“On the offense last year, they had great spacing. That’s what I remember. Great spacing, great shooters, like Nik Stauskas, who’s not there right now. But they always have someone to fill the roles. They have a cutting offense, kind of hard to guard.”
Can he beat his former employer (Meyer)?
David Shaw, HC Stanford
Track Record: B+. Jim's OC all four years at Stanford. Seems to have maintained the success there, though this year will probably be his worst, record-wise. Is currently 38-9, 25-5 in Pac-12.
Michigan Ties: D-. Nothing there. Coached with Jim. Has coached in NFL at Philly, Oakland, and Baltimore.
Recruiting: B+. Had the #5 class (Rivals) in 2012, but otherwise has been solid but not spectacular (22, 64, 14).
Chances/Loyalty: D. Why would Shaw leave his alma mater for Michigan? Money would be the only conceivable reason, and I think Stanford would match.
Demeanor: B+. For a 42-year-old, he seems polished and is certainly used to operating in an arrogant, highly-educated environment.
Three Phases: A-. MANBALL offense that has had sustained success combined with aggressive, highly-ranked defenses and good special teams.
Roster Fit: A. Hard to imagine a better fit in terms of scheme for our players; he recruits basically the same guys.
OVERALL GPA: 2.76 (B-). Shaw seems like a great fit, except I don't believe he has any love for or desire to coach at Michigan. I think he is among the most unrealistic names on the list.
Kevin Sumlin, HC Texas A&M
Track Record: B+. 60-25 as a HC at Houston and A&M. Was 11-2 in first season at A&M, then 9-4, and looks to be on his way to no better than 9-4 this season. Can he excel without Manziel?
Michigan Ties: C+. Coached at Minnesota from '93-97, then at Purdue (his alma mater) until 2000. Since then has been in the south, where he was born.
Recruiting: A-. Sumlin has been killing it on the recruiting trail. Rivals #6, #11, and #15 classes the last three years. '15 class is currently at #6.
Chances/Loyalty: D+. Sumlin has some midwest ties, but has been in the south for a long time now and has no good reason to leave, unless he wants to escape the SEC West. Makes $3.1 million.
Demeanor: B+. 50 years old and presents well. Would fit the Michigan culture, IMO.
Three Phases: B. Is Sumlin just an offensive genius? The first thing I'd want to know if we hired him is, “Who's your DC?”
Roster Fit: C. Would need a significant roster overhaul for his style. We don't have the speed he likes at almost any position.
OVERALL GPA: 2.71 (B-). Sumlin seems like a quality person capable of turning just about any athlete into a Heisman-contender at QB...but can he coach a defense?
Butch Jones, HC Tennessee
Track Record: B. Maintained and even built on Kelly's success at Central Michigan, going 11-2 in 2009. Cincinnati was 12-0 in Kelly's last year (2009), and 4-8 in Jones' first year there in 2010. Did rebound to 10-3 and 9-3. Is 8-10 so far at Tennessee.
Michigan Ties: B+. Born in Saugatuck, played at Ferris State, and has coached at Ferris and CMU. Coached with Rich Rod at WVU.
Recruiting: B+. Was okay at Cincinnati (but, Cincinnati), staying near the top but not at the top of the Big East. Has been dynamite at Tennessee so far, with the #5 class last year and currently ranked #5.
Chances/Loyalty: C+. Hard to say. Butch is a Michigan guy, but he's at a top-tier program that's paying him about $3 million and might match any Michigan offer. No direct ties to U-M.
Demeanor: A-. 46. No nonsense approach and knows how to play to fanbase. Answers questions at press conferences. Would fit at Michigan, IMO.
Three Phases: B. Is an offensive guy, but hasn't gotten offense going at Tennessee. Defense has been a pleasant surprise under his watch so far.
Roster Fit: B. More Brian Kelly than Rich Rod, Jones could be successful with a Shane Morris-type at QB. Needs more space players on offense.
OVERALL GPA: 3.14 (B/B+). May have overrated him a bit. I feel he needs more time at Tennessee, but if he's interested in the job, I would definitely interview him.
Ruffin McNeill, HC East Carolina.
Track Record: B+. I believe McNeil should get more credit. Has taken perennial overachiever ECU and turned them into a ranked team. Was part of Texas Tech's strong run as a defensive coach.
Michigan Ties: F. There is nothing here.
Recruiting: C+. Has not had great success at ECU...but, ECU. No idea how he'd fare at a top-tier program.
