Rich Rodriguez Fired: 11 Potential Candidates to Coach Michigan Football

Rich ThomaselliSenior Writer IJanuary 4, 2011

Rich Rodriguez Fired: 11 Potential Candidates to Coach Michigan Football

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    Rich Rodriguez, the embattled coach of Michigan football, was fired this afternoon according to multiple media reports, including Fox2 Detroit and the Detroit Free Press.

    Now what?

    Rodriguez spent three seasons in Ann Arbor, his tenure marked by mostly by historic losses. He went 15-22 in three seasons and 6-18 in the Big Ten, losing a combined six games to arch rivals Ohio State and Michigan State.

    His first season in 2008 produced the first losing year in Michigan football since 1967, as the Wolverines went 3-9 and ended a streak of 33 consecutive bowl appearances.

    Now speculation obviously turns to who the next Michigan coach will be. Most of the conversation has centered on Stanford coach and former Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh, but the Detroit Free Press reported on Tuesday that Harbaugh is unlikely to take the job.

    That remains to be seen, of course, but there is no shortage of candidates.

Mike Leach

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    Good coach, strange guy (talk like a pirate day?!?).

    Plus, he comes with all the baggage from his dismissal at Texas Tech and his current lawsuits against the school (for wrongful termination) and ESPN (for defamation of character).

    Michigan would never take this gamble.

    CHANCES: Zero

Jon Gruden

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    The former Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach grew up around college football. His father, Jim, was an assistant coach to Dan Devine at Notre Dame.

    Gruden himself coached at Tennessee, Pacific, Southeast Missouri and Pitt before entering the pro ranks, winning a Super Bowl title with the Bucs in his first season in 2002.

    He’s energetic, knowledgeable, loves to work with quarterbacks—and probably wouldn’t even give this job a sniff if U of M came calling, which is doubtful anyway.

    CHANCES: Slim to none

Gary Pinkel

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    The University of Missouri coach would be a nice fit. He’s a Midwest guy, having played his college ball at Kent State, and was the head coach at the University of Toledo—45 minutes from Ann Arbor—where he won a Mid-American Conference title in 1995.

    Pinkel is a defensive coach, something Michigan desperately needs. Before becoming a college head coach, he served under Don James at Washington.

    Pinkel took the Missouri job in 2000. He has guided the Tigers to seven bowl games during that span and has posted double-digit victories in three of the last four years.

    CHANCES: Slim

Mike Trgovac

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    Bet the Old Blues in and around Michigan would love this choice.

    Trgovac’s name popped up three years ago when Lloyd Carr announced his retirement. Trgovac was an All-American guard at Michigan under Bo Schembechler, so he definitely falls into the category of a “Michigan Man.”

    Problem is, the current defensive line coach for the Green Bay Packers has no head coaching experience.

    CHANCES: Slim

Greg Schiano

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    The Rutgers coach was another presumed candidate back in late 2007 when Michigan officials revved up the search, though he took himself out of consideration.

    At the time, Schiano was a hot name. He had just taken the Scarlet Knights to an 11-2 season and a Texas Bowl berth in 2006, and was really rebuilding that program. But after three more bowl bids in the ensuing years with eight, eight and nine win seasons, Rutgers slipped to 4-8 in 2010.

    CHANCES: Slim

Jeff Tedford

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    Another name that briefly popped up during the previous coaching search.

    Three years ago, he was a hot name.

    Now, not so much.

    While he has certainly rejuvenated the Cal program, his streak of seven consecutive bowl games came to an end this season with a 5-7 mark.

    CHANCES: Fair

Chris Petersen

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    This is an interesting candidate (if he even is one). The Boise State coach has done wonders with that program, turning a mid-major school into a national powerhouse that has contended for the national title.

    He’s bright and innovative with the X’s and O’s—maybe too much so for Michigan faithful—but he’d be like a kid in a candy shop with Denard Robinson running the show at quarterback.

    But Petersen has also seen what happened to his predecessor, Dan Hawkins, who left Boise State for the “big time job” at Colorado and was awful.

    CHANCES: Fair

Gary Patterson

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    Great coach, great guy and his success speaks for itself. The 21-19 victory over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 finished up an undefeated 13-0 season for the Horned Frogs.

    But now that TCU is going to the Big East, where his path to a BCS bowl berth each season would be considerably easier than coaching in the Big Ten, would he want to leave?

    CHANCES: Fair

Les Miles

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    He's a Michigan grad who played under Schembechler. Miles, currently the LSU coach, was highly sought by Michigan three years ago, but it didn’t work out.


    It depends on how you look at it. While he makes some of the strangest coaching moves in college football, he’s a Michigan Man and has won a national championship at LSU.

    CHANCES: Fair to good

Jim Harbaugh

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    If the reports are true that he wants to continue building what he started at Stanford, all bets are off.

    If not, Harbaugh’s coming back to Ann Arbor. It’s that simple.

    CHANCES: Anywhere from slim to a lock

Brady Hoke

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    If the reports about Harbaugh wanting to stay at Stanford are true, Hoke has to be the odds-on favorite.

    He’s a former Michigan assistant who served under Lloyd Carr when the Wolverines won a share of the national championship in 1997. He has the pedigree that satisfies the crowd who want a lineage back to Bo Schembechler to coach the Wolverines.

    Hoke would also be coming from a small program—like Schembechler did when he jumped from Miami of Ohio to Michigan—as he led San Diego State to a 9-4 mark two years after guiding Ball State to a 12-1 record and a bowl berth in 2001.

    But his overall record is 47-50 and that won’t sit well with a lot of fans.

    Still, unless athletic director David Brandon has an ace up his sleeve or Harbaugh changes his mind, Hoke is your guy.

    CHANCES: Odds-on favorite