If Rich Rodriguez Is Fired, Who's The Next Michigan Football Coach?

Ryan FallerAnalyst IJanuary 2, 2011

Rich Rodriguez's time at Michigan is awfully close to coming to an end.
Rich Rodriguez's time at Michigan is awfully close to coming to an end.Rick Dole/Getty Images

Michigan will fire Rich Rodriguez by week’s end.

If you ask me, it would have already happened if Athletic Director Dave Brandon wasn't choosing to play things so close to the vest.

In the wake of the worst bowl loss in school history, Rodriguez’s termination seems all but imminent, but Brandon was adamant Saturday about upholding his timeframe for evaluating the head coach.  Others have implied that may be a smoke screen used while lining up the proper replacement for Rodriguez, who is 15-22 in three seasons at Michigan.

"I said it from the beginning, this is the way we do it, and it's appropriate," Brandon said. "The football season is over, and now I will complete the evaluation process."

Brandon said he plans to make a decision only after he and Rodriguez arrive back in Ann Arbor from Jacksonville, Fla., where Michigan was blown out in a 52-14 loss to Mississippi State in the Progressive Gator Bowl.

By the back end of the week, Brandon said he will have come closer to rendering a verdict on Rodriguez. Until then, we can only assume the hammer will be dropped, which leads us to compile a list of candidates to succeed Rodriguez, as well as the odds of whether or not these candidates will receive/accept the job offer.

Here are some names to consider, some of which are guaranteed to appear on Michigan’s short list, while others are mere suggestions:

Jim Harbaugh

Some believe Harbaugh is Michigan’s top candidate and will receive the red carpet treatment when Rodriguez is ultimately shown the door. It only makes perfect sense, given Harbaugh’s background and the idea that a job at Michigan is a considerable step up, even from his current cushy situation at Stanford.

If Michigan decides to make a sales pitch to Harbaugh, the Wolverines won’t be alone. Stanford recently offered him a contract extension, which Harbaugh has yet to sign, and league sources confirmed to ESPN’s Adam Schefter Sunday that NFL teams are making a serious push.

Odds: 5-2


Brady Hoke

Hoke won’t be Michigan’s top choice, but his success at the mid-major level is hard to ignore. At Ball State, a program that had not reached the postseason in seven seasons prior to his arrival, Hoke twice guided the Cardinals to a bowl game, including the International Bowl after an 11-1 regular season in 2008.

Now in his second season at San Diego State, Hoke led the Aztecs to a 9-4 record and the program’s first bowl win since 1969.

Hoke has paid his dues, and whether he receives his big break at Michigan—where he was the defensive line coach for eight seasons prior to being hired by Ball State—or elsewhere, he’s likely to succeed.  

One thing to keep in mind is if Harbaugh were to reject or be passed over for an offer from Michigan, Hoke has some serious ties with the Harbaugh family.  Hoke coached under Jim's father Jack Harbaugh at Western Michigan, where he also worked alongside John Harbaugh, Jim’s brother.

Odds: 10-1


Les Miles

As I stated in a past article, Miles, a former Michigan assistant, reportedly spoke over the phone with Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman prior to Rodriguez’s hiring.  The interest may still be there, though Coleman has said the decision of hiring Michigan’s next head coach solely belongs to Brandon.

Miles is currently under contract at LSU through the 2014 season, but that didn’t stop him from talking last time. Is the potential reward of successfully rebuilding the Michigan program that much greater than what Miles has going in Baton Rouge, which is solid despite what the annual naysayers claim from season to season?

Odds: 40-1

Randy Edsall

The Connecticut head coach has worked miracles the last 12 seasons in Storrs, transforming the Huskies from a decent Division II program to a legitimate BCS threat. Edsall has compiled 74 victories during his tenure, and his name has quickly become synonymous with coaching vacancies in recent seasons.

Michigan could be his shot, but would the school be interested? If so, they had better throw their hat in the ring and do so quickly, because Edsall has reportedly jumped over Mike Leach to assume the role of top candidate for the job at Maryland.

Make that very, very quickly, as the Washington Post is reporting that Edsall is expected to be named the next head coach at Maryland as early as Monday.

Odds: 200-1


Urban Meyer

It seems stupid even to think it, but nothing in college football surprises me these days, especially the fickle nature with which coaches—past or present—operate.

Meyer had his swan song with Florida on Saturday, but who honestly believes that will be the last we see of him? As CBS Sports columnist Dennis Dodd points out, Michigan’s most direct path to Meyer could be through Rodriguez, whom Dodd suggests could be retained for a fourth season while Meyer clears out some of the cobwebs.

After all, Meyer is a proven commodity and has all the track record you want in a candidate.

Sounds ridiculous, yes, but in 12 months time, you never know.


Odds: 300-1


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