It has begun. Brian from MGoBlog has written a post on possible Brady Hoke replacements:
When you’re a four point dog to Rutgers it’s time to start keeping an eye on potential new head coaches.
61-year-old Les Miles is also in this group. If he had a time, it was 2007. I’m not saying there’s no chance… but there isn’t much of one. And you already know all about him anyway.
Cook is a realist. He is levelheaded. He doesn’t get too carried away, not anymore at least. This is “part 1” of his post, and focuses on probably the best options out there. He (rightfully) calls the Harbaugh brothers and Kevin Sumlin pipe dreams. Unfortunately some of the guys on his actual list only seem marginally more likely than pipe dreams.
In his sixth season, Dan Mullen finally looks like he is taking Mississippi St. somewhere. It is too soon to see if it’s a blip or something more real. MSU always seemed like a stepping stone for Mullen, but would Michigan be a step up in it’s current state? That is the biggest problem right now. Michigan has struggled for a while. Sure it’s one of the most prestigious programs in the country historically, but it has fallen way down. Add the fact that Big Ten is clearly not in the same tier as the SEC and Pac–12 right now, and it’s hard to see this being a step up for some. A coach in the SEC fits in this group. Mullen is very solid, and likely will be a candidate for a top tier job. If Florida becomes available (where he was an assistant) that seems like a much more logical fit. Mullen isn’t a pipe dream because no one from Mississippi St. should be for Michigan. But it seems very unlikely.
Mike Gundy is in his 10th season at his alma mater. He has one of the richest+active boosters in the country looking out for him. He can probably coach at Oklahoma St. for at least 5 more years without an even lukewarm hotseat. He hasn’t left for (probably) dozens of other jobs he could have had. He is loyal to his alma mater, and just doesn’t make any sense at Michigan, or anywhere else for that matter at this point.
Todd Graham of Arizona St. is known for comically job hopping a bunch in the last few years. No ties to Michigan, or the Big Ten really. He has strung together a couple of decent to good seasons at ASU. The Pac–12 is the #2 conference in the country right now, and ASU has the luck of being in the weaker south division. ASU could be (at least) the third best team in that division yearly if they recruit well. Michigan has a tougher division, and is much further behind the competition at this point.
How David Shaw isn’t a pipe dream seems insane. Attendance problems and salary are nice bullets to throw out there, but the natural more for Shaw is the NFL. He has experience there as an assistant, he coaches a pro style offense and his predecessor had success1. Why would Shaw leave a top 20 program for a team that can’t even compete in their division? Just for money? Shaw will either be at Stanford or in the NFL five years from now. No question.
Butch Jones on the other hand, is where things finally start to make sense. Jones is from Michigan, and was both a assistant and head coach at Central Michigan. He is in year two at Tennessee, and has looked just OK so far. Would he want to jump ship after just two seasons in the SEC? Hard to say. The SEC East is solid, and Tennessee is probably currently not in the top tier with Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and Missouri.
Kevin Wilson was an interesting name to throw out. It shows how far Michigan has fallen (more on that in a moment) that they would consider an Indiana coach that has not had tons of success. This one doesn’t make much sense at all.
Jones is the only name on this listen that seems truly realistic. That must be a blow to Michigan fans. When they lured Rich Rodriguez from West Virginia, after he had already turned down Alabama, it seemed like a coup. Michigan would return to glory soon, with one of the best coaches in the country. Everyone knows how that ended. When Brady Hoke was hired, he was not an a-list candidate. The program has dropped much further down the pecking order since then. There is no reason to believe that an A-list coach (Shaw, Gundy) is coming now.
Cook knows what he is doing, and this list is no doubt to just cover bases. No one on this list seems too real. Even if Michigan fans don’t want to accept it, no A-list guy is walking through that door. More likely the real candidates will come in part 2 (or three).
- Even though Harbaugh has had some issues, they are mostly personality related, something that doesn’t really apply to Shaw [↩]