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Michigan has elevated offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore to replace Jim Harbaugh as the program's head coach following Harbaugh's departure for the Los Angeles Chargers, the school announced on Friday. Moore spent the past six seasons on the Wolverines' staff and served as Michigan's acting head coach for four games in 2023 amid a pair of Harbaugh suspensions.

"I have been preparing my entire coaching career for this opportunity and I can't think of a better place to be head coach than at the University of Michigan," Moore said in a statement. "We will do everything each day as a TEAM to continue the legacy of championship football that has been played at Michigan for the past 144 years. Our standards will not change. We will be a smart, tough, dependable, relentless, and enthusiastic championship-level team that loves football and plays with passion for the game, the winged helmet and each other. We will also continue to achieve excellence off the field, in the classroom and in our communities. I am excited to start working in this new role with our players, coaches and staff."

The move signals Michigan's desire for continuity amid an undesirably timed coaching transition. On the heels of the program's first national championship since 1997, the Wolverines are already dealing with the departures of several star players for the NFL Draft. Promoting Moore, a well-respected staff veteran and emotional leader, should give Michigan a chance to avoid an exodus of talent to the transfer portal as well.

According to the terms of the deal, Moore's five-year contract starts at $5.5 million and includes incentive bonuses for things like conference championships ($500,000) and College Football Playoff appearances. 

Moore emerged as a leading face and voice for the program in 2023 as he called the shots on the sideline in November during a three-game suspension for Harbaugh amid the program's sign-stealing scandal. In particular, his emotional on-field interview following the Wolverines' win over Penn State elevated Moore's national visibility.

"Sherrone has proven to be a great leader for our football program, especially the offensive line and players on the offensive side of the football," athletic director Warde Manuel said. "He is a dynamic, fierce and competitive individual who gets the best out of the players he mentors. The players love playing for him and being with him in the building every day."

Moore, 37, played on the offensive line for Oklahoma under Bob Stoops before beginning his coaching career under Steve Kragthorpe and Charlie Strong at Louisville from 2009-13. He's worked in the state of Michigan ever since. Moore was the tight ends coach at Central Michigan from 2014-17 before landing in the same role at Michigan in 2018. He earned the title of co-offensive coordinator in 2021 and took over as sole offensive coordinator in 2023. 

He's also been in charge of an elite offensive line over the past three seasons, leading Michigan to consecutive Joe Moore Awards in 2021 and 2022.

Moore's rare position

Moore finds himself in a rare position as Harbaugh is just the fourth coach since World War II not to return after winning a national championship. The good news is the three other coaches to succeed reigning national title winners over the past 50 years enjoyed success.

When Johnny Majors left Pitt for Tennessee after leading the Panthers to the 1976 national title, Jackie Sherrill stepped in and went 50-9-1 with four top-10 finishes over five seasons before catapulting onward to the Texas A&M job. Next was Jimmy Johnson, who replaced Howard Schnellenberger at Miami following the Hurricanes' 1983 national title. Johnson went 52-9 and won the 1987 national championship before leaving to become head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

The most recent and least successful example is Frank Solich, who replaced the legendary Tom Osborne at Nebraska after the Cornhuskers won the title in 1997. Solich posted a 58-19 mark in six seasons. His record was elite by Nebraska's current standards but short of the program's lofty expectations at the time. He was fired at the end of the 2003 season after a a 9-3 campaign.

Challenges ahead

The 2024 season was already shaping up to be somewhat of a rebuilding year for the Wolverines, even if Harbaugh had stayed. Part of that is due to an evolving roster, and part is due to a difficult schedule. Any way you look at it, Moore will have his work cut out for him as the Wolverines seek a fourth-straight Big Ten title.

Michigan hosts Texas in Week 2 next season in nonconference play. The Longhorns are the only College Football Playoff team from last season to return their head coach. They also bring back star quarterback Quinn Ewers and will pose a significant challenge in one of the marquee games on the 2024 schedule. Then, the Wolverines face a Big Ten slate that includes USC, Washington, Oregon and Ohio State as the conference receives an infusion of premier West Coast programs.

Michigan has 12 players in the top 215 of the 2024 CBS Sports NFL Draft prospect rankings, which illustrates just how much talent the program is losing from its title-winning team. Among them is quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who leaves behind an uