Michigan football: Stop with the ridiculous coaching suggestions to replace Jim Harbaugh
No College Football Playoff, no Big Ten championships, no division championships and an embarrassing record vs. top 15 teams on the road — which is now 0-8 following his 38-21 loss at Indiana. He’s 3-3 vs. Michigan State and hasn’t beaten Ohio State in 5 attempts, being tuned-up 56-27 and 62-39, respectively, the past 2 years.
Michigan fans want a new coach. Some former players, such as Braylon Edwards, have also been critical of Jim Harbaugh.
So, you know how it goes: It’s now time to throw around some names and make baseless claims why’d such-and-such would be a great replacement for Harbaugh. But that’s not what we’re going to do here, UM fan.
It’s a reality check — a real shatter-your-dreams and crazy-fandom-dreams type of article.
There is no viable candidate to replace Harbaugh at this point — not in 2020, at least. Harbaugh’s contract expires next season and the idea of him prematurely walking away is quite laughable. For one, he has given no real indication that he’s the type to jump ship in the middle of a season or leave before the end of his contract.
Sure, he hasn’t provided concrete answers to questions about his intentions. He’s failed to put to bed NFL rumors. He just wants to focus on winning his next game, he’s repeated since this year’s edition of “Fire Harbaugh” reared its head on social media.
Michigan fans have been vocal about replacements, essentially regurgitating what they hear from talking heads on major networks. In some cases, they’re just pulling names out of a hat, or reminiscing about the good old days when a particular player dominated for the Wolverines. But let’s be realistic here, folks. Not one of the mentioned replacements — whether by fans or media — makes a ton of sense at this point in time.
Not even the following “candidates.”
Mike Hart: Up-and-comer at Indiana
Another ludicrous suggestion made by a weary fan base, former Wolverines star RB Mike Hart doesn’t have the experience necessary to take over a major college football program. In fact, he’d be the least experienced coach in the 140-year plus history of Michigan football. Starting as an RB coach at Western Michigan, Hart escalated to associate HC/RB coach at Indiana. He’s on the upward trajectory, no doubting that — but he’s still getting his feet wet at a bigger Division I program — bigger than WMU, at least — and hasn’t even run his own team.
But yeah, “Michigan Man,” the guy who coined “Little Brother” — an infamous MSU reference — and has all kinds of highlights while wearing the winged helmet.
Look at it this way: Does a first-time home buyer immediately hop into a sprawling estate? Does a first-time car buyer get the Ferrari or some other high-end luxury brand? No. They get a ranch-style house in a nice neighborhood and a reliable Chevy or Honda. Whatever floats their boat.
Does an employee immediately get that corner office and company vehicle? No. They work their way up the ladder, rung by rung.
That’s Mike Hart right now. He’s 34 and building a career. Just because he was a legend at Michigan doesn’t mean he’s the best option for the Wolverines, should the job become available.
But fans want him as the head coach of one of the most prominent programs in all of college athletics because he was a fantastic player … where’s the logic?
That makes zero sense.
Charles Woodson: CFB analyst/wine guru
The 1997 Heisman winner and arguably one of the greatest all-around players in college football hasn’t coached a day in his life. Today, he makes wine, mingles with the Napa Valley types and serves as a college football analyst. But, again, just because he was a great player in college and in the NFL isn’t enough reason to suggest him as a viable candidate to replace Harbaugh.
Fans must be drinking too much of Woodson’s “Twenty-Four” wine. At this point in time, Woodson as head coach would reach a new level of stupidity. Maybe if he worked with NFL DBs, or college, or even high school, then put in a few years as he climbed the ranks … then maybe he’d be a somewhat logical pick.
As for now, he’s just another name thrown against the wall by a desperate fan base that thinks they have all the answers.
Tom Brady: Tampa Bay QB
Michigan fans didn’t even like Tom Brady while he was in Ann Arbor — they wanted Drew Henson. The 6-time Super Bowl champ and media-proclaimed NFL QB GOAT has never coached; he’s still playing, leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. On top of that, he very little to no ties with the Wolverines for almost a decade after his departure.
“Dude didn’t come around Michigan until, like, 10 years later,” said former UM TE AJ Williams.
Brady has been coached by greats. He likely has the aptitude and knowledge to become a coach, if he so chooses. But being side-by-side with The Hoodie for 19 years does not automatically qualify the 3-time NFL MVP to hop into the saddle in Ann Arbor.
Tom Allen: Head coach, Indiana
Tom Allen has the potential to become a legend at Indiana. He just signed a 7-year deal with the Hoosiers in 2019, worth approximately $27 million. He just beat Michigan, so naturally, UM fans want that guy as the new coach. By that logic, why not get MSU’s Mel Tucker, who signed a 6-year deal with the Spartans?
Allen is proving to be a great coach. But he’s had a few good years at Indiana, so let’s slow down the hype train. Maybe in a few years, and if he’s still doing the same in Bloomington, the Wolverines — if they found it necessary — could pry him from IU and offer him a truckload of cash, something like the $8 million per year they pay Harbaugh.
Right now, Allen is probably safe and very comfortable making $3.9 million per year. He isn’t expected to make the Playoff or win the Big Ten; IU just wants him to stabilize the program and avoid losing seasons.
Matt Campbell: Head coach, Iowa State
This name has been mentioned for the past couple of years, ever since things have gone awry for Harbaugh. The 40-year-old is one of the top younger coaches in the game, but let’s put this in perspective: He’s 31-27 at Iowa State — which plays in the Big 12 — and his only previously head coach (other than interim) experience was a 4-year stretch at Toledo. He’s won a couple of Big XII Coach of the Year Awards, which is good … but still, to suggest that he’s ready for Michigan is absolutely insane.
Luke Fickell: Head coach, Cincinnati
He said no to Michigan State, for obvious reasons. MSU is rebuilding after a nasty end to the Mark Dantonio era. He was an interim coach at Ohio State in 2011, bridging the gap from Jim Tressel to Urban Meyer, and guided the Buckeyes to a 6-6 record. For just the 3rd time since 2000, the Buckeyes lost in 2011 to Michigan, with Fickell calling the shots for OSU.
Since taking over in Cincinnati, Fickell has posted a pair of 11-win seasons and has the Bearcats ranked in the top 10 for the 2nd time in school history. Right now, they’re No. 7. They peaked at No. 4 in 2009 under Brian Kelly, who obviously has done quite well at Notre Dame.
Out of all the suggestions, Fickell makes the most sense, honestly.
Urban Meyer: LOL
This has to be the most ignorant and laughable suggestion of them all. There is an even a “rumor” post — by a media outlet that shall remain nameless and not receive a link — suggesting that influential Michigan boosters are trying to go after Meyer, the exact polar opposite of what Michigan looks for in a coach.
At Florida, he had dozens of players get into trouble with the law. Serious stuff, too. Shady recruiting practices, the whole thing with Zach Smith — from Florida all the way to Ohio State — allegedly beating his wife and Meyer not reacting until forced. … Urban Meyer, huh?
You want that guy in charge at Michigan?
Win some games just to have them vacated years later and tarnishing the image of Wolverines football? We’re not even going to get into the numbers or specifics on this one. It’s just the most enthusiastically absurd suggestion known to mankind.
Lastly, a former player weighs in on Harbaugh …
There is no denying that Harbaugh has underachieved at Michigan. Not grossly, but somewhat. He’s had rather standard UM seasons, with 8-, 9- and 10-win campaigns.
Get more on Harbaugh by watching this interview with former UM TE AJ Williams, who was a redshirt senior in 2015 — the year Harbaugh took over in Ann Arbor.