The search for a new head coach of the Michigan Wolverines should get more interesting by Black Monday, when multiple NFL head and assistant coaches are expected to be fired, providing athletic director Jim Hackett with a new crop of potential replacements for Brady Hoke. San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is considered the favorite to win the job, but new candidates are expected to emerge in case he decides to stay in the NFL.
Sources told Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports that some of the head coaches on Hackett’s radar include New Orleans Saints’ Sean Payton, Buffalo Bills’ Doug Marrone, Dallas Cowboys’ Jason Garrett, as well as Baltimore Ravens’ John Harbaugh, Jim Harbaugh’s brother.
Other than Jim Harbaugh, there may be little chance that any of the aforementioned coaches will end up in Ann Arbor. The Ravens, who have a decent shot of earning an AFC wild-card berth, are not expected to fire John Harbaugh, and he has not given any indication he would leave the team he helped lead to a Super Bowl in 2012.
The Dallas Cowboys have won the NFC East division for the first time since 2009, meaning Garrett is a long shot to be fired by owner Jerry Jones. Marrone, who was hired by the Bills in 2013, laughed off the suggestion he is linked to the Michigan vacancy, saying he has “nothing to do with that job.” Despite the Saints’ struggles in 2014, Payton is considered a lock to keep his job.
The last time an NFL head coach made the direct move to the college ranks was in 2007. Nick Saban left the Miami Dolphins to return to the SEC with the Alabama Crimson Tide, Bobby Petrino resigned from the Atlanta Falcons to take the Arkansas Razorbacks job, and Lane Kiffin accepted the Tennessee Volunteers job after coaching the Oakland Raiders.
Hackett may want to cast a wide net to keep his options open should Michigan miss out on Jim Harbaugh, though a deal is looking more likely. Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen is considered a hot commodity, but there is already talk of the school working on a contract extension to keep him in Starkville.
There are many assistant coaches who have yet to receive much mention and might deserve Hackett’s consideration. Dave Hogg of FOX Sports Detroit floated the idea of Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi, who recently interviewed for the University of Pittsburgh job. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Scott Loeffler would be well acquainted with the Michigan program after playing quarterback for the Wolverines and serving as an assistant under Lloyd Carr. Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is thought to be on his way out of New Orleans, and after decades as an assistant has probably earned a chance to be a head coach.