Rays of Light: Coaches That’d Do Great Job

In the first part of this week's chat with former Michigan All-American and current Big Ten Network studio analyst Marcus Ray, he gives the pros and cons of four targets that have been mentioned as possibilities to fill the coaching vacancy in Ann Arbor. Candid thoughts on Jim Harbaugh, Les Miles, Butch Jones, and Bret Bielema.

Sam Webb: A lot of names come up and I think you’ve already established what your criteria is.  You aren’t so much caught up in the name, but you want a coach to come in here, understand the values that are necessary to be the coach at Michigan and then put great coaches around him.  Let’s get your thoughts on some names now that the job is open starting off first with Jim Harbaugh, the pros and the cons?

Marcus Ray:  “The pros with Jim Harbaugh is, I think his pedigree, his passion for Michigan, he can definitely coach.  He definitely would develop a quarterback.  I just did not see him enough at the college level to believe that he can come in and turn it around right away, being that he went 4-8, 5-7, 8-5 and then 12-1.  That is a sign of improvement out there in the PAC-12 and then he made the jump to the NFL.  If he would commit to a long term deal and got compensated appropriately, I think Jim Harbaugh would do an excellent job.  I think he could get you 10 wins.  I think the team will play tough, he’ll run the ball and play defense, just like the other teams that win in this conference do.  I think the drawback is, I think Jim will come and demand power from the athletic administration and say let me close my door and do it my way and you all stay out of here.  Something that Michigan has been trying to get away from for seven years.  We don’t know if Jim Harbaugh will go back to the NFL if he wins.  He is a competitor.  He wants to compete at the highest level and that’s what makes Jim Harbaugh, Jim Harbaugh.  I think his love for coaching is deeper than his love for Michigan.  It is not about if he can coach or not.  I’m sure he’ll bring in the right assistants and they’ll restore order, for how, long, we don’t know, for how many championships and how soon will it be, we don’t know.”

Sam Webb:  Les Miles?

Marcus Ray:  “I think Les Miles would come and he would bring an interesting personality to the coaching position.  He’s coaching would not be questioned, his pedigree, his resume.  He does have a national title on his resume.  He’s a little older.  Not really sure if his assistant coaches could adapt to the climate at Michigan depending on who he brings with him.  He would love to have his face on Michigan’s Mount Rushmore of coaches.   I think he has SEC ties that will recruit speed, something that is lacking at Michigan, something that is lacking in the Big Ten.  I think he would give Urban Meyer, Mark Dantonio and Gary Anderson all they could handle when it comes to running the ball.  One thing you know is that your offensive line will definitely be tough.  Les is an offensive line coach by trade.  I think Les would win a championship.”

Sam Webb:  What is the downside, did you give a downside?

Marcus Ray:  “I think the downside is his age, he’s a little older.  I think if he took the job and it didn’t work, I think he would almost be satisfied saying that I was the head coach at Michigan.  I’m not sure his assistants would be able to adapt to the climate.  Those guys that he’s been recruiting, they can get into LSU and I’m not sure his assistant coaches can go find players at the top level academically who are athletic.  I guarantee that half of LSU’s roster couldn’t get into Michigan (laughter).  So he’s going to have to get some guys that could do what Harbaugh did at Stanford, which was recruit guys that could who get into Michigan and play at a high level.  I guarantee that those guys down at LSU they are not academically as strong as the kids that get into Michigan.”

Sam Webb:  A  name that has gotten some buzz of late and you may not like personally.  When he was at Wisconsin, I could think of some things that his players did on the field in some games that was kind of shady, but Bret Bielema took Wisconsin to a different level.  If you look at his 6-6 record this year Marcus closely, you’re like wow, this guy is starting to do something at Arkansas, what about Bret Bielema?

Marcus Ray:  “I think Bret Bielema would get it done.  I think he would come in run the ball, play defense.  I don’t know if he’ll be able to recruit the type of talent that could compete on the national level, but Bret Bielema would outcoach 80% of the Big Ten just like he did when he was coaching.  You’re talking about three straight Big Ten Championships and then he’s down there in Arkansas with a team that is very scrappy.  They play defense.  They run the ball.  They really can’t throw it.  They are limited in certain areas, but Bret Bielema is an excellent Big Ten football coach with a proven resume.  People might not like him, some people call him a meathead, whatever that means.  I know that meathead can coach and run the ball and that’s something that Michigan football came from, was known for – running the football and playing defense.  All this spread happy stuff, get that out of here, it works in the warm climate, but let me tell you something Bret Bielema would win football games.  I know he would get to Indianapolis and get to the Rose Bowl, I don’t know if he would win a big time nonconference game and I don’t know if he would have NFL talent all over the field, but he would certainly coach and do a great job.”

To listen to the podcast in its entirety (including Ray's thorough breakdown of Butch Jones) press play below.

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