I just exchanged email with Mr. Bacon, with respect to the length of the quotation I pulled from pages 88 and 89 of the book. It makes life easier for John, with his publisher, if quotations are kept short enough that there won’t be any questions. John aksed me to keep it short and so I will. He hadn’t yet seen the post, so he had no other comment. And because the length and detail of the quote were sort of essential to my “told you so” comment(s), I edited those portions as well. If the net result is having turned this into a teaser, just get yourself a copy of the book and have a look!]
Several days ago, before I had my copy of John U. Bacon’s Three and Out: Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines in the Crucible of College Football, Brian Cook had indicated that there wasn’t much discussion in the book of defensive coordinators.
It is true, that the book treats Greg Robinson at a respectful distance, with an emphasis on respect. I’d like to leave you all the chance to explore that issue on your own with your own copies of the book, I think you will find the discussion interesting, human and nuanced.
But I do want to return to the issue of Jeff Casteel.
I haven’t really written or done anything very daring. I’ve been aware of the general rumors, which are largely confirmed by circumstantial evidence, although heretofore the sourcing has been a bit spotty. And if my “story” (certainly not any sort of “reporting”) were to be put into Cliff Notes form, it would run something like this:
That Jeff Casteel was all set to come to Ann Arbor with Rich Rodriguez in December of 2007. Casteel was going to join Calvin Magee, Dusty Rutledge, Rod Smith, Bruce Tall, Barwis & Co., etc., etc. in Ann Arbor. But that Casteel essentially changed his mind, when Bill Stewart was hired as Rodriguez’s permanent replacement. Casteel’s decision was based on a couple of things. One was that he was making okay money — good by Big East standards — in West Virginia, and Two was that with the surprising Stewart “permanent” hire, Casteel could stay with some security and perhaps even greater freedom to run his 3-3-5 defense under Stewart who was sort of his equal. Those two professional factors, plus the simple fact of keeping his family secure and settlled in West Virginia (Casteel has two school-aged daughters) were what kept Casteel at WVU.
I have gone on with my theory: That after Scott Schafer was fired in 2009, Rodriguez went back to Casteel again, but again got the answer of ‘Sorry, no.’ And that at that time, Michigan’s offer was little more than what Casteel had been making at West Virginina, and certainly NOTHING like what Michigan would offer Greg Mattison twenty-two months later.
The third part of my personal theory is not mine at all but is the repetition of the rumor from the Mountaineers’ blog TheSmokingMusket.com. Most of you have seen it posted several times, in several incarnations. It is basically that in late 2010, with Rich Rodriguez fighting for his job, he had hoped, for a third time, to lure Casteel to Ann Arbor. Dave Brandon was then the AD, and Brandon didn’t mind saying publicly that Michigan had had a problem with paying football assistants/coordinators, and he knew he’d have to do something about it. As the story goes, Rich Rodriguez made his final overture to Casteel, with assurances that the pay would be a substantial raise. Casteel considered it, but he wanted more; he wanted to be assured that if he joined a Rodriguez staff, that they’d all be around for a while. Essentially, David Brandon was facing a choice — double down with Rodriguez and Casteel, or pull the plug on everything and look for a new head coach.
We know what happened. But in the several places that I have posted this unsurprising theory (I’ve never presented it as anything more than a theory), I have occasionally been called out, asking for facts and sources and quotes and et cetera.
Well, despite Brian’s having told us that there wasn’t much DC news in the book, and my having glossed over this section in the book in the first two days that I had it (I was instead focusing on the features in my previous Diary entry, namely the Free Press and the factions), there was some news from John U. Bacon. It was clearly no surprise to me, but pages 88-89 of Three and Out supply the story:
However, when Stewart offered Casteel $275,000 and, more importantly, a two-year contract, it looked pretty good compared to Michigan’s offer: $265,000 and no contract at all. Casteel decided to stay put.
“If they don’t hire Stewart,” Parrish said in 2011, “Jeff Casteel comes to Michigan.”
And if Casteel had joned Rodriguez’s staff?
Parrish didn’t hesitate: “It would have been completely different.”
Bacon, J. U.; Three and Out, Farrrar Straus and Giroux 2011, pp. 88-89.
So there you have it. No, I didn’t write those two pages for John. I don’t claim any great insight in having written what I did when I did. It all seemed like common knowledge to me, and I could never understand — and still don’t understand — why anybody would want to fight about this issue so much.
And of course the part of the story about the efforts to hire Casteel in the waning days of Rodriguez (the Smoking Musket rumor) remain unproven and unsourced. I’ll work on it.
But here once again, we see that MGoBlog was accurately foreshadowing what will now be news with John U. Bacon’s Three and Out. Join me in celebration, MGoBloggers; we were right. We’ve been right all along.