John Beilein Leaving Michigan Leaves a Bad Taste in My Mouth [OPINION]
Mondays are never great for me anyways. But, this particular Monday pill was a bit tough to swallow.
Sports fans across the state of Michigan woke up today to the news that Michigan Basketball Coach John Beilein must have been offered a king's ransom by a rich, weaselly Michigan State University graduate named Dan Gilbert; the same Gilbert whose name adorns MSU's Jack Breslin Student Events Center Gilbert Pavilion.
He is also the same Dan Gilbert that owns the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA franchise. The same franchise that lured Beilein away from Ann Arbor over the weekend, offering a lucrative, five-year deal that all but guarantees Beilein will retire at the top rank of his profession. And, honestly, that's probably the fairest scenario for a man and coach like John Beilein who has worked his way to the top of coaching from the absolute bottom.
Beilein's career started as a teacher. Then, he worked his way through the ranks coaching Division III college basketball, Division II, and some smaller Division I programs before resurrecting West Virginia's basketball program. Then, he landed at the University of Michigan when the program was still in the lowest of low spots a decade after the NCAA laid the hammer down on the U-M hoops program following the Ed Martin scandal of the 1990's.
Beilein built the Michigan program up from almost scratch. He was at the helm when the university finally decided to invest in basketball by adding on to Crisler Arena, as it was known as at the time. Offices, practice facilities, open concourse space, and other improvements were just a sign of things to come under Beilein's watch.
In 2012, the Wolverines hoisted their first Big Ten Championship banner since 1986 before being bounced out of the NCAA Tournament by Ohio in the first weekend. the following year, though, Beilein's team doubled down. Led by future NBA players Trey Burke, Nik Stauskas, Tim Hardaway Jr., Glenn Robinson III, Mitch McGary and Caris LeVert (not a single one of these guys were a high school All-American, or considered top notch recruits), Michigan found itself in the Final Four for the first time since the Fab Five era.
In 2011, 2013, and again in 2018, en route to another National Championship game appearance, Beilein was the first coach to get clean season sweeps over Tom Izzo and Michigan State. In fact, Michigan hadn't done that since the 1994 season.
Nine Michigan players were drafted by NBA teams under Beilein's watch, with a dozen other players currently playing some form of professional basketball. This doesn't even count the players he recruited that will be on their way to the pro ranks in the next couple of years.
I could go on and on about the state of Michigan's Basketball program since Beilein took over in 2007. But, needless to say, he is, far and away, the best coach in the history of the program. Look no further than his record at Michigan. His 278 wins are more than any other coach in program history.
I will always be a fan of John Beilein. But, there is a bitter taste in my mouth. Cleveland, as a city, sucks, and always has. He has been poached by a greedy, greezy Spartan, who, like most, have had to deal with the fact that Beilein may be a better ball coach than the Legend of East Lansing named Izzo. Plus, Ohio...Cleveland...really? Sounds like a poison apple to me...
Realistically, though, this next step in Beilein's career is just the natural progression of the All-American story of working your way to the top. Thanks, coach, for making Michigan Basketball fun and exciting again. You will be missed by fans and foes, alike.