At this point Brady Hoke is about as likely to return to Michigan as Winnetka Road, which ran on CBS from early 1994 to late-early 1994, is to return to primetime television. So, who are the candidates to replace him in Ann Arbor? There are several, but for now let's focus on the best case scenario guys.
Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers Head Coach
Pros: Michigan alum (did you know that?), played for Bo (whaaaaa?), his teams always play stifling defense, has won everywhere he's been.
Cons: He won't come to Michigan while Dave Brandon is the AD, and even then some fences have to be mended by Michigan's Board of Regents.
This is the dream hire, obviously. He has a huge name, a huge track record of winning, and has a history of doing it with kids who want to attend an academically challenging school. Also, I don't know if you know this, but he played for Michigan. When (not if) Dave Brandon is fired at the end of the season, Michigan will push all in, and I think they'll get him (Hot Take Alert!).
John Harbaugh, Baltimore Ravens Head Coach
Pros: Super Bowl winner, still young, he--wait, why am I still--he won a Super Bowl and he's Jim's brother, so
Cons: <scratches head>
There were rumors last year that Harbaugh was ready to move on from the Ravens--rumors that didn't make sense at the time, but in light of the Ray Rice tire fire, do now. Mostly, they were fueled by this post here. No idea if any of it's true, but it does say "Insider" and if you believe that he wanted to cut Ray Rice immediately until Baltimore told him no, he didn't, then what begins as a conspiracy hypothesis suddenly becomes a full on conspiracy theory.
Les Miles, LSU Head Coach
Pros: Is a Michigan Man, having both played at Michigan and started his coaching career under Bo, has won a national title and played for another, is fantastic(ally insane)
Cons: Can't seem to get QB right, is 61 years old, questions (not from me) about recruiting outside the bounty of the bayou, is fantastically insane.
Michigan has taken two runs at Les Miles, and they've been twice rebuffed. But at sixty-one, this would be the last chance Miles will have to return to his alma mater and finish his career where he started it. The question, of course, is does he want to return to his alma mater and finish his career where he started it. If he does, and the Harbaughs don't take the job, search over. Welcome home, Les. If he doesn't, Michigan won't ask again.
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State Head Coach
Pros: Like Hansel, he's so hot right now, is only 42, which means that a successful run would mean long-term program stability, has to be ready to get out of Starkville
Cons: Will probably take the Florida job if/when it comes open
Mullen seems destined for Florida. He was the Gators' OC under Urban Meyer and he already wears visors, so. But. Muschamp beat(ish) Tennessee last week, and the Gators are still very much alive in the SEC East. For all the chaos surrounding that program, it will still be difficult to justify making a coaching change if Florida ends the season with three losses or less, which is a real possibility, which dovetails nicely into this:
Michigan fans should be huge Florida fans right now. If Muschamp can somehow hang on for another year, barring something unforseen, Michigan will be the only major program in the market for a new coach, and it's so much easier to eat when you're the only shark in the water. If I were ranking these coaches in order of likelihood to take the job, I'd go something like:
- Harbaugh, Jim (In fact, I'll call it right now: he's the guy. It'sa Caliparian fit. Jim Harbaugh was born to be the head coach of Michigan, and I don't think anyone believes he'll be back in San Francisco)
- Miles, Les (Third time's a charm?)
- Harbaugh, John (Seriously, I think he was horrified by the Ray Rice thing)
- Mullen, Dan (Florida, plus the M search may not get this far)