Sunday evening, ProFootballTalk.com reported that the NFL’s New York Jets would be making an attempt to hire Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh after the season.
The Jets are currently 4-11 this season with one game remaining and head coach Todd Bowles is expected to be fired.
The trends have not painted a positive picture. After finishing 10-6 in Bowles’ first year with the Jets in 2015, the last three seasons have gone 5-11, 5-11, and no better than five wins this season.
Harbaugh, meanwhile, is on the complete other end of the success spectrum. He has taken the Michigan football program to heights they have never seen before. This year alone, Harbaugh’s Wolverines did the unthinkable and tied for a division crown.
In three of his four seasons at Michigan, the Wolverines have nearly made it to the Big Ten Championship Game almost every year. He clearly has the program on the right track, and leaving now would seem foolish, especially having successfully chased Urban Meyer out of the Big Ten.
The chatter persists, however.
Harbaugh is now finishing up his fourth season at Michigan, and he hasn’t spent a fifth-consecutive season anywhere in over 25 years. He was at Stanford for four years and San Francisco for four years as well.
Maybe he believes it is time to scratch his NFL itch once again.
I don’t expect him to leave, but if he does, the University of Michigan will be able to lure any number of top candidates.
Who should be on their radar? I have some ideas.
1. Brian Kelly, head coach Notre Dame
Brian Kelly has been talked about as a candidate for the NFL in the past and at times it seems like he and Notre Dame have grown out of love. He would be a good fit for the Wolverines. He’s familiar with the state and recruiting the Midwest, but would he want to take a step down athletically, academically, and historically?
2. Tom Herman, head coach Texas
Tom Herman is not on good terms with Ohio State right now, so he could be an appealing option for Michigan. Of course, wanting to get the better of Ohio State and being the Michigan head coach are mutually exclusive at the moment.
3. Condaleezza Rice, noted American
Condaleezza Rice has picked up steam as a potential football coach and there is little doubt that she would be a great recruiter. The Xs and Os would be an issue, but that didn’t stop Michigan from hiring Brady Hoke.
4. David Shaw, Stanford head coach
This is the most natural fit because David Shaw is the coach you go to when you want to improve upon what Jim Harbaugh has done.
5. John Harbaugh, Baltimore head coach
You know that Treehouse of Horror episode of The Simpsons where it is discovered that Bart was a de-conjoined twin as a baby and his twin Hugo had been living in the attic because he was deemed to be the evil twin and then later it was found out that it was actually Bart who was the evil twin? Let’s just say this could be a working theory in Ann Arbor right now.
6. Kirby Smart, Georgia head coach
Kirby Smart is the next great head coach in college football but maybe he doesn’t want to be.
7. Mark Dantonio, Michigan State head coach
Mark Dantonio has experience beating Ohio State, which should put him at the top of Michigan’s search list. Michigan probably won’t offer him the job, however, because he’d have too much fun saying no. He still owes Michigan some skywriting, after all.
8. Matt Campbell, Iowa State head coach
Matt Campbell is eventually going to be coaching at a Big Ten power, and coaching at Michigan would be good practice for when that happens.
9. Mark Richt, Miami head coach
Let’s be honest, being the head coach at a program like Miami is only meaningful for an alum like Mark Richt. Players don’t reach their potential, coaches don’t reach their potential, the team folds in big games, and the fans are in denial about the current status of their program. Wait a second, have Miami and Michigan ever been seen in the same room together?
10. Urban Meyer, Ohio State assistant athletic director
Urban Meyer is about to have some time on his hands after the Rose Bowl and he owns the best winning percentage in Michigan Stadium history, so the timing couldn’t be more perfect.