Bret Bielema, Arkansas – Bielema has rocketed up the intrigue list despite a subpar record. In a few moments you’ll understand why. But let’s start off talking about his background. Bielema is a Big Ten guy that played at Iowa and was the head coach at Wisconsin for seven years. All he did in Madison was take a program that Barry Alvarez put on the map and pole vault it to another level. He won 17 of his first 18 games as the Badgers headman. That included a 12-1 record in his first season, a feat that earned him Big Ten coach of the year honors. He went 9-4 the next season and then proceeded to win 10 or more games in three of his next five season at the helm. He achieved all of that success with a punishing smash mouth pro-style attack… the type of attack Michigan aspired to have under Brady Hoke. So Bielema would bring conference familiarity and a style conducive to the talent on the current roster. And if further evidence of his coaching acumen is needed, look deeper into his win/loss record at Arkansas. He has engineered rapid improvement in a program that had been derailed by the Bobby Petrino scandal. After going 3-9 in year one he went 6-6 this year. In 2014 Arkansas was the first team to ever play every conference game against an opponent ranked in the top 20 at the time the contest. Under those circumstances the Razorbacks acquitted themselves fairly well. Early in the season there were slim defeats in back to back weeks. In week five on the road versus #6 Texas A&M, Arkansas lost 35-28 in overtime. The next week the Beilema’s club fell suffered a 14-13 home loss to #7 Alabama. Then in the final four games of the season Arkansas showed even more promise going 2-2. Arkansas almost pulled off a week nine upset of #1 Mississippi State on the road, but fell 17-10. They returned home the next week and shutout #20 LSU 17-0. Arkansas took its game up a notch the next week, blowing out visiting #8 Ole Miss 30-0. Then they finished off the season with another narrow road loss to SEC West champ Missouri 21-14. Bielema’s stock is on the rise.
Jim Mora Jr., UCLA - They don’t call Jimmy Sexton “college football’s most powerful agent” for nothing. He gets his clients shots at the best jobs in country. Because of that don’t be surprised if he throws his clients’ hat in the ring with Michigan. Is it a possibility that such interest could be used as leverage for his clients to improve their current situations? Sure. But that’s a risk many schools would feel is worth taking for a name like Jim Mora Jr. Michigan might be especially willing considering the resource it could tap into former Wolverine offensive lineman Courtney Morgan. Morgan serves on Mora’s staff and might be able to shed some light on the Michigan’s chances should it come knocking. And why wouldn’t they? In Mora’s first season at UCLA he went 9-5, then 10-3, and this season he is 9-3. He has beaten arch-rival USC three straight years. He is an ace recruiter. He has extensive NFL experience as a head coach and assistant. His offensives are explosive. He coaches at an academic institution. Why would he consider Michigan? He’d be leaving a basketball school for a football school, Michigan’s facilities advantage is pronounced, and his recruiting reach would be even broader. Even so it would be tough to pull a native West-Coaster from a program that he has built into a PAC 12 power.
Bob Stoops, Oklahoma – After spending 16 years at a program that he resurrected and made a consistent national power and national champion, is 54-year old ready for a change of scenery? Might he want to return to the Midwest where he was born (Youngstown, Ohio) and played his college football (Iowa) expressed this season certainly makes it a question worth asking. And don’t be surprised if Michigan asked it.
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M – After going 7-5 this season Sumlin’s name isn’t as hot as it was last year at this time, but he still thought of as a brilliant offensive coach. He just needs a defensive coordinator that can bring his defense up to the offense’s level. Despite a declining record in each of his three seasons at A & M he may be content. On the other hand he may want to escape the most perilous gauntlet in the country (i.e. the SEC). There were rumors that Michigan showed interest in Sumlin during its search four years ago. Would he give Michigan an honest look? Maybe not. But it wouldn’t be surprising if the Wolverines asked. He too is represented by a super-agent in Trace Armstrong. Armstrong is agent who is used to dealing with Michigan and knows what personalities would appeal to it. It’s an appreciation he gained during while acting as the agent for Brady Hoke and Michigan offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.