This season has gone from bad to worse for the Michigan Wolverines. They began their Big Ten season with an embarrassing loss to Minnesota, losing 30-14. Michigan hadn’t lost to Minnesota since 2005 before Saturday’s game. Michigan now drops to 2-3 overall and 0-1 in conference play. As the program keeps crumbling in front of our eyes, it’s time to focus on the future.
It’s safe to say that head coach Brady Hoke is firmly on the hot seat. Hoke is now 28-16 as the head coach of Michigan. The Wolverines seem to regress year after year and week after week under this coaching staff. It’s evident in his fourth year that Hoke isn’t the man for the job. His players aren’t being taught the fundamentals. They couldn’t tackle against Minnesota. His quarterbacks look terrible, the line is inconsistent and so is the defense for that matter. Everything is going wrong for Michigan, including the kicking game. There is not one bright spot. That has to be put on the coaching staff. As in-state rival Michigan State and long-time rival Ohio State continue to win games, Michigan has become a national and regional laughing stock. Michigan is now looking up to Michigan State. It’s sad to see a storied program fall so far.
The right head coach can bring Michigan back to prominence. Currently, Michigan is last nationally in turnover margin. Hoke’s record against rivals Michigan State, Notre Dame and Ohio State stands at 4-6 overall and 0-5 on the road. His team often looks ill-prepared and soft. Michigan’s offense continued to struggle against Minnesota on Saturday. The defense didn’t do much better. To top it off, even though quarterback Shane Morris got hurt, he was left in longer than he should have been. It was terrible player and game management by Hoke and his staff. Hoke is just way in over his head. So the question now is who are the possible replacements?
A name that has recently come up a lot lately is John Harbaugh. The current Baltimore Ravens head coach would be a wonderful hire. He went to high school in Ann Arbor and his dad Jack was an assistant under Bo Schembechler. As a coach he is 64-35 overall and has a .646 winning percentage. Harbaugh led his Ravens team to a Super Bowl in 2013. He has an NFL pedigree and would definitely right the ship. I’m sure recruits wouldn’t mind playing for a Super Bowl champion. With more reports coming out about the ailing relationship between Harbaugh and management, it’s very possible that he could leave after this year. If Michigan calls, with the right amount of money, I see no reason why he would say no.
Another possibility, yet less likely, is his brother Jim. Jim Harbaugh has actually played at Michigan under Bo Schembechler as quarterback from 1983-1986. Unlike his brother John, Jim has actually been a head coach in college. He led San Diego for three seasons and went 29-6 and led Stanford for four years and went 29-21. In his last season with Stanford, Harbaugh was 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl. He’s now the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. His team went to the Super Bowl in 2013 and his overall NFL record is 37-13. He just knows how to win. He has quite a different coaching style than Hoke and that may be a big positive. A recent report stated that Jim has “very little interest” in the Michigan job. That may be the case, but it’s still very early in the year. His 49ers team is currently 1-2. He has a bad relationship with management and reports are that he has lost the locker room. If that is true and athletic director Dave Brandon ends up leaving, along with Hoke, he may just be enticed to coach at Michigan. It’s less likely, but it’s still a possibility.
The third possibility is a current successful college coach and he too is a “Michigan Man.” Les Miles is currently leading LSU to another good season. Right now, LSU is 3-1 and overall Miles has a coaching record of 126-46. Miles was close to becoming head coach in 2011, but a missed call and a few egos on the Michigan side stopped that from happening. Miles once said, “I would never say no to Michigan.” If that’s the case, then Michigan should go after him. He can coach, obviously, and is a great recruiter. He knows the expectations that Michigan fans have, so it’s not new territory. He would be a great Michigan coach and frankly it’s a move that should have been done in 2011.
Another possible option is Dan Mullen. He has a 40-28 coaching record and is 3-1 in bowl games. He took over Mississippi State and has them starting hot this year. They are currently 4-0. He also has done a great job recruiting as well. According to Rivals, Mississippi State has the 11th-ranked recruiting class for 2015. A fresh perspective may help this situation. Perhaps, being too wrapped up in our past has hurt us up to this point. A new perspective and a fresh start would only further help the program.
These are just a few of the top candidates if head coach Brady Hoke does indeed get fired. One thing is for sure and that is that Michigan needs change and fast. They can’t keep this coach and this coaching staff. They can’t sustain this toxic culture. You can only live off your legacy and tradition for so long. With Michigan State and Ohio State competing at high levels every year, Michigan can’t afford to wait around for a rebuild. They must act and act correctly. If the university does indeed get rid of Hoke and perhaps Brandon, university president Mark Schlissel should take his time and do his due diligence for both vacancies. This hire will be very important to get right. The coach must bring back the winning culture, bring the Michigan toughness back and bring the prestige back, because, well this is Michigan fergodsakes.
Fatima Harajli is a contributor to TheBigHouseReport.com. Follow her on Twitter @fharajli1.