Chances/Loyalty: C. NO ties to U-M or the midwest. Would be about the money and the chance to coach a big-time program. Is an ECU grad. Only making $400K.
Demeanor: C+. Southern guy who is not a fast talker. Seems like an awesome southern uncle. Don't think he would be appreciated in A2. 56 years old.
Three Phases: B+. Is a defensive guy, but ECU allowed over 30 pts/game until 2013. Has made steady improvement there and has now beaten some tougher opponents.
Roster Fit: B-. Defensively, it's a fit. Offensively, spready-spread needs space players, which we don't have.
OVERALL GPA: 2.29 (C+). McNeill seems like a really good football coach. Unfortunately, he has no ties to U-M, runs a completely different offense, and doesn't seem like a good cultural fit.
Kyle Whittingham, HC Utah.
Track Record: B. Was 58-22 in the Mountain West with an undefeated season in 2008 including a Sugar Bowl victory over Nick Saban's 'Bama squad. Since the move to the Pac-12, however, is just 22-18 overall and 10-19 in conference.
Michigan Ties: F. There is nothing here. Born in California and has always coached in the west.
Recruiting: B. Has done a pretty good job recruiting high-3 star types; classes average around 2.90 on Rivals. Not bad for Utah.
Chances/Loyalty: B-. NO ties to U-M or the midwest. Makes $2 million. If he's interested in running a big-time program, now is his chance (he's 54). I think he would take the chance if offered. Has been at Utah since 1994(!!!).
Demeanor: B. Boring press conferences would play well at U-M, but I'd like something better, and I think the fanbase would, too. Known as a good motivator and tactician.
Three Phases: B+. Is a defensive guy, but smart enough to find the right staff: new OC Dave Christensen's passing spread has catapulted Utah into one of the top scoring teams in the country. Would Christensen take the Utah job if Whittingham left?
Roster Fit: B. Defensively, it's a fit. Offensively, passing spread could use more space players, but simple route combinations have made his lesser athletes look great.
OVERALL GPA: 2.57 (B-/C+). If Whittingham brought his OC, or hired a proven one, this a hire I would support, though not be overjoyed with.
I'd rather have Rutgers Schiano than Tampa Bay Schiano, thank you very much
More CC candidates for your perusal.
Greg Schiano, Unemployed
Can the guy on the left beat the guy on the right?
In two weeks, we'll know with a high degree of certainty if Brady Hoke has ANY chance of keeping his job. A win against Michigan State keeps him in contention, a loss virtually guarantees what already seems inevitable: Hoke is replaced before bowl season. Of course, a win at Michigan State appears...how do I say this nicely...like a stretch of the imagination?
So let's get back to the CC candidates.
Dan Mullen, HC Miss. State
Track Record: B. Yes, the guy has turned Mississippi State into the #1 team in the country as of now. Still, he's 19-24 in SEC play, has never finished higher than 4th in the SEC West, and it has taken him six seasons to get here.
Michigan Ties: C+. No Michigan ties, but born in PA (and went to Ursinus), and has coached at Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Bowling Green, though he's been out of the midwest since 2004.
Recruiting: B. Mullen's weak spot may be recruiting, where he has only had middling classes. Yes, Miss. State caveats apply, but Mike Stoops has done better at UK in a shorter time.
Chances/Loyalty: B-. Florida seems to be the wild card here; if they don't offer him the job and we do, I think Mullen is Blue. That said, I think Florida will offer him the job.
Demeanor: B+. Just 42 years young, Mullen has matured quite a bit on in Starkville, and has grown from a guy that seemed all tactics into what appears to be a well-rounded head coach.
Three Phases: A-. Can make any QB look good, and is now demonstrating that he's not just a “finesse” coach—Miss. State's defense is tough and physical, and the offense will smack you, too.
Roster Fit: B. Yes, Mullen is spready, but it's lots of the inside zone stuff we run now, and it's a more physical roster than many HUNH guys throw out there. He would probably need a new QB for his system.
OVERALL GPA: 3.00 (B). I'd certainly want DC Geoff Collins to come with Mullen. If he does, I think this could be an OUTSTANDING (not using “Tremendous” until further notice) hire.
Mark Stoops, HC Kentucky
Track Record: B-. Good: UK's only loss this season is in overtime to Florida. Bad: Only in 2nd year as HC, and only wins in year one were vs. Miami (NTM) and Alabama State. Pretty strong track record as DC.
Michigan Ties: B-. Born in Youngstown, OH. Played at Iowa and was a GA there from '88-'91. Otherwise, has been south (Kentucky thinks they're in the south) other than a three-year stop in Wyoming. Is recruiting midwest now.
