Hey everyone this is Sam and we need to discuss Michigan Football. I’m not a Michigan fan, but it just seems like they are always in my life. They are one of the most popular teams in the nation. My younger sister absolutely loved them (along with her favorite WVU) during high school because of the Fan Five and Tom Brady vs Drew Henson rivalry. Then she went to college and married a big WVU/Michigan fan. So I always stay up to date on them.
Well six years ago I was floored when Michigan got Coach Jim Harbaugh from the San Francisco 49ers to come in as their next head coach. They had recently fired Brady Hoke and no one thought they could get Harbaugh. He was fresh off a Super Bowl appearance and had worn out his welcome there. I thought for sure he would just get an equal or better NFL job. He was supposed to be a very good coach and Michigan got him.
Everyone even me thought that the Michigan football would be winning the Big Ten and National Championships in three years. It’s Year Six and they haven’t sniffed a National Championship let alone a Big Ten title. Watching them it appears they play at an average level, but can’t get up to beat their rivals. Coach Harbaugh hasn’t beat Ohio State yet and struggles to beat Michigan State. They lost to an awful MSU team just two weeks ago.
Is He The Right Guy? Should He Go?
I think this is a real tough question because he is such a motivator and great speaker. Believe me, I know. I listened to his podcast and he can talk the talk which makes him an NFL coach. Not a college coach. I think he has to take a job in the NFL coaching job after the season. There should be some good ones coming open. This way Michigan doesn’t have to fire him and he saves face when he turns his career around.
Who Can Replace Him?
Michigan is still a great job and a high profile one. Coaches still dream of coaching at Michigan, so they should be able to get a good coach. I think they need an up and coming coach not a coming off the Super Bowl coach. However, everything I’m reading is the boosters are wanting their “Michigan Man” to lead them to the National Championship. Let’s look at MY five candidates. One NFL guy, two Big Ten coaches who I loved and two Michigan Men.
Byron Leftwich – Tampa Bay Offensive Coordinator
Yes, I know some of you are yelling, “No way!!!” Others are yelling, “Homer!” Yes, I’m from WV, but I’m a Gator fan. Not WVU or Marshall, so that’s not the reason I’m looking at him. Yes, I know this is a long shot and Michigan probably won’t even consider him unless Tom Brady can talk him up. Coach Byron Leftwich has been a very good coordinator for Tampa Bay. Anyone remember Jameis Winston throwing for over 4,000 yards and over 30 touchdowns? Do you have a clue how hard that had to be?
Many of you are yelling, but look at now…he has Tom Brady. Well, he is trying to play buffer between Brady and head coach Bruce Arians. Anyone think he’s not doing a bad job with that? He is a good offensive mind and he would bring some toughness to Michigan that they sorely need. Don’t believe me? Go YouTube Byron Leftwich driving down the field in college on a broken leg with his offensive linemen carrying him down the field between plays. He can teach toughness.
Coach Leftwich is a rising star in the coaching ranks and Michigan needs to at least give him a look. I seriously doubt they do. He will be getting a head coaching job soon probably in the NFL.
P.J. Fleck – University of Minnesota Head Coach
This is one of MY favorite picks and I might have to make Michigan a backup favorite team if they hire Coach P.J. Fleck. Yes, I drank the Kool-Aid. He has this “the IT factor” that players love. They will run through a wall for him. If Michigan came calling I think he would listen because he knows the area and a proven good recruiter. He coached at Western Michigan and is from the Midwest.
I know many of you want a strict disciplinarian and an old fashion coach. If you do then you probably don’t like Coach Fleck’s college rah-rah attitude of doing things for your teammates and school. He led Western Michigan to its first ever bowl win and has turned the Minnesota Golden Gophers into a top 15 team last year. Coach Fleck capped it off with a huge win over Auburn in the bowl game.
Coach Fleck could get into Michigan’s traditions and sell the facilities to bring in some unbelievable recruits. He knows how to coach them up and win the big games. In my opinion, Coach Fleck should be at the top of their list to go get.
Pat Fitzgerald – Northwestern Wildcats Head Coach
This is one of MY second favorite picks and I might have to make Michigan a backup favorite team if they hire Coach Pat Fitzgerald. I know he keeps saying that he wants to stay at Northwestern and he has stayed so far. I understand his reasons since he is a Northwestern alum that loves Evanston. However, it is Michigan calling. You answer and at least listen.
Coach Fitzgerald does more with less than anyone else in the Big Ten consistently and a lot of other conferences. Other than last year, he usually has the Wildcats competing in the Big Ten West. Coach Fitzgerald has even had them in the Big Ten Championship game which even Coach Harbaugh hasn’t did that.
Coach Fitzgerald is a great coach who gets the most out of all his players who love him. He may never leave Northwestern and I will really respect him if he decides to stay at his alma mater. Michigan has to call him and pull out all stops. They would be very lucky to get him.
Mike Hart – Indiana Hoosiers Running Back Coach
Well when you talk to any Michigan fan and mention the next Michigan Coach they will always talk they need a Michigan Man. They believe they are special and understand what is expected of them. If you ask most fans who is their favorite running back then a lot of them would say Mike Hart. He was an undersized back that gave everything he had for Michigan. Most talk about his heart and passion.
Hart is a good assistant coach at Indiana, but has been at Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, and Syracuse as an assistant also. He has a very good reputation on the recruiting trail. Hart is a Michigan Man and seems to be working his way up the ladder. He knows the area and is loved by the fans. The problem is that he has never been a coordinator or head coach. I really think the Wolverine job is WAY too hard and high up the coaching ladder for someone who doesn’t have head coach or coordinator experience. Can’t see this happening.
Nick Sheridan – Indiana Hoosiers Offensive Coordinator
Now, while I looked at Mike Hart just because every Michigan fan loves him. Nick Sheridan is a possibility for real. He is the offensive coordinator at Indiana and people are starting to mention his name as a possible head coach sooner or later. Coach Sheridan is 32 years old and is moving up the coaching ladder quickly. This is his first year being offensive coordinator for the Hoosiers.
For those of you who don’t remember Coach Nick Sheridan as a Michigan Man, he was a walk-in who ended up receiving a scholarship his junior year and then started four games his senior year. I don’t believe he was a standout player for Michigan. There’s no doubt Coach Sheridan will be roaming the sidelines, but I’m not sure it will next year at the Big House. I don’t see him being ready yet. However, if Michigan would take a chance on him then they need to be ready to give him some time.
As we have seen there have been many young guys succeed recently like Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Sean McVay. He needs to have a year long quick plan, a 5 year vision and how he plans to get buy in from the players. If you just have to have a Michigan Man, I think Coach Sheridan is your man.
I don’t know if they fire Jim Harbaugh after this season due to Covid-19. They should and both should just move on. Best scenario is like I said above is for Harbaugh to take another NFL coaching job. Either way, if they do then personally, I am hoping for P.J. Fleck or Pat Fitzgerald to take the position.
What do you think happens? Does Jim Harbaugh leave one way or another? If so who should Michigan go after? Did I leave someone out that you want as the coach? Let us know here at Sports Obsessive in the comments below.