Top Candidates to Replace Brady Hoke as Michigan Head Coach

As Brady Hoke’s tenure draws to a merciful end , speculation turns to possible replacements.

Michigan’s swift and brutal collapse precludes anyone from the current staff replacing Hoke; even highly touted offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier has been tainted by the team’s failure.

The resignation of athletic director David Brandon only adds to the intrigue. Any potential coaching candidate may wait until interim athletic director Jim Hackett either takes the job permanently or is replaced by university president Mark Schlissel.

If Hackett replaces Hoke he needs to learn from his previous mistakes. Whomever is selected can’t be viewed as a backup choice because the school whiffed on its top picks and the search needs to be quick and efficient.

Here are the top candidates to replace Hoke:

Cam Cameron

Cameron is currently the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for LSU under Les Miles. He spent a decade at Michigan where he began as a graduate assistant and eventually rose to wide receivers and quarterbacks coach. He was considered a coaching prodigy at Michigan before leaving to be the quarterbacks coach in the NFL (Washington). Cameron’s rise stalled after returning to be Indiana’s head coach where he compiled a 18-37 overall record. After Indiana he returned to the NFL with San Diego mentoring quarterbacks Philip Rivers and Drew Brees, Miami (a one season 1-15 stint at head coach) and Baltimore.

Pros: Michigan ties, and strong background developing pro quarterback talent.

Cons: No recent recruiting experience at the collegiate level, poor track record as a head coach.

Assessment: Once Cameron would have been considered an elite candidate for Michigan but his experience has primarily been as a pro assistant with little success as a head coach. Has strong ties to John Harbaugh at Baltimore but his odd midseason firing during Baltimore’s Super Bowl run raises questions.

Likelihood of Getting the Job: A great candidate for quarterbacks coach but slim chance of being head coach.

Jon Gruden

Gruden’s name comes up whenever a major program is conducting a coaching search. Michigan fans went ballistic when this snippet from his college yearbook surfaced:
Gruden has expressed interest in returning to coaching telling an audience in 2013, “I haven’t lost a game in 3 1/2 years…I would like to give coaching one more try.”

If and when he decides to coach again, Gruden will have no trouble getting interest from pro and college teams and his role of broadcaster has given him access to the top programs in the country.

Pros: Strong professional experience, won a Super Bowl with Tampa Bay. He has been a popular broadcaster with ESPN since 2009.

Cons: Only four seasons of coaching at the collegiate level (1986-89), and no recent collegiate recruiting ties.

Assessment: Gruden’s name often surfaces for collegiate openings despite his lack of collegiate experience and time away from coaching. Gruden would be a high profile hire that would fit with athletic director David Brandon’s vision of Michigan being an elite destination however, Gruden has shown no recent inclination that he would be interested in coming to Michigan.

Likelihood of Getting the Job: Low


Chuck Martin

Martin is currently the head coach of Miami (Ohio) after serving as offensive coordinator at Notre Dame and head coach at Grand Valley State. It’s dangerous business to compare anyone to Michigan legend Bo Schembechler but check out this Martin quote out via The Miami Student:

Here’s what’s in it for you if you come to Miami: I’m going to kick your ass every day. If you don’t want that, then that’s fine. I’m good. Not many people are selling you a good ass-kicking these days.

Martin also took a significant pay when he came to Miami and is praised as a top coaching prospect by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports:

He was the perfect combination of experience and acumen; a proven tactician and motivator. He could both develop talent and recruit it, both at the elite level of Notre Dame and finding diamonds in the rough in D-II.
While Miami was once was considered the cradle of coaches, Martin learned his craft at Grand Valley State under Brian Kelly before taking over and winning 48 straight regular season games (2005-09) winning two division II national titles.

Pros: Great success as a Division II head coach, extensive recruiting ties throughout the midwest.

Cons: Less than one season of Division I head coaching experience, Doesn’t have the profile of some other candidates.

Assessment: In 1969 Michigan lured Bo Schembechler away from Miami and the rest is history. Martin has great credentials to lead a major program but doesn’t have the national profile to satisfy alums who have suffered through the Hoke era. He probably has the best upside of any coach on this list.

Likelihood of Getting the Job: Low


Jim Mora

Current UCLA coach Jim Mora is rumored to be on Michigan’s radar to replace Hoke. Mora has experience coaching at the college and pro level (Atlanta and Seattle) and has done a good job rebuilding UCLA. While at UCLA Mora has turned down offers from both the University of Washington and Texas.

Pros: Proven ability to rebuild college program.

