Les Miles (LSU Coach)
“The Mad hatter” fielded a consistent winner first at Oklahoma State and now at LSU. A former player and coach under Bo Schembechler and clearly has modeled his coaching style after him. He employs a pro-style offense so an overhaul of the roster wouldn’t be necessary. Lastly he remains very popular is various former player and alumni circles.
Age is a hindrance as Miles will turn 61 years old next week. He has been on the receiving end of criticism on the recruiting trail, most notably for an over-signing incident that saw him eliminate three players. One of those players was a freshman that had been on campus for two months. While he still has support in Michigan circles, he has many more detractors than Harbaugh. Lastly his offenses have been criticized for being painfully anemic and/or predictable at times, though things have improved considerably since he brought on former Michigan (and NFL) assistant Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator last year.
Miles might be the coach at Michigan now had word of his alma mater’s back channel courtship in 2007 not been embellished while he was in the midst of preparing the Tigers for a national championship. His candidacy was less viable after Rodriguez was fired back in 2010, and it is probably lesser now due in large part to his age. Still his Michigan roots make him one to watch.
John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens Coach)
The other Harbaugh is the one with the Super Bowl ring, and he beat his more popular brother to get it. After years as a special teams coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, Baltimore gave him a shot to run the show back in 2008. Since then he has grown into one of the most respected coaches in the NFL. He is revered as “a player’s coach” and is said to be one of the more personable guys in his profession.
Harbaugh spent his teenage years in Ann Arbor while his dad was an assistant at the University of Michigan and he played his high school football right across the street from Michigan Stadium at Pioneer high.
Current Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison held the same job during the final two years of a three year stint with the Ravens from 2008-2010. The two also coached together in the mid-eighties at Western Michigan under Jack Harbaugh. Brady Hoke and Michigan tight ends and special teams coach Dan Ferrigno were also on that staff.
Harbaugh hasn’t coached on the college level in almost 20 years (Indiana in 1997 as the special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach).
ESPN reported that Harbaugh disagreed behind the scenes with management about its handling of Ray Rice in the early aftermath of the All Pro running back’s assault on his wife. Harbaugh publicly denied the report, however, and whether true or not there seem to be no long term effects. His situation with the Ravens brass is different from his brother’s in San Francisco in that there is virtually no talk of John Harbaugh not finishing out a contract that runs through 2017. One also must wonder if Harbaugh would consider replacing a former colleague even if he was interested in returning to the college ranks.
Schiano turned lowly Rutgers into a consistent winner during his time there from 2001-2011. He recruited well and has tentacles in Florida and throughout the east coast. He and was reportedly offered the Michigan job back in 2007 before ultimately turning it down to stay in Piscataway. He has considerable NFL coaching experience on his resume and his teams feature pro-style offenses. That means Michigan wouldn’t need to overhaul its roster if Schiano was tabbed.
Schiano is another coach known for having a grating personality. That contributed to his failed two-year stint (2012-2013) as the headman for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Some pundits also question his ability as a big game coach.
Word is Schiano’s name is still respected in Ann Arbor, his style of play wouldn’t be a major deviation from the current norm, and he built RUTGERS into a respectable program. That said he has no direct ties to the state of Michigan or the program, he was unsuccessful in his most recent coaching job, his biggest success as a college coach coincides with the presence of Ray Rice, and he has been criticized for being abrasive. He is a respected coach, but he wouldn’t generate nearly the excitement that some of the other candidates on this list would.
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