Ever since Jim Harbaugh was officially taken off the market by accepting an offer to coach the San Francisco 49ers, most of the speculation surrounding the Michigan coaching search has centered on LSU coach Les Miles. This is very reminiscent of Michigan's coaching search three years ago in that regard. All of the smoke surrounding the search focused on Miles ending up in Ann Arbor, but as we all know that didn't happen. Miles stayed at LSU, but once again his name is frequently coming up as Michigan's next potential head coach.
While all signs may point to Miles being the current favorite to land the Michigan head coach job, it's important to not focus too narrowly on one guy. The search to replace Lloyd Carr taught us that, as did the drama with Harbaugh last week. I imagine most of the news this week will involve Miles until he either announces he's staying at LSU or decides to take the Michigan job (assuming an offer comes his way), but this StoryStream update focuses on the other names out there with the Michigan coaching search and other general news surrounding the search.
Speculation suggests that San Diego State coach and former Michigan assistant Brady Hoke is the Wolverines' ultimate fallback plan. If Michigan is unable to hire Les Miles or simply decides to go in another direction, many assume that Hoke will get the call to become the Wolverines' new head coach. He hasn't hidden the fact that coaching Michigan is his dream job, and his supposed contract extension with SDSU has not been formalized yet. It's possible that he's waiting for the Michigan coaching search to play out before moving forward by signing a new contract with the Aztecs. It's unclear if Michigan is as interested in Hoke as Hoke is interested in Michigan, but for what it's worth, his agent didn't have much to say when asked about the U-M job.
The man who just led the TCU Horned Frogs to a 13-0 season capped off by a win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl has been brought up a lot by fans as a potential candidate for the Michigan job. He has built TCU into a national power, and although his team is headed to the Big East next season, many people believe Michigan should at least consider him as a candidate.
As of last Wednesday Gary Patterson had not been contacted by Michigan, but even if he has since then, it's unlikely he is leaving TCU anytime soon. He just received a contract extension, and although that doesn't mean he wouldn't be able to leave if offered the Michigan job, it's a strong sign that he is committed to staying at TCU. After all, he's in a very fertile recruiting ground by being in Texas, and the Big East isn't exactly the strongest conference in the world. To say the least, he's in a good situation right now, so it's not expected that he would be that interested in an offer from Michigan if he even got one.
Former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy said in an interview on the Dan Patrick Show last Friday that Michigan had not called him about the job and that he was glad that was the case.
"They did not. And I’m kinda glad," NBC’s Football Night in America analyst said. "I grew up about 20 miles from there and my dad is a big, big Michigan man. But, I’m glad they didn’t call me."
Dungy explicitly said he's done coaching. The reason he's glad Michigan didn't call is because how tough it would be to turn down a potential offer from the school, both for the money involved and the fact that he has ties to the state of Michigan.
Nebraska's Bo Pelini had his name thrown into the Michigan coaching search by The Toledo Blade. Leaving Nebraska for a rebuilding project at Michigan, a team in Nebraska's division starting next season, gave me great skepticism over Pelini even remotely being interested in Michigan, and that skepticism was confirmed last Friday. A writer from the AP got in touch with Pelini and relayed that "in no uncertain terms," Pelini said "he has no interest in (the) Michigan job."
Current Monday Night Football announcer and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden was rumored to have interviewed for the Michigan job over the weekend. No official reports on the matter have come out, so it's likely it was only a rumor. After all, Gruden's name has been brought up for virtually every football coaching vacancy on both the pro and college level, so this is probably another case of Gruden being mentioned as a candidate when he probably has no interest in changing jobs.
As already mentioned, Jim Harbaugh is the 49ers' new head coach. During his introductory press conference with San Francisco, he said this about Michigan:
"I had some options at the college level and pro teams, and two that I'd like to highlight, Stanford and Michigan, both of them I consider my universities and they have great leaders at both schools and will have great coaches.
"I felt like it was what I wanted to do at this time, was coach in the National Football League."
I think that last statement just about sums up the Harbaugh saga. He was the perfect candidate for Michigan, but in the end he wanted to coach in the NFL.
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon has been mum on the coaching search, keeping information on it close to the vest, but he did confirm that a search firm is being used. He is not forming a search committee and it appears this decision will be solely his, but he decided to hire a search firm in order to gauge interest potential candidates might have via a third party. This allows for some discretion, both for coaches that are contacted about the job and for Michigan, which wants to keep leaks to a minimum.
So far Brandon has done an excellent job of keeping things quiet. There has been plenty of speculation about the coaching search, but no substantial news has leaked out. Really the only decent source of information for fans trying to get a glimpse of what's going on has been FlightAware.com. On that site fans have been tracking planes that Brandon may be affiliated with, including one that was in Baton Rouge last week and another that went to Dallas. I would imagine that until a coach is hired we won't hear anything substantial from Brandon, so tracking planes that might have him on it is probably the best way to speculate on what is going on behind the scenes.