, but I'll give you reasons why he should. He built My Alma-Mater USF's Football Program from Scratch. From 1997-2009, he was 95-57 and put USF on the College Football Map. Unfortunately for Leavitt, he was fired due to conduct regarding treatment of students. He's currently working on Jim Harbaugh's staff. Since Leavitt left USF, his successors have really struggled. Skip Holtz was 16-21 in three seasons. Willie Taggart is currently 6-17 with one game left this season. Is Leavitt's fiery personality too much for Michigan Football? Probably. But right now Michigan needs a lot of energy and the 57-year old is a proven winner and his temperament could be what this university needs to reignite this once proud powerhouse.

3. Jon Gruden would bring tremendous credibility to Michigan. He's 51 and has a knack when it comes to developing young quarterbacks. Gruden went to school at University of Dayton. He was born in Sandusky, Ohio, the home of Cedar Point which is the Roller Coaster Capital of the World. He would be on an interesting roller coaster ride at U-M at the beginning. But a great way to recruit is take an NFL career record of 95-81, show the student's parents his Super Bowl Ring and tell him that he has a lot of Professional Contacts that could turn into Dollar Signs which make Dreams Come True. Anybody who watches Gruden on ESPN is definitely going to learn something. A recruit would be foolish not to play for Gruden, who would be returning to the Midwest. Can you imagine a Michigan VS Ohio State Game with two coaches from the Buckeye State? I wouldn't be going Holiday Shopping if these two faced each other in November!

4. Greg Schiano had an opportunity to become the coach at U-M when former Athletic Director Bill Martin spoke to him on December 5, 2007. Two days later he withdrew his name from consideration. During an 11-year tenure at Rutgers University, Schiano was 68-67 with a 5-1 record in Bowl Games. He coached two seasons in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Bucs but struggled with an 11-21 mark. He built Rutgers into a credible program and ironically, the school is a member of the Big Ten. The timing may not have been good for Schiano before, but since he's unemployed, it could work out this time.

5. Pat Fitzgerald will turn 40-years old on December 2. The Wolverines have seen plenty of the the Northwestern Wildcats coach since he became the head man in 2006. As of tonight, Fitzgerald is 60-52 and has guided the Wildcats to five Bowl Games. He-s 1-4 at his Alma-Mater, but the question remains, would Fitzgerald be ready to take a major climb at a program with Michigan's History? One former Northwestern Coach was Ara Parseghian who coached there from 1956-63 and compiled a 36-35-1 mark then moved on to Notre Dame. This is a tough call for the Orland Park, Illinois native.

6. Cam Cameron is a Michigan Man and what would a coaching search be without looking for one? Cameron spent 10-years at U-M where he learned from the late Bo Schembechler. He's tutored QB's Jim Harbaugh, Elvis Grbac and Todd Collins. He's also coached Amani Toomer, Derrick Alexander and Heisman Trophy Winner Desmond Howard. Cameron has worked alongside future head coaches Lloyd Carr, Gary Moeller, Les Miles and Mike DeBord. Cameron is currently the Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach at LSU under Miles. He's struggled with his two head coaching stops. From 1997-2001, he was 18-37 at Indiana. But I wouldn't hold that against Cameron because Indiana is a basketball school, and struggles on the gridiron. In 2007, Cameron's lone season with the Miami Dolphins produced a 1-15 mark. He's been a QB Coach for the Washington Redskins as well as an Offensive Coordinator for the San Diego Chargers and Baltimore Ravens.

7. Les Miles has been approached twice since Carr retired after the 2007 Season as well as in 2010 when Rodriguez was fired. While he's listened to Michigan's overtures, he declined and elected to remain at LSU then return home to his Alma-Mater. As of tonight, Miles is 7-4 and his career mark is 130-49. At 61-years old, he's signed through 2019. Would he join former SEC/Florida Coach Urban Meyer in the Big Ten? Meyer is 50 but it would be neat to see these two rivals face each other in the Big Ten. But I don't believe the third time will be the charm and Miles listens, but stays put.

8. Jim Harbaugh is going to get mentioned for this job as his status beyond this season with the 49'ers remains in limbo. If there is a reach, this one is it. Harbaugh is a former U-M QB and his name surfaces when the head coaching vacancy becomes available. He's a proven NFL QB and he's won at every coaching stop. He began his career at the University of San Diego and from 2004-2006, Harbaugh was 29-6. He moved on to Stanford from 2007-2010 and was 29-21. He mentored Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck. Then he stayed in the Bay Area to coach the San Francisco 49'ers where he's been since 2011. He's currently 43-15-1 with three trips to the playoffs and one Super Bowl Appearance. Another Michigan Man and he'll turn 51 on December 23. There will be plenty of fire in him. Now the question would be how much the Wolverines would have to pay him to return to Ann Arbor?