Recruiting: B+. Not enough data yet, but damn, pulled in the #20 2014 class after going 2-10 at KENTUCKY.
Chances/Loyalty: B. Seems very gettable. UK is hardly an elite program. Would he leave after just two seasons?
Demeanor: B+. 47 years old, smart guy who seems capable in press conferences.
Three Phases: B+. Defensive coach running a very Auburn-like offense at UK. Specializes in DB coaching, which is vital in today's spread world. PLEASE bring OC/QB coach Neal Brown.
Roster Fit: B-. Another spread coach, but more tempo than Mullen. That said, uses lots of backs and H's to create running lanes for QB and RB.
OVERALL GPA: 3.00 (B). Great bloodlines and positive early returns at UK, this would be another great hire, IMO. Would need to make sure he brought most of his staff.
Still to come: Scott Frost, Teryl Austin, Greg Schiano, Gary Patterson, Bob Stitt, Chad Morris, Mark Hudspeth, Kirby Smart, Tom Herman, Matt Wells, Mike Gundy, Ruffin McNeil.
"That's like trying imagine the distance to the sun," I said, responding to my wife asking me if I thought I could run a 2:37 marathon. "It's so far away from me, I can't even conceive of it." For the record, I have run two marathons. And both took me longer than 4:13.
I have said before and will say again: I love Brady Hoke. I think he's a great man, a great leader, and, to echo John Beilein, exactly the kind of man I'd want to coach my son. But he's not winning, and so he needs to go. Being a great man that can't get the right results isn't good enough in his chosen profession. That said, I expect he'll have success at whatever small school lands him, should he decide to keep coaching.
But at this point, imagining a scenario where he keeps his job is like trying to imagine me finishing a marathon in 2:37. Is it possible? I suppose so. Intense training, diet, and time commitment might make this achievable. But that objective is SO far away...
Is this guy a fit?
And so it's time to start seriously thinking about the next head football coach at the University of Michigan. I have endeavored to put together a somewhat comprehensive list of candidates. To be clear, I absolutley believe ANY of these names are possible hires. No coach will ever say publicly, during a season, that he is open to switching schools or changing jobs. It sends the wrong message to your staff, players, and fans, even if it's true. So here's the list, with brief pros and cons of each candidate. You can take these names and google them to learn more; as we get closer to the actual search, I will return with more detail on potential candidates. For now, we'll do simple letter grades of seven categories: Track Record, Michigan Ties, Recruiting, Chances/Loyalty, Demeanor, Three Phases, and Roster Fit, with a final OVERALL grade. I will do six coaches in Part I, but will follow-up with many more soon.
Jim Harbaugh, HC 49ers
- Track Record: A+. Requires no explanation.
- Michigan Ties: A. Played here but has burned some bridges.
- Recruiting: A+. Turned Stanford into a top-tier program in very short time.
- Chances/Loyalty: C. Will he leave the NFL without a ring? He's not happy in San Fran, but may be too competitive to quit without the trophy(s). That said, if he came to Michigan now, I doubt he would leave.
- Demeanor: B. Fiery competitor who wants to win. Gets the most of out his players, but is extremely demanding and controlling. Does not answer to anyone.
- Three Phases: A+. Highly successful with all three phases of the game.
- Roster Fit: A+. For both scheme and attitude, I doubt there are very many guys on this roster Jim wouldn't have recruited himself.
- OVERALL: A. If we could get him, this is perhaps the best possible scenario. Would his competitve desire take him back to the NFL? Could he get along with U-M powers that be? These are legitimate questions, but his success on the field makes them tertiary concerns.
John Harbaugh, HC Ravens
- Track Record: A. Does not have much of a college resume, but the guy has won the superbowl, been to the playoffs in 5 of 6 seasons, and is 9-4 in the playoffs.
- Michigan Ties: A. Did not play at Michigan, but has close family ties.
- Recruiting: A. Yes, this is a guess, as John hasn't coached in college since '97 with Indiana, so we have no real evidence. But being able to flash a superbowl ring at a recruit can't hurt.
- Chances/Loyalty: B. Already has his ring and is rumored to be upset with Baltimore's handling of the Ray Rice fiasco. Would likely finish his career at U-M if hired.
- Demeanor: A. Not quite as competitive as his brother, but also not quite as much of a dick. Known as a great motivator and tactitian.
- Three Phases: B+. Has always had good defenses, but offense has generally been middle-of-the-pack. Was a special teams coach from '88-'07 (until he became a HC).
