john beilein, michigan

Michigan basketball is having a good month.

Last week, the Big Blue won the program’s first Big Ten Tournament since 1998 by defeating three of the conference’s top four teams. That performance vaulted the Wolverines to a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and they quickly validated the committee’s generosity by dispatching No. 10 Oklahoma State and No. 2 Louisville to reach the Sweet 16.

This run is the type that often earns coaches fresh extensions. Funny thing is, Michigan headman John Beilein was feeling his seat warm up only six weeks ago.

It was around this time last year that the #FireBeilein hashtag began heating up among the Michigan fan base.

This fan, @Kaylen2009 (AKA “#RIPChadTough”), really really wanted Beilein fired…

Entering this season, Beilein had led Michigan to six NCAA Tournament appearances in nine seasons in Ann Arbor, including two Elite 8 berths and a national title game loss in 2013. But when the Wolverines stumbled out of the gate this season, doubts began cropping up all over the internet.

On January 11, Michigan lost 85-69 to Illinois to fall to 11-6 on the season and 1-3 in the Big Ten. The Wolverines were headed to the NIT, and it was purportedly all Beilein’s fault. Some writers began wondering if it was time to give the coach the ax.

The next day, the SB Nation blog Big Ten Powerhouse ran a post headlined “Yes, It’s Officially Time To Wonder Where Things Are Heading In Ann Arbor.” Here’s a notable passage:

We still need to wait to see how things finish this season, but Michigan’s loss to Illinois on Wednesday night felt like a watershed moment. Although it’s still far too early to call for any changes at the top, it’s time to start wondering where this train is heading.

 

After that loss to Illinois, Michigan won three of four, staving off calls for Beilein’s firing, but when the Wolverines dropped back-to-back games to rivals Michigan State and Ohio State, the doubts came back.

In a since-deleted Twitter poll, Michigan blog The Wolverine Daily asked followers if Beilein should be canned—and 61 percent voted yes.

 

Even a blowout win over Michigan State days later brought snark and smarm.

As it turned out, that blowout victory over the Spartans launched Michigan on a season-saving run. Since then, the Wolverines have lost only two games: one in overtime and one on a miracle buzzer-beater.

Now, Michigan is arguably the hottest team in the country, with only a winnable game against Oregon separating it from the Elite 8.

Remember our friend @Kaylen2009? Well, retweets say it all…

Safe to say no one is calling for John Beilein’s firing right now.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for MLB.com, SI.com, the Hartford Courant, Baseball Prospectus, Land of 10, VICE Sports and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.