Posted by Tom Fornelli
Now that the news is official, and Rich Rodriguez has been fired at Michigan, the process of finding a replacement is underway in Ann Arbor. If we're to take Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon's words at his press conference on Wednesday to heart, it doesn't sound like a replacement will be announced quickly. In fact, Brandon made it sound like he hasn't even begun the process yet, which, if true, doesn't bode well for Michigan in 2011.
Still, if he hasn't begun the search yet, here are a few names that will likely be hearing from Michigan in the coming days.
Jim Harbaugh - Actually, from what Brandon said, I'm pretty sure Harbaugh has already heard from Michigan. Brandon may say he hasn't begun the process but reading between the lines, it sounds like Michigan has contacted Harbaugh and that Harbaugh has told the school he's not interested. Which is why Brandon didn't seem to have any problems addressing Harbaugh-related questions and even say that he feels Harbaugh is headed to the NFL. Still, until an official announcement is made by Harbaugh, a portion of the Michigan faithful will hold out hope.
Brady Hoke - Hoke's name has come up as a possible replacement, and he's made it known that Michigan is his dream job and he'd have no problem leaving San Diego State for the job. Still, even though Hoke has been successful at Ball State and with the Aztecs, I don't think that's enough to make him Michigan's top choice. Odds are the school will take a stab at some bigger names with Hoke as a backup plan.
Les Miles - Before Michigan hired Rodriguez, rumor was that Miles was one of the school's top choices to replace Lloyd Carr. Miles stayed at LSU, but it's possible that Michigan could make a run at their former offensive lineman once more. The question is whether or not Miles would want to leave his nice contract at LSU to take the job, or whether Michigan would be comfortable bringing him home.
Chris Petersen - Any athletic director at a BCS conference school who is looking for a head coach that doesn't call Boise State's Petersen isn't doing his job. Petersen's done a remarkable job at Boise State, helping keep a tiny commuter school in Idaho a power on the national scene. If he could do that at Boise State, imagine what he might be able to do with the resources available to him at Michigan.
Gary Patterson - During his press conference, Dave Brandon pointed out that whoever he brings in to replace Rodriguez, an emphasis will be placed on defense. That doesn't necessarily mean it'll be a defensive-minded head coach, but if Brandon wants a strong defense at Michigan, he could do a lot worse than TCU's Patterson. The question here is whether or not Patterson would want to make the transition north, or if he has a need to. After all, TCU will be joining the Big East in 2012, so if Patterson wants to coach in a BCS conference, he no longer has to leave the school.
Mike Leach - I don't think Brandon has any interest in Mike Leach, but I'll bet Leach has interest in Michigan. Hell, he has interest in every school.
Kyle Whittingham - Whittingham hasn't had any trouble maintaining what Urban Meyer started at Utah, and could bring that success to Ann Arbor. Of course, considering that Whittingham has been at Utah for 16 years, it doesn't seem as though he's in a hurry to leave the place. Plus, like Gary Patterson, he's now running a program that is bound for a BCS conference, so the motivation to leave isn't as strong as it may have been.
Urban Meyer - Speaking of Meyer, how about Urban Meyer? Do I think this would happen? No, I believe Meyer was serious when saying he wants some time off. Still, you know it's only a matter of time before somebody throws his name out there, so I may as well.