Michigan Wolverines: 5 Candidates to Replace Rich Rodriguez

Sal DeRose@@TheSalDeRoseCorrespondent IJanuary 9, 2011

Michigan Wolverines: 5 Candidates to Replace Rich Rodriguez

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 06:  Head coach Les Miles of the Louisiana State University Tigers watches pregame before playing the Alabama Crimson Tide  at Tiger Stadium on November 6, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    After firing Rich Rodriguez, the rumors have been swirling around the University of Michigan's football program.

    Who will replace Rich Rod?

    What system will the new coach bring in?

    Will Denard Robinson transfer?

    It has ALL been discussed. No one is in a safe zone now at Michigan. Everything is in question.

    But, as for the coach, here are the five top candidates who should get the job at Michigan.

1. Les Miles

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 20:  Head coach Les Miles of the Louisiana State University Tigers celebrates after their 43-36 win over the Ole Miss Rebels at Tiger Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    It seems no matter what happens, Les Miles' name will be tossed around three times as much as anyone else.

    It's no question, Michigan wants Les Miles so much. They have already begun to inquire about him and are looking to set a meeting up with him.

    Before Rich Rodriguez was hired, Les Miles was a prime candidate. If they don't get Les Miles now, the next time they have an opening at head coach, his name will be tossed around again.

    They want a "Michigan Man," and who better than Les Miles?

    Coaching Resume

    1974-1975 Offensive Lineman at Michigan under Bo Schembechler

    Head Coach:

    Oklahoma State (2001-2004): 28-21 (16-16 in Big 12 play), 1-2 in bowl games

    LSU (2005-Present): 62-17 (32-15 in SEC play), 5-1 in bowl games

    1 National Title, 1 Conference Title

2. Pat Fitzgerald

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    EVANSTON, IL - OCTOBER 23: Head coach Pat Fitzgerald of the Northwestern Wildcats encourages his team takes on the Michigan State Spartans at Ryan Field on October 23, 2010 in Evanston, Illinois. Michigan State defeated Northwestern 35-27.  (Photo by Jona
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    I think Fitzgerald is a very impressive and intriguing prospect for head coach at Michigan. He has turned the Northwestern football program around and hasn't had a losing season since his first year at Northwestern.

    Since then, Fitzgerald is 30-21 with three bowl appearances for the Wildcats. It makes sense to hire him: He knows the Big Ten already and is a defensive-minded coach, two things that could prove big for the Michigan Wolverines.

    He isn't a "Michigan Man," but come on, at this point, is it really that big of a deal who rebuilds the program?

    Coaching Resume

    1993-1996 Linebacker at Northwestern

    1997 Dallas Cowboys

    Head Coach:

    Northwestern (2006-Present): 33-29 (18-22 in Big 10 play), 0-3 in bowl games

3. Bo Pelini

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    ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 04:  Head coach Bo Pelini of the Nebraska Cornhuskers leads his team against the Oklahoma Sooners at Cowboys Stadium on December 4, 2010 in Arlington, Texas. The Sooners beat the Cornhuskers 23-20.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty
    Tom Pennington/Getty Images

    Like Fitzgerald, Pelini is another intriguing candidate. Pelini and Nebraska will join the Big Ten soon, and Nebraska isn't that bad of a team.

    He actually has a good thing at Nebraska, but money talks. He helped Nebraska to a 9-4 record his first season as a Cornhusker, after taking over a team that was 5-7 the year before.

    Honestly, I don't see this really happening, but he should be a top target for the Wolverines. Pelini is an Ohio State alum; kind of kills the "Michigan Man" thought if he wins for the program, right?

    Coaching Resume

    1987-1990 Free Safety at Ohio State

    Head Coach:

    Nebraska Interim in 2003: Won Alamo Bowl

    Nebraska (2008-Present): 30-12 (17-7 in Big 12 Play), 2-1 in bowl games

4. Brady Hoke

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    SAN DIEGO - OCTOBER 17:  Head Coach Brady Hoke of San Diego State Aztecs watches his players as they play BYU Cougars at Qualcomm Stadium on October 17, 2009 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Jacob de Golish/Getty Images)
    Jacob de Golish/Getty Images

    If they didn't get Jim Harbaugh or Les Miles, this was the guy everybody said would be the next head coach in Ann Arbor.

    Hoke has done an exceptional job in his second season at San Diego State, leading them to a 9-4 record after going 4-8 in his first.

    He quickly left Ball State after leading them to a 12-1 record in 2008 and a GMAC Bowl invitation. His record doesn't exactly show "Michigan head coach" material, but hey, he coached in Ann Arbor from 1995-2002, so he knows what it takes and what is expected.

    Also, he is a defensive-minded coach, and the Wolverines need that more than anything else.

    Coaching Resume

    1977-1980 Linebacker at Ball State 

    Head Coach:

    Ball State (2003-2008): 34-38 (27-20 in MAC play), 0-1 in bowl games (Did not coach GMAC Bowl)

    San Diego State (2009-Present): 13-12 (7-9 in MWC play), 1-0 in bowl games

5. Dan Mullen

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    TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 13: Coach Dan Mullen of the Mississippi State Bulldogs directs play against the Alabama Crimson Tide November 13, 2010 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    This is the furthest long shot to become head coach at Michigan. There is slim to no chance Michigan gets Mullen in Ann Arbor, but he would be a great candidate to replace Rich Rod.

    Mullen has helped Mississippi State to a bowl game and a 9-4 record this season. His first recruiting class was ranked 25th by Rivals.com and 19th by Scout.com. He can flat-out recruit and could do so with the storied program that is the Michigan Wolverines. 

    He isn't a defensive-minded head coach, but he can definitely help out the Michigan defense that was so horribly ranked last season.

    Mullen is a great option but the amount of money is just too huge and the possibility is just too slim.

    Coaching Resume

    1992-1993 Tight End at Ursinus

    Head Coach:

    Mississippi State (2009-Present): 14-11 (7-9 in SEC play), 1-0 in bowl games