9. Mack Brown is currently enjoying life as a broadcaster at ESPN. But these days coaches tend to work into their late 60's and early 70's. Brown turned 63 on August 27, 1951. His overall head coaching record is 244-122-1 and is 13-8 in Bowl Games. His main coaching stops include North Carolina and Texas. He won a National Championship in 2005. If Michigan came calling, I'm sure Brown would listen very hard and this would be his last coaching stop at another Legendary Program. I believe he would take this job! Michigan and Texas are scheduled to play in the future during the regular season.

10. Mike Gundy is having a tough season at his Alma-Mater Oklahoma State with a 5-6 record. He's been coaching the Cowboys since 2005 and has compiled an 82-44 record. He's 5-3 in Bowl Games and if there is ever a time to try to lure him away from OSU, it's now. The Cowboys are paying him $3.75 Million a year and at age 47, this guy has a promising future and is off to a excellent start. Many great coaches move onto new challenges. Gundy has compiled his record being the little brother to the Oklahoma Sooners. Can you imagine if he went to a school which was the No.1 university in the state? Can just imagine what a MSU coached Mark Dantonio (58) team would be like against a Gundy coached Michigan Program. Another fiery young competitor that can bring a lot of energy into Michigan Stadium.

It will be interesting to see how the Michigan coaching search plays out. But there are a lot of good candidates who can revitalize this Legendary Program. Many of these guys are great Offensive Minds and have Developed a lot of Quarterbacks, which is an area where the Wolverines desperately need help.


Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Future NHL Markets?

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
PHOTOS BY CANDICE EBLING

I've been hearing a lot of talk lately about Future Expansion in the NHL.

The most recent rumor has been the Florida Panthers moving to Quebec City, which is in the process of building a new arena hoping for a return to the NHL.

I wouldn't be holding my breath if I lived in Quebec. Especially while Gary Bettman is the commissioner. It had to be tough enough to see the Atlanta Thrashers move to become the new Winnipeg Jets. Bettman lost a Major Southern Market, but this was the second chance for the area, which had the Atlanta Flames, and it simply didn't work.

Bettman persevered in keeping the Arizona Coyotes from moving to Hamilton, Ontario, and into Canada to preserve hockey in the Southwest.

There is no doubt that during the first week of the NHL season that Bettman had to be bothered with the Florida Panthers attendance.

During the opener on October 11, the BB&T Center was 59.3% full as 11,419 showed up and saw the New Jersey Devils defeat Florida 5-1.

The second home game on October 13, saw the stadium 38% full as the Ottawa Senators defeated the Panthers 1-0 in front of 7,311. This crowd made National Headlines for all the wrong reasons as the record low numbers circulated throughout Regular and Social Media.

There is even talk that tarps will be used at the BB&T Center to reduce the capacity, thus making it easier in theory to sellout. The NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars currently do this.

While Detroit is considered Hockey Town, South Florida is not!

The attendance woes are attributed to the new owners desire not to give away free tickets, thus everybody pays and it doesn't devalue the entertainment.

For years, the Panthers have been losing millions of dollars and are currently seeking help from Broward County for Bailout Assistance. Time will tell whether they get help.

Former Red Wing Gerard Gallant is the team's head coach and he's working for a franchise that has only made the playoffs four times since the team was founded in 1993.

The Panthers reached the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals but were swept by the Colorado Avalanche 4-0.

Florida's last playoff appearance was in 2012.

I've seen a lot of arenas throughout the years and the BB&T Center is one of the Most Beautiful!

Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland has always told me that he's impressed with this facility.

I actually live 20-25 minutes away off the Sawgrass Expressway from the BB&T Center in Deerfield Beach.

It would be totally unfortunate if the BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL becomes a White Elephant with no major tenant should the Panthers depart.

When ground was broken in 1996, it costs $185 Million to build. In 2014, the same arena would cost $268 Million.

But if the Panthers fail in South Florida, there would be plenty of cities that would welcome them with open arms.

I'm going to list some and we'll see how it plays out down the road.

1. Seattle would be an ideal place for a team but there is one major problem. There is no arena suitable. The lack of a new stadium saw the former NBA's Supersonics relocate to Oklahoma City. This would be a natural rival for the Vancouver Canucks. Key Arena could only serve as a temporary but by no means is it adequate for long term.

2. Portland, OR., would be another good Pacific Northwest Rival for the Vancouver Canucks and the Rose Garden where the NBA's Trail Blazers seems like a good spot. However, with such a small market, I doubt that "Rip City" could support two major sports especially during the winter season. The Trail Blazers have been the only game in town and set numerous attendance sellout records through the years. This could change if the Oakland Raiders decide to move to Oregon.

3. Kansas City used to be the home of the Scouts (1974-76) and were coached by Red Wings legend Sid Abel. Abel was also a part of the Scout's front office. Former Red Wing Guy Charron was a captain for KC. They played at the old Kemper Arena. Since there is no major winter sport, I could see a Missouri rivalry develop with the St. Louis Blues. The Sprint Center broke ground in 2005 at a cost of $276 Million ($314 in 2014) and the capacity for hockey is 17,544. It opened in 2007.

