Robert Saleh could have had another shot at a head coaching opportunity, but this time he turned it down outright. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports that Michigan State reached out to interview the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator for their head coaching vacancy, but Saleh declined, saying he “feels he has unfinished business.”
This might say more about Michigan State than anything about Saleh. Saleh is a Michigan native, which alone is a reason to take the job. Unfortunately, Michigan State is about to be in a world of hurt. For starters, the vacancy opened up just a few days ago after Mike Dantonio abruptly resigned. This was days before National Signing Day which hurts the incoming recruitment class. Furthermore, Dantonio resigned amidst a lawsuit being filed against the school for possible recruiting violations.
The NCAA doesn’t like it when schools do bad things. They are kind of funny that way. While we are a long ways away from seeing what discipline will occur (if any), the threat of possible sanctions getting slapped on Michigan State can’t be something a first-year head coach wants as it already sets them up to fail. We saw Bill O’Brien make most of it at Penn State after coming onboard following Joe Paterno’s firing over the Jerry Sandusky scandal, but I doubt Saleh wants to do the same thing. To be fair, Penn State gave O’Brien a funky contract that gave him automatic extensions (since he signed on before knowing what the punishment would be), but it’s still tough for a coach to get momentum when the NCAA has punishments levied over you. It hurts recruitment and can turn in weaker roster development once the sanctions are lifted.
If Saleh can lead another top-10 defense into 2020, he’ll be the hottest coaching candidate and have a job in the NFL. He’s an NFL guy and waiting an additional year won’t hurt.
Maybe he’ll get a shot at the Detroit Lions...