Cons: Has stated that he hopes to retire at UCLA, no recruiting ties to the midwest.

Assessment: Mora would be a great choice, but he doesn’t appear to be available.

Likelihood of Getting the Job: Low


Greg Schiano

Former Rutgers and Tampa Bay (NFL) head coach. Schiano is credited with building Rutgers football up to the point where it could join the Big Ten.

But not everyone is a fan. Former Rutgers player Anthony Davis blasted Schiano after signing a lucrative NFL contract via CBSSPORTS.COM.

He does admire Schiano for sticking by his beliefs while leading Tampa Bay via WWW.NJ.COM:

I respect him for keeping his ways no matter what happened…He believes in what he believes in and he’ll die by it. Even if I don’t believe in what he believes in, I still think it’s pretty impressive that he can stick to what he believes in so firmly.

Schiano was heavily criticized for his style of coaching and game tactics before being fired after the 2013 season.

Pros: He’s available, Michigan previously tried to hire him in 2008. He has extensive recruiting experience.

Cons: Bailed on Michigan once before, stumbled badly at Tampa Bay (NFL).

Assessment: Michigan thought Schiano would be its coach in 2008 before he changed his mind. He still has strong support among some boosters who admire how he rebuilt Rutgers.

Likelihood of Getting the Job: Medium


Les Miles

Miles has been a candidate to be head coach at Michigan forever– just ask his agent. In the past the rumors have always resulted in a new contract and a raise. But LSU may be tired of Miles after a subpar season.

Pros: Extensive experience at the college level and bonafide credentials as a “Michigan Man”.

Cons: At 61 is he up for rebuilding Michigan? Might have a trouble recruiting to Michigan’s academic standards.
Assessment: Les has long been a favorite of Michigan fans.

Likelihood of Getting the Job: It’s his for the taking if either Harbaugh declines.


J. Harbaugh (John/Jim)

The Harbaugh brothers have been the topic of speculation for years among Michigan fans.

Athletic director David Brandon tried to hire John Harbaugh and talked to Jim during his last coaching search. Sources have reported that John will not pursue the Michigan job, citing his friendship with Brady Hoke.
John is a great coach and with solid integrity. According to ESPN John was one of the few people within the Baltimore Raven organization to immediately call for the team to cut ties with Ray Rice after a controversial video emerged:

Although the grainy video did not show what had happened behind the elevator’s doors, the images horrified Ravens coach John Harbaugh, according to four sources inside and outside the organization. The Super Bowl-winning coach urged his bosses to release Rice immediately, especially if the team had evidence Rice had thrown a punch.

Jim on the other hand has a long and complicated relationship with Michigan going back to playing days as quarterback for Bo Schembechler. After playing in the NFL, he interviewed for Lloyd Carr’s staff but didn’t get the job. A few years later he took shots at Michigan while he was the head coach at Stanford.

Jim Harbaugh is the number one coaching prospect for most Michigan fans. Rumors abound that his act might be wearing thin in San Francisco and Michigan might be a viable option for him.

John Harbaugh

Pros: Extensive experience at the pro football level.

Cons: No recent recruiting ties at the collegiate level.

Assessment: John has the right temperament to fit in at Michigan but is reportedly not interested.

Likelihood of Getting the Job: Low


Jim Harbaugh

Pros: Michigan ties, head coaching experience at the collegiate (29-21 at Stanford) and pros (44-16-1 at San Francisco). Recent collegiate recruiting experience.

Cons: High maintenance, contentious relationship with NCAA and opposing coaches. A beat writer’s dream.

Assessment: Jim Harbaugh is the only candidate who will satisfy most Michigan fans. It’s unlikely he would mesh with current athletic director David Brandon but there are factions at Michigan that would more than happy to clear that obstacle out of the way. The big question is whether Harbaugh would surrender his dream of winning a Super Bowl and return to Michigan. Jim and John are hyper competitive and John has a Super Bowl ring—beating Jim to win it. If Jim can get over that then the Michigan job can be his.

The stars have aligned and Jim can name his terms to return.

Likelihood of Getting the Job: It’s his for the taking.

Phil Callihan

Editor-in-Chief, UMGoBlue.COM Publisher, UMGoBlog.COM, UMGoVideo.COM, UMGoPodcast,COMFollow on twitter UMGOBLOG

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Phil Callihan

Editor-in-Chief, UMGoBlue.COM Publisher, UMGoBlog.COM, UMGoVideo.COM, UMGoPodcast,COMFollow on twitter UMGOBLOG