Rays of Light: Talking Coaching Candidates

In part three of this week's sit-down with Former Michigan standout and Big Ten Network analyst Marcus Ray he shares his thoughts on potential Michigan coaching targets Jim Harbaugh, Butch Jones, and Les Miles. He also answers the tough question, would a new coach need to be a "Michigan Man?"

If you missed the first two parts of this week's podcast click the links below:

Sam Webb:  I’ll throw out a name and you just tell me what you think of that guy and what it might look like if that happened to be a guy from Michigan, if Michigan decided to make a change.  Starting with Jim Harbaugh.

Marcus Ray:  “I think if Jim Harbaugh was hypothetically was the coach he would be able to recruit guys that could get in the school first and foremost.  He will recruit guys that can play football and can get into school and survive academically.  That’s one of the bigger catches for me that he did out at Stanford.  He would play power football.  He’ll be able to run the ball.  He was winning in the PAC-12 because he had the toughest football team on the block.  He understands tough brand of football and what it does when you run the football and play defense.   All those PAC-12 schools and all the Rich Rod lovers, they’re playing basketball on grass.  They’re watered down.  They’re finesse teams and they get punched in the mouth sooner or later.  Harbaugh would bring I think one tight end, two tight end, play action, downhill, power, counter, all that kind of stuff… smash mouth football and recruit guys that fit his system.  He would have a defensive coordinator and he would play some defense.  That’s what he would bring.  That’s all that he took out to Stanford… Big Ten football out west and those California boys are soft and couldn’t handle it.  So that’s what Harbaugh would bring to the table.  I think he would bring a mentality of toughness, fight back.  Obviously he’ll be out front fighting for the team and instilling in those boys every day that this is Michigan and he will give you the old Bo Schembechler feel again, mixed in with a little bit of new school flair because he’s still young and he’ll have the locker room turned up with music.  It’ll be a good feeling.  So that’s what I think of Harbaugh.”

Sam Webb:  A guy that you know, Butch Jones?

Marcus Ray:  “Here’s the difference… and watch what I’m about to say… and I don’t care who likes it or who don’t.  Butch Jones can coach football.  He’s a flat out football coach and he can win in this conference.  If you bring in Harbaugh, I think Harbaugh can get you a Big Ten Championship.  I think Butch Jones could take you to the playoffs.  Not because he’s a better coach than Jim, just because I think the style of offense that Butch runs and the caliber of athlete that he’s going to bring in will give Michigan a chance to compete down in this playoff.  He has down south ties where he can recruit. Bring some of that NFL talent, not watered down four-star, five-star (guys that) don’t get developed. I’m talking about professional athletes.  I think he’ll go get them.  I think Harbaugh will fix the program to the point where they can compete with Ohio State and Michigan State and win a Big Ten Championship at 10-2 or something like that.  I really think Butch Jones… Michigan is a dream job for Butch.  I worked for him.  He looked me in my face and said I would work there and where Rich was the coach there.  Butch and I have an interesting relationship.  As a matter of fact, I told Butch, you know what, if Dan Gilbert and LeBron can get back together, then so can we (laughter).  Butch is a great football coach.  He’s young.”

Sam Webb:  But he does the “basketball on grass”, right?

Marcus Ray:  “Not really.  Basketball on grass is when you throw the ball every snap.  Butch Jones has a good blend of run and pass, like Ohio State.  They spread you out to run the ball.  They still play power football from a spread look.  They force you to defend their formation and it opens up run lanes.  The only thing stopping Butch Jones offensively down there, is he doesn’t have an athletic quarterback.  Like a Dan LeFevour, I was there with Dan LeFevour, the Antonio Browns… all those boys played in the pros.  Butch knows how to run a program.  He’s dying to get this job.  Butch might have been the hire if Brady didn’t get it four years ago.  Butch would have been right there.  He can flat out coach.  He has great assistants.  I’m telling you what I know.  It’s too hard to win the SEC East.  It is just a gauntlet that very few teams can run.  So why isn’t the Old Ball Coach (Steve Spurrier) winning the SEC East every year?  Why is Georgia a frontrunner and then they’ll get the ball ran 400 yards down their throat?  So it is too hard to win down there?  That’s why those teams want out.  Why do you think Urban Meyer left the south?  He was going to have to start cheating to survive or he was going to get his head cracked like the coach that is there now (Muschamp).  You’ve got to get out of the south if you want to survive and win.  Don’t be surprised if Nick Saban, if he gets his head cracked one more time and don’t make the playoff, we could bring his name up too.”

Sam Webb:  What about Les Miles?

Marcus Ray:  “I like Les.  He’s a cool guy.  I think he’s getting to the end of his tenure.  He is like the new Bobby Bowden, where he is getting a little long in the tooth.  He’ll show flashes of greatness.  I don’t know if Les wants to come to Michigan.  That’s another question.  I think we’ll see…it’ll take you longer to win with Les because he’s trying to run, I-formation, power football, recruit his guys, bring all that speed up there.  You’ve got to understand… you’re bringing a coach, he’s going to recruit different players than what Michigan has now.  Everybody gets caught up in…oh they offer the same kids.  Alabama offered, yeah in the 10th grade.  That’s a sucker move.  Some schools will just offer so you’ll take them.  It’s all smoke and mirrors.  I was in that business so I know how the offering game goes.  As soon as somebody offers you, everybody else offers you.  That doesn’t mean they really like you.  They just offered you, but they’ve got five other running backs in front of you that they like.  They may never call you again after they offer you and then now, everybody says, he got offered by Alabama.  Yeah okay, believe that if you want to.  Les Miles will bring some pros up here.  It’ll take a while to win and I don’t know if he will develop a quarterback, but I think they’ll play defense.  You’d better have a lot of night games, trying to recreate Death Valley at night if Les comes, because I think that has helped him out in his career just like last week.”

For a thorough breakdown of Brady Hoke’s chances to remain Michigan’s coach and the latest scuttlebutt on Jim Harbaugh, premium members can check out the latest Webblog - Dishing on Hoke’s Chances & Harbaugh Interest.

For much more from Ray including whether it’s necessary for a candidate to have “Michigan Man” on his resume to be accepted as coach, press play below.

The Michigan Insider Top Stories