Michigan’s season has been awful. With that, the university may make the decision to move on from Jim Harbaugh. If they do make that decision, here are five potential head coach candidates for the Michigan Wolverines.
5. Clark Lea
Lea is the current defensive coordinator for Notre Dame. He has helped orchestrate the Notre Dame defense into a solid unit that allows just 16.7 points per game. The Fighting Irish are in contention for a CFP spot and a lot of credit needs to go to Lea.
Michigan will probably want an established coach, but if they want a defensive coordinator to be their next head coach, Lea is a solid option. Not only has he coached well for Notre Dame, but he also has built national recruiting ties, which is important for a job like Michigan. Lea may have a job very soon, as his alma mater, Vanderbilt, is looking for a new head coach.
4. Tom Allen
If Michigan is looking for a proven Big Ten coach, Allen is an option. He has turned around the Indiana Hoosiers in a short amount of time. Allen went 5-7 in his first two years with the team. Last season, Indiana won eight games. This season, Indiana only has one-loss, which came at the hands of Ohio State.
Allen knows how to take a team to new heights and how to coach in the Big Ten. He knows how to recruit the midwest. The biggest question is whether Michigan sees Allen as a Michigan man and if they do, they would have to pry Allen from his home state.
3. Luke Fickell
Could Ohio State be the alma mater of the next Michigan coach? Fickell was a defensive coordinator and player for the Buckeyes before taking the job at Cincinnati. His first season with the Bearcats, Fickell went 4-8, but now has reeled off three impressive seasons in a row. This year, the Bearcats are currently undefeated, in large part thanks to their great defense.
Fickell recruits in the same areas as Michigan, as he has built up recruiting ties at both Ohio State and Cincinnati. He specifically is great at getting the most out of his defenses, but Cincinnati’s offense has some talent as well. Fickell would have to accept the fact that he would be working for his one-time rival, but he is a good hire that deserves recognition.
2. Matt Campbell
Matt Campbell has been successful everywhere he goes. He immediately did well with Toledo and posted a 35-15 record with the school. Campbell then took over at Iowa State and took them from three wins in his first season at the school to now competing for Big 12 Championships. The change won’t come overnight, but Campbell does turn around programs decently quickly.
The encouraging thing for his fit at Michigan would be that Campbell grew up in Ohio, but has never worked for Ohio State. He has the recruiting connections in the midwest and now in Big 12 country as well. If Michigan wants someone who has turned around two programs and has done it at a school with the limited resources of Iowa State, Campbell should be their hire.
1. P.J. Fleck
A couple years ago P.J. Fleck was one of the hottest names on the coaching market, but Minnesota was one of the best job openings. After turning Western Michigan into a team that made a New Year’s Six Bowl game, he has done big things at Minnesota. Last season, the Golden Gophers won 11 games, including the Outback Bowl over Auburn. This season has not gone as planned, but a lot of key players were lost from last year’s team. With more time, Fleck could build Minnesota back up.
Fleck already has experience turning around one Big Ten team and with the resources of Michigan, he could do wonders. He also knows the midwest and how to recruit. If Michigan ends up firing Harbaugh, Fleck would be the safest pick to lead the Wolverines into the future.
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