4. Salt Lake City, Utah., is the home of the NBA's Utah Jazz, but again the major question remains, can the area support two winter teams? I have my doubts here as well, though a good rivalry could develop with the Colorado Avalanche.

5. Oklahoma City, OK., got a gift from the NBA when Hurricane Katrina sent the New Orleans Hornets to the area, and the strong fan support ultimately secured the area as a future spot for relocation. The Supersonics moved there and have flourished. However, I wouldn't predict an NHL team moving here because once again, two major sports in a small market would be tough. The NBA's Thunder being the only game in town has given it a stranglehold on the Sports Entertainment Dollar in the Central Midwest. If an NHL team was based here, the Dallas Stars would be the only natural rival. It would be weird to see a Red River Rivalry On The Ice, a far cry from the gridiron featuring the Oklahoma Sooners VS Texas Longhorns.

6. Milwaukee, WI., is an intriguing market and there are plans underway to get a new stadium built in an effort to keep the Bucks from leaving town. For years, the Milwaukee Admirals have been a top minor league team for the NHL. Chicago is 90 minutes away so there is a natural rival for the Blackhawks. This is a very realistic possibility, however, it's a minimum of five years away. The Wisconsin Badgers have always been an elite College Hockey Team. The Badgers have made 24 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, have reached the Frozen Four 12 times with Six National Titles. This is fourth best in College Hockey History with the last National Title in 2006. Another rival for the Milwaukee franchise would be the Minnesota Wild.

7. Louisville, KY., used to have the ABA's Kentucky Colonels from 1967-1976 and the team won a championship in 1975. This area built a 20,000 seat start of the art arena for the Louisville Cardinals basketball team called the KFC Yum! Center. It's also the home of the Kentucky Derby. Lexington's Rupp Arena is also a possibility since it's in close proximity to Cincinnati, Ohio. The NHL would be the only game in town in either area. If a team was based in Louisville, it would be a financial boon to see the Kentucky Derby and NHL Playoffs going on at the same time. Although, I've seen the Indianapolis 500 and NBA Playoffs make the area a Memorial Day Sports Capital. Who can forget the Louisville is the hometown of boxing legend Muhammad Ali?

8. Cleveland used to be the home of the NHL's Barons and I'm sure Dan Gilbert would like to get a team in the Quicken Loans Arena. But I don't see this happening because the Columbus Blue Jackets seem to be Ohio's Hockey team, let alone the only major game in town.

9. Hamilton and Quebec City seem to be the next Canadian teams. The reason I'm putting these cities together is it would either be one or the other. Hamilton was once linked to the Phoenix Coyotes, but Bettman blocked those possibilities. A Hamilton franchise would have been a good rival to the Toronto Maple Leafs., but would bring no value to American Television. Quebec lost the Nordiques to Denver and while it lost a rival with Montreal, this opened up the Mountain Time Zone Region. It gave Denver a second chance to replace the former Colorado Rockies franchise. The Avalanche have won two Stanley Cup Championships.

Bettman knows that expanding into Canada does very little to build the USA TV Contracts. I don't see Toronto getting a second NHL team because there are too many other options, though this has been talked about. Canada was fortunate enough to land a team when the Ottawa Senators began play in 1992-93 after a 54-year hiatus.

10. Las Vegas, NV., is by far and away the Odds On Favor to land a team. There have been preliminary meetings with local ownership groups and ground has been broken for a New Stadium on The Strip near MGM which would have no shortage booking events. Las Vegas will easily book concerts, fights and many other events. It's just a matter of time about What Sport Wants to Take The Plunge into the Biggest Gambling Market in the World. A Las Vegas team would have natural rivalries with the Arizona Coyotes, LA Kings, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks. The league already holds it's Award Banquet in Las Vegas. This isn't a matter of if, but when this happens. Bettman and company are currently Kicking The Tires for now, but it won't be long before they're setting up shop. An NHL team would be the only game in town. If I had to wager on the NBA or NHL, then hockey gets My Bet.

So indeed there are no shortages of a future home for the Florida Panthers.

But Bettman is determined to keep hockey alive in South Florida, as he fought extremely hard to save it in Phoenix.

Having been a long time resident of South Florida, all the Panthers need to do is cash in on their NHL Draft Choices then sign them to long term deals as they become impact players. This will enable them to create a fan base that can identify with players in the community.

This is can be a good hockey market, but there has to be a product worth watching and paying for. There are many ways to be entertained in South Florida with the Beaches, Casinos, Golf, plus there are Four Major Sports, etc...

But there is potential for success and an Excellent Hockey Arena to play in.

There is no doubt in My Mind that the NHL will Expand Again.

My top four choices would be in the Western Conference. Las Vegas, Seattle, Kansas City and Milwaukee would be the Front Runners.

The NHL wants to have an even amount of teams in each conference and the Western Conference is two short.

I look forward to your feedback.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com.

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