Multiple sources with knowledge of a Thursday meeting between the Michigan football team and Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett reported to GoBlueWolverine on the condition of anonymity that the players were told the search for a new coach had been narrowed to four candidates.
When reached for comment Thursday evening and again Friday morning, Michigan Associate Athletic Director in charge of Media and Public Relations Dave Ablauf indicated those accounts were an overstatement. While four candidates have moved to the top of the list, Michigan hasn’t yet narrowed its list exclusively to those four.
“Our process is moving along,” Ablauf said later in a statement. “We have received inquiries and identified many candidates. The search firm Korn Ferry is screening possible candidates as we begin to narrow the search.”
Korn Ferry will be paid a minimum of $80,000 and a maximum of $250,000 for its services.
Hackett did not share with the team who his four frontrunners are, and remained similarly mum in the statement released this morning.
“As Jim Hackett stated during his press conference, we don’t believe that it’s appropriate to comment on any potential candidates or the institutions or organizations they currently may be employed by during this search,” said Ablauf. “We hope that you understand that we can’t compromise the integrity of our search process by commenting prematurely.”
No official acknowledgement of the candidacy of San Francisco 49ers headman Jim Harbaugh has been made to date, but the likelihood that he is Michigan’s number one target is extremely high. Based on the contact earlier this week with the agent for LSU coach Les Miles, it stands to reason that he too sits in Wolverines’ top group of desired targets. The remaining two coaches in the quartet require much more guesswork though. A number of names of interest have been mentioned in recent weeks, but those creating the strongest buzz have been UCLA’s Jim Mora, Boston College's Steve Addazio, and New Orleans Saints headman Sean Payton. Any one of those could be among the newly highlighted targets.
To date there has been no confirmation of formal contact with any of the aforementioned targets (other than Miles’ agent), nor has there been public acknowledgement of mutual interest.
Stay tuned to GoBlueWolverine for more on Michigan’s coaching search in the hours and days to come. And be sure to check our Coaching Search Rumor Board.