John Beilein 'excited' to return to Michigan next season

Rod Beard
The Detroit News
Michigan head coach John Beilein tweeted on Wednesday that he'll be back as Michigan's men's basketball coach.

Michigan coach John Beilein danced with the idea of making the jump to the NBA. After having a meeting and interview with the Pistons last week, it was just a jump he wasn't ready to make.

After Beilein's candidacy for the Pistons job became public on Friday, Michigan fans were in a frenzy, wondering whether they would lose Beilein, who led the Wolverines to two trips to the title game in 11 seasons.

Fear not, Michigan fans. Beilein said in a tweet Wednesday he was "excited about coaching our Men's Basketball Team next season and in the years to come!"

“I think it’s the right thing," ESPN basketball analyst Seth Greenberg told The Detroit News. "The Pistons' situation is not ideal. An NBA coach is as good as his roster, and that roster is in flux. As great a coach as John is, Stan Van Gundy was a very good coach, too, but you’re only as good as your roster.

“It’s good for Michigan, it’s good for college basketball. I think it’s good for John. I’m not sure coaching 100 games — there’s a lot more coaching in the NBA than people realize. It’s a lot of travel. Could he do it? Sure. But if it it’s anyone — John Beilein or Tom Izzo or Billy Donovan, Bill Self — coaches people talk about making the transition — you don’t mess with happy. Losing 50 games does not make for happy."

Beilein is the all-time winningest coach at Michigan, with a record of 248-143, and is one win away from his 800th at the college level. He has led the Wolverines to the NCAA title game in 2013 and 2018, eight NCAA Tournament appearances, two regular-season Big Ten titles, back-to-back conference tournament championships and a single-season program record 33 wins last season.

Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel had repeatedly made clear he wanted to keep Beilein at Michigan.

"We are thrilled that John Beilein will be our coach now and into the future," Manuel said in a statement released Wednesday night. "We made it a priority to sit down shortly after our tremendous run in the Final Four to discuss and solidify his future at Michigan. 

"Michigan has become home for John and Kathleen the past 11 years and we are excited they plan to stay for years to come." 

That he even was a candidate for the Pistons' position was a surprise to many, because of the success he's had at Michigan and at age 65, the thought was that he would finish his career in Ann Arbor. 

Beilein signed a two-year contract extension in November 2015 that runs through 2021. His annual base salary is $3.37 million, which made him the ninth-highest paid coach in college basketball this past season.

Last month Beilein acknowledged that he was negotiating a contract extension with Manuel, one that could be announced in the coming days. Manuel at the same time expressed his desire to retain Beilein through the end of his coaching career.

“I don’t want John Beilein to coach anywhere else, and he knows that,” Manuel said then. “He understands my feeling toward that. You can take that for what it’s worth. I’m not prepared to make a statement today, but I don’t want him to go anywhere else.”

Beilein is regarded as one of the best in the coaching ranks because of his play-calling and player development, which would have been huge assets in the NBA, even drawing raves from Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens.

“He’s done an incredible job. No doubt, he’s one of the best coaches at any level in the world,” Stevens said Tuesday on the Dan Dakich Show on 1070 AM in Indianapolis. “Like anybody else, if he makes the move to the NBA, it’s not about how good a coach he is; it’s about how supported he is.”

Greenberg said Stevens' success might have played a role in the Pistons' courtship of Beilein.

“The attraction was because of the success of Brad Stevens," Greenberg said. "You’re seeing that more cerebral approach, that quiet intensity, almost the Tony Dungy of basketball, that that been more successful in the NBA recently and John fits that mold. He’s cerebral, he’s a great tactician he has non-negotiables that are not debatable, so I could see why he would be attractive."

Instead, Beilein returns to Michigan, where he's bringing in another stellar recruiting class and could be poised to make another deep run in the NCAA Tournament. 

Among the seven players the Wolverines will be welcoming back next season are starters Zavier Simpson, Isaiah Livers and Charles Matthews, who opted to return for his redshirt junior year. Moritz Wagner, a potential first-round pick in the NBA draft, is the only significant early departure. 

John Beilein’s record at Michigan

2007-08: 10-22 (5-13 Big Ten) – No postseason

2008-09: 21-14 (9-9 Big Ten) – Lost to Oklahoma in second round of NCAA Tournament

2009-10: 15-17 (7-11 Big Ten) – No postseason

2010-11: 21-14 (9-9 Big Ten) – Lost to Duke in second round of NCAA Tournament

2011-12: 24-10 (13-5 Big Ten) – Lost to Ohio in first round of NCAA Tournament

2012-13: 31-8 (12-6 Big Ten) – Lost to Louisville in NCAA Tournament championship game

2013-14: 28-9 (15-3 Big Ten) – Lost to Kentucky in NCAA Tournament Elite Eight game

2014-15: 16-16 (8-10 Big Ten) – No postseason

2015-16: 23-13 (10-8 Big Ten) – Lost to Notre Dame in first round of NCAA Tournament

2016-17: 26-12 (10-8 Big Ten) – Lost to Oregon in NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game

2017-18: 33-8 (13-5 Big Ten) – Lost to Villanova in NCAA Tournament championship game

Staff writer Angelique S. Chengelis contributed.