Plan B: If Not Jim Harbaugh, Then Who?

One thing is very obvious in the Michigan coaching search: Jim Harbaugh is the #1 target for everyone involved, including AD Jim Hackett and the majority of the fan base and alumni. That\’s a given. However, there is a very realistic chance that he turns down his alma mater to go after that coveted Lombardi trophy.

So, if Harbaugh says \”no thanks\”, who will Michigan turn to to take over and turn around the historic program?

Here are my Plan B options:

1. John Harbaugh

The older brother of Jim Harbaugh and Super Bowl winning head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, John Harbaugh, was rumored to be the favorite for the job, even over his brother. However, that clearly isn\’t the case anymore but, IMO, John would be a home run hire just like his brother. He is a hard nosed, proven winner with plenty of ties to the program and has the personality that would do wonders on the recruiting trail. I doubt he\’d leave Baltimore, but if Jim tells Michigan no, John would be the next person on my call list.

2. Sean Payton

Staying in the NFL, there have been a couple different people saying that the Super Bowl winning head coach of the New Orleans Saints, Sean Payton, is a legit candidate to take over the Wolverines program. SI contributor Ben Estes tweeted that \”one well-known head coach believes Michigan is going to hire Sean Payton\”. If this is true, that would be huge. Payton is a known fan of the program and is one of the best offensive minds in football. It would take a lot but he would definitely be on my Plan B call list.

3. Les Miles

If Michigan is going to go with a college coach, Les Miles would be my first call. Is he a bit older? Yes, but he has the energy to coach another 7-10 years and a return to his alma mater would definitely re-energize the former Michigan lineman and GA. People question Miles\’ actions from time to time but no one can question his ability to coach football. He\’s consistently won in the toughest conference, has produced a ton of NFL draft picks and blew out OSU to win a National Championship in 2007. Now, there are rumors that say Miles is not interested in Michigan because of his family\’s roots in Louisiana. However, if Hackett (his former teammate) put on the full court press, I doubt he could turn them down.

4. Bob Stoops

Another name that has been floated out there is the National Championship winning head coach at Oklahoma, Bob Stoops. After a tough loss to Oklahoma State in the season finale, the Stoops to Michigan rumors started to really heat up. There are sources saying he\’d be interested and others saying he wouldn\’t be interested. Either way, a call wouldn\’t hurt. Stoops is one of the best coaches in college football and would be a \”non-Michigan man\” option that could bring a new feel to the program.

5. Jim Mora Jr

Possibly the name that is the most interested in the job, former Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks head coach and current UCLA head coach Jim Mora Jr. Several different reports have come out that says Mora Jr is not only interested in the job but that he has had his agent, Jimmy Sexton, reach out to Michigan to let him know he \”would accept the Michigan job on the spot if offered\”. If that is the case, and his agent isn\’t just looking for an extension, it would be a good move for Hackett to reach out to him if the rest of the top guys turn down the opportunity.

The main guy still is and will be Jim Harbaugh until a definitive \”no\” is given to Hackett. While just about every NFL insider is saying that is the case, every local insider is saying the opposite. But if Jason La Canfora, Ian Rapaport and Adam Schefter are right, I believe any of the options on this Plan B list would be very successful in the Maize and Blue.

So, sit back and enjoy the wild ride that is the Michigan coaching search rumors.

Garrett Fishaw