Friday, June 15, 2012

New Ranking A Sign Of Beilein's Progress At Michigan

Recently, ESPN did an analysis on Big Ten basketball and ranked which head coaching jobs they thought were the best in the conference.  Normally, I don't respond to these types of lists because they're pretty arbitrary and are often based on some questionable logic, but I decided to respond to this one because of what it symbolizes for Michigan's basketball program.  Indiana, in unsurprising fashion, led the Big Ten as the best coaching job.  However, perhaps the most exciting placement was Michigan at #4, just behind OSU and MSU respectively.

As I said, normally these lists don't mean much, but I do think this is a sign of what John Beilein has done for Michigan's program over the last several years.  When Beilein took the job, Michigan was in the wake of a major scandal and had a lengthy absence from any relevance.  In fact, by time Beilein got Michigan back to the NCAA Tournament in his second season, Michigan had gone over 10 years without going to the NCAA Tournament.

To overcome these factors in what has become the best basketball conference in basketball and have the #4 coaching job is pretty impressive.  I mean, look at Wisconsin and Purdue.  Both teams were fairly consistent before and during Beilein's tenure, but Michigan was ranked above them.  Now, once again, I want to point out that these types of lists are never 100% accurate, especially because they often judge such arbitrary topics like "best coaching job", but it's still interesting to look at for Michigan's progress.

The impact of the list is still relevant, even if this list isn't perfect.  Before John Beilein arrived in Ann Arbor, I don't think anyone would have considered Michigan's coaching job to be anywhere except the bottom of the Big Ten.  That perception is now gone.  As I talked about after Michigan won its first Big Ten title since 1986, this is all part of Michigan's goal of rebuilding its image to what it was before the Ed Martin Scandal.  Michigan is very relevant in the Big Ten and it shows in these types of lists.  The perception that Michigan is only a football school is over.  Sure, football will always be bigger in Ann Arbor, but basketball is clearly relevant again.

This list isn't going to help Michigan win anymore Big Ten titles or get any top-level recruits, but it does show that the perception, even outside of Ann Arbor and the Big Ten, has improved for Michigan.  This type of perception will help Michigan on the recruiting front and will help the program gain more national recognition.  Like I said, the list alone won't do this, by the perception that the list symbolizes for Michigan basketball will do big things in the future and it can be clearly seen on the recruiting trail, Michigan's place in the rankings, and Michigan's invitations to big tournaments.

However, the most exciting thing about these type of developments might be that Beilein and Michigan aren't done yet.  Typically, a team has a good year or two then fades for a year or so to recover a bit.  That shouldn't be happening for Michigan anytime soon.  Beilein should finally have the depth and talent he needs for this team to compete at the top level consistently and I think it's going to be a great run for Michigan.  In fact, Michigan may actually improve on these types of lists in the future, which is great considering where this lists puts the Michigan basketball program.

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