Bo Schembechler was a great coach and did countless good things for Michigan football during and after his tenure as Michigan’s head coach. One of those was the idea of being a “Michigan Man”.* Now that we regrettably find ourselves embroiled in another coaching search, this topic has been raised again. In addition to former player Jim Harbaugh (obviously no longer a candidate), former assistant coach Brady Hoke has been mentioned as a potential candidate, in no small part because of his previous ties to the university – he fits the “Michigan Man” requirement in the job description – if you’re someone who puts stock in that.
* - I personally don’t think Bo ever intended for the “Michigan Man” statement to have the meaning it is now given. After all, Bo was about as far from a Michigan Man as he could be when he was hired.
Jim Harbaugh’s candidacy spoke for itself as he has turned Stanford into a national power in a short amount of time.* But Brady Hoke’s candidacy is more controversial . Brian and many readers of this website don’t feel that Hoke is a worthy candidate at all but the MSM keeps throwing his name out there.
* - To add to your depression, compare Harbaugh's record at Stanford to that of Rodriguez at Michigan. They are nearly identical through three years. Harbaugh just got a fourth year, went 12-1 with his first ever second-year starting QB, and at a time the conference's dominant team was doen. What might have been......
Here’s the primary reason Hoke is even in the discussion:
Michigan’s Coaching Tree….err, Stump
Bo’s coaching regime at Michigan essentially lasted for 38 years – from the day he was hired in 1969 until Carr retired after 2007. During that time Michigan was one of the most successful programs in the country. You would think that a few coaches would have sprouted off of that coaching tree over the course of 38 years – but you would be wrong.
I started researching assistant coaches over the past 20 years and where they are today. What I found was pretty startling. From 1990-2007Michigan has employed a total of only 26 different assistant football coaches (the year after Bo retired is as far back as I went with my research since age became a factor). I think part of the “Michigan Man” mentality also led to a lot of excessive loyalty. While stability is wonderful, you would expect there to be more turnover than 26 assistants in 18 years. Putting it in perspective, there are nine assistants per season so a total of 26 assistants means that they only averaged one replacement per season for those 18 years.
As a result, very few former assistants have gone on to become head coaches. Of the 26 assistants in that time period, only eight have ANY head coaching experience at this point in time. And while that number might sound reasonable, a closer look at the list reveals it is actually pretty pathetic:
- Cam Cameron – Failed miserably at Indiana and for the Miami Dolphins, now a successful OC for the Ravens.
- Les Miles – Very successful at LSU, despite his grass-eating craziness.
- Tom Reed – A now-retired coach I have never heard of before who was briefly at Miami (OH) and NC-State
- Mike DeBord - A frustrating offensive coordinator for Michigan who was terrible at CMU
- Kit Cartwright – Someone I couldn’t even find decent google-stalk info about who was briefly the head coach at Butler before getting fired.
- Brady Hoke – Has been moderately successful at Ball State and San Diego State
- Stan Parrish – Another of Carr’s favorites who had stints at Ball State, Kansas State, and Marshall but was never successful and at 65 years old is probably retired now after losing his latest job.
- Ron English – A flaming disaster at EMU so far.
That’s it folks – pretty embarrassing list for a coaching tree. Aside from Les Miles, the only person with a resume even worth a second look is Brady Hoke – now you know why he’s a legitimate candidate in the latest search.
Hoping that there were other candidates waiting in the wings, I investigated the other assistants to see where they are now. Here are some highlights:
- Jim Herrmann – Was at Michigan for 15 years before wearing out his welcome. Now the NY Giants LB coach.
- Fred Jackson – Will probably have the RB Coach job description named after him since he will never leave.
- Greg Mattison – Had a 6 year stay at Michigan and is now the DC for the Baltimore Ravens.
- Vance Bedford – A successful DB coach at Michigan for a few years, now the Louisville DC.
- Erik Campbell – A solid WR coach for Michigan for 13 years, showing the lack of promotional opportunities under Carr. Currently holds that position for Iowa.
- Teryl Austin – Was a defensive coach for a few years at Michigan and was Florida’s DC last year. Rumored to be headed to Texas to take that same position.
- Andy Moeller – Currently the assistant OL coach for the Ravens.
- Scot Loeffler – Held the QB coach spot for Michigan for a while and held that same job for Florida last year. I think he should have been given a shot at OC at Michigan when it became clear that DeBord wasn’t utilizing the NFL talent fully. Would have been high risk, but would have been worth a shot the last two years under Carr in my opinion.
- Bill Sheridan – Bounced around the NFL as a defensive position coach, most recently for the Dolphins.
- Ron Lee – I can’t find any information about where he went after his forgettable two-year stay at a secondary coach for Michigan.
- Steve Stripling – After Rodriguez let him go he took the DL coach job at MSU.
- Steve Szabo – Currently the DC for Colgate.
While there are some names on that list you might be happy to see as assistants on the Michigan sideline, no one has the resume to take the Head Coaching job. Maybe you could reach for Austin, but that’s about it.
Finally, I tried to track down former players (such as Harbaugh) that have gotten into coaching. That proved to be a nearly impossible effort via the internet if I had any hope of posting this diary in a timely manner. Here’s what I have so far and could use help adding names if anyone has more info:
- Jim Harbaugh – You may have heard something about his resume lately.
- Mike Trgovac – Has been a defensive positional coach in the NFL for years and even a DC at times. Currently the DL coach for the Packers.
- Corwin Brown – Had a mediocre stint as Notre Dame’s DC, now a DB coach for the Patriots.
- Tyrone Wheatley – Relatively new to coaching, is currently the Syracuse RB coach after having the same job for EMU previously.
I like a lot of the names on these various lists for lower-level positions, but now you can see why Brady Hoke gets mentioned. If you want someone with a Michigan background who is qualified to be a head coach, he’s one of only a couple options. I have the utmost respect for Brian and I usually agree on all of his opinions related to Michigan football, but this is one situation where I don’t. I think Brady Hoke is a serious candidate on Dave Brandon’s list and could potentially be the coach in 2011 – whether that would be as horrific as Brian makes it out to be, I don’t know.
Contrast this coaching “stump” to lowly Eastern Illinois University. They have produced Sean Payton, Mike Shanahan, and Brad Childress – not to mention all of the coaches on their respective trees. In nearly 40 years of Michigan football there are only two coaches (aside from Moeller and Carr) who are even close to having a comparable resume as those three – Les Miles and Jim Harbaugh.
In my opinion this is one of the biggest detriments of Lloyd Carr’s tenure – failure to develop a viable coaching candidate. Perhaps it was being too loyal to assistants for too long. Perhaps it was the coaches being too comfortable and not wanting to leave for another opportunity. Perhaps the conservative game-plan approach limited interest in some of the assistants. Whatever the problem, it has left us with the prospect of Brady Hoke being a legitimate candidate.