This blog isn’t about Paul Johnson; this is about SMU. I will give you just one link:
This isn’t about Air Force’s Troy Calhoun; this is about SMU. Here is another link:
Should we credit SMU for aiming high? Perhaps.
Are they still aiming high? Perhaps. I don’t know.
The one thing I do know is that SMU now has a giant frackin’ public relations problem on its hands. SMU, for whatever reason, has chosen to operate its coaching search in silence. That is a terrible, terrible mistake. And it is a mistake for one reason: Everyone was always going to find out anyway.
Does anybody really think no one was going to find out SMU was pursuing Johnson? Ridiculous. This isn’t about Ford’s plane. Nobody ever saw Georgia Tech’s plane or Duke’s plane, but everyone knew they were interested.
Does anybody think Duke and Georgia Tech only contacted Navy after they found out SMU called them? That is ridiculous.
Does anybody think Duke and Georgia Tech were not going to find out how much money SMU was willing to spend or that those figures would not get out in the media? Again, that is ridiculous.
Does anybody think that SMU would contact a number of coaches and none of them would let that information leak? I hate to use the word “ridiculous” a fourth time, but I have to. That suggestion is ridiculous.
The truth is SMU has not officially said one GD word about the coaching search. That might be fine if the coaching search lasted a day or two, or even a week. However, we are in the middle of week six. I will now detail everything we know for sure:
- SMU most recent target was Paul Johnson (we actually don't know he was the first choice);
- Paul Johnson turned us down;
- No matter who SMU hires, he was not SMU's first choice;
- At least one other coach has said, "Thanks, but no thanks." (we actually don’t know how many.)
I would tell you more but I don’t know anything else for sure and nothing else has been leaked or reported in the paper.
What is Plan B? The question is and of itself is indicative of the problem. No one-not coaches, not fans-should ever definitively know there is a plan B. It should be muddled and conceivable that no matter if the guy was actually 5th on the list, Orsini can claim he got his guy.
Granted, Orsini isn’t the only one to screw that up this year. But then again, SMU isn’t Michigan or Arkansas. There is a culture of losing here and a tendency to panic at the slightest sign of adversity. Even Copeland spoke of it. That will be one of the things the next coach has to change. And if he has to single-handedly slap every season ticketholder across the cheek to make that happen, I am all for it. And again, that is why the decision to conduct a coaching search inside a cone of silence was an incredibly poor decision.
I don’t know definitively who the next target is but I still believe, as I always have, the goal is to hire a coach that is currently a head coach in Division I bowl-subdivision (IA). Who that is now, I have no idea. My advice is to find a list of salaries start at around $1.5 million and look for coaches you think might jump. I think you can hypothesize that SMU has the ability to pay $2,000,000 per year for a coach. Any agent worth his salt is going to ask for it all.
What is SMU’s timeframe? Again, I have no earthly idea. I hope it is soon. As I mentioned yesterday, nearly six weeks have passed and jobs have been filled, recruits have been lost, junior college signing day may very well come and go. Does anyone think SMU does not need an infusion of talent?
In retrospect, perhaps it would have been better to wait until the end of the season to fire Phil Bennett. Then, SMU fans could have focused their ire at him for the final four weeks of the season and the team's performance rather than keeping their ears to the ground hoping to hear something (anything) about who would be the next head coach. If that were the case, then SMU would only be in week two of the coaching search instead of week six. Orsini could have still gone about his business of raising money and hiring a search consultant behind the scenes (one thing we actually have learned is Orsini can keep his secrets). Maybe A&M's athletic director got that one right.
My advice to SMU at this point is obvious: Move fast and decisively. And do so more openly. Orsini still has a certain amount of good will with SMU fans built up, but not that much.