- Roster Fit: A+. Glove-like fit for the current players.
- OVERALL: A. While not as fiesty as his younger bro, John may be the better fit. He even sounds like a college coach.
Les Miles, HC LSU
- Track Record: A-. Has a MNC ring. Has been a consistent, Carr-like performer in the SEC West, with many good years but only one undefeated conference season.
- Michigan Ties: A+. Played and coached at U-M.
- Recruiting: A. Has been one of the best, but would he be just as good in the B1G?
- Chances/Loyalty: B. At 60, is he still interested in moving? Again, if hired, he almost certainly finishes his career in Ann Arbor.
- Demeanor: B-. Rumors that his arrogance has led his astray. Not sure his morality is tolerable for U-M fans.
- Three Phases: B+. Has had loads of success in all three phases, but many questionable clock management choices. Loves to gamble, and his players love that.
- Roster Fit: A. Miles tends to adapt to his roster, and there is plenty of talent for him at Michigan.
- OVERALL: A-. He's an older coach with questionable ethics, but he checks all the other boxes almost perfectly. FWIW, I don't want him.
Todd Graham, HC Arizona State
- Track Record: B+. Was great at Tulsa and appears to have turned ASU into a contender in a tough PAC-12 South.
- Michigan Ties: D. Has coached at West Virginia and one season at Pitt, but spent the rest of his life (before ASU) living and coaching in Texas and Oklahoma.
- Recruiting: A-. Is getting some great talent in a competitive area at a crap school, but no real midwest ties, and may have burned some bridges in one-year stop at Pitt.
- Chances/Loyalty: C+. I think he would come if offered the job. I also think he would leave if a good SEC team hired him away.
- Demeanor: B. Southern style might not fit the midwest. Gives glory to God in post-games. Has heavy accent.
- Three Phases: A-. Defensive coach that has overseen top offesnes at ASU with limited talent.
- Roster Fit: C+. Spready-spread offense would require some serious tweaking with current personnel.
- OVERALL: B. A good coach who would probably come if offered the job with no ties to U-M and no real ties to the area. Is he a fit at Michigan?
Jim McElwain, HC Colorado State
- Track Record: B+. Limited resume as HC, but great success at virtually every stop as assistant, most recently as 'Bama's OC.
- Michigan Ties: B+. Has coached at Louisville and Michigan State; good friends with Doug Nussmeier.
- Recruiting: B-. This is really a question mark, as CSU is hardly a good place to recruit. Has not pulled in top talent there, but previous stops had great recruiting.
- Chances/Loyalty: B+. Would almost certainly take the job, and would probably stay unless hired away by 'Bama.
- Demeanor: B-. Quiet, nice guy who gives 60-minute press conferences every week. Not a great speaker, and not sure of him as a motivator, but he seems to get the most out of his players.
- Three Phases: B. Offensive coach whose defenses are okay. Need more data.
- Roster Fit: A. Uses multiple formations and lots of zone blocking; similar to Nuss. Not sure whom he would hire on defense.
- OVERALL: B. Is there any passion there? Not a great public speaker. Might fit best at smaller school, but is an up-and-coming coach that will probably get his chance as a bigtime HC someday.
Craig Bohl, HC Wyoming
- Track Record: B+. Three consecutive NCs at FCS North Dakota State. On Nebraska staff during their last great years in 90's. Can he cut it in the big-time?
- Michigan Ties: C+. No Michigan ties, but coached at Wisconsin and Nebraska.
- Recruiting: B+. Who knows? Did a great job at North Dakota State, often beating-out smaller FBS schools, but still incomplete data here.
- Chances/Loyalty: B. Would probably take the job, but may leave if Nebraska offered.
- Demeanor: B. At 56, Bohl seems like a pretty reserved guy in front of the press, but obviously gets the most out of his teams. Seems like a good fit in Fort Schembechler.
- Three Phases: B+. Defensive, 4-3 coach who wants power football. Wants to be MSU, basically.
- Roster Fit: A. MANBALL coach is a great fit for our roster.
- OVERALL: B. An older guy who may not want to leave Wyoming after just one season, but was one of the best FCS coaches ever. Seems like a great fit at U-M, even though he has no real Michigan ties.
Coming soon: Dan Mullen, Scott Frost, Teryl Austin, Pat Narduzzi, Greg Schiano, Gary Patterson, Bob Stitt, Chad Morris, Mark Hudspeth, Kirby Smart, Tom Herman, Doug Nussmeier, Matt Wells.