By most accounts, Paul Johnson wasn’t even among the list of 30 coaches who Martin wanted to talk to. Considering Michigan’s organizational arrogance, the fact that it didn’t contact Johnson was no surprise. Georgia Tech did what Michigan was too afraid and small-minded to do, which was contact and then hire one of the best coaches in football. That concept—that truly revolutionary concept of hiring a great football coach—has apparently been lost on some. Georgia Tech didn’t beat Michigan to the punch like we saw LSU do in the Miles situation. Johnson didn’t shun Michigan like Greg Schiano did. For anything like that to have happened, Michigan would have needed to first show the competency necessary to even acknowledge Johnson’s existence. Michigan simply chose to ignore him. While the search has turned into a nightmare amongst the fan-base and alumni, Martin and Michigan always had the answer sitting right in front of them. As long as Johnson was available, Michigan’s search was never in danger. Just because the majority of the fan-base didn’t know it, didn’t make it any less true. Johnson was Michigan’s Jim Tressel or Urban Meyer—or more appropriately, a combination of the two. This search didn’t reach “inept” status in my mind until Georgia Tech proved to be more competent than Michigan. Sure, Michigan could’ve handled the Miles fiasco better. But, the situation never needed to be “Miles or bust.”
Any competent AD would’ve had a list of the best coaches in football that would’ve included Johnson right at the top along with Brian Kelly and Rich Rodriguez among others. Rumor has it that the latter two never made the list either because of various “they’re beneath us” reasons. It has been speculated that Kelly wasn’t considered because of a comment that was totally misinterpreted and overblown by media types while Rodriguez is one of a number of coaches who Carr may have given the “thumbs down” to. Obviously, Carr’s petty grudges are something that nobody at UM would ever in a million years admit to publicly because UM only admits good things. Plus, acknowledging them would set Michigan up for the inevitable ridicule that would accompany admittance that Michigan was ignoring qualified coaches because of petty grudges. Carr handicapped the search process by announcing his retirement when he did—it was always best for the Michigan program for Carr to announce much later despite Carr's insistence to the contrary—and by sabotaging the list of candidates by reportedly giving the subtle “thumbs down” to Miles and Rodriguez among others. Martin, for his part, allowed all of this to happen.
Still, even with Carr’s reported attempts to make it difficult for Miles to get the job, Michigan always had the best coaching option on the table in Paul Johnson. It is my belief that Michigan didn’t
There is a very good chance that Michigan will end up with Les Miles when this thing is all said and done. Everyone will forget any of this ever happened. There will be no accountability for any of this stuff. The Michigan program will be stronger than it has been since the mid-80s and everyone will be happy. However, none of that will change the fact that the people in charge allowed arrogance and ignorance to get in the way of putting Michigan in the best possible position to be successful in this job search. While a competent AD never would’ve gotten into the situation of “Miles or Bust”, the fact that Martin never even considered Johnson, Rodriguez, and Kelly essentially guaranteed that the whole success of this search hinged on Miles coming to Michigan. He will bail out Michigan and—despite the fact that he will have to go back on his word to come to Michigan—he will be hailed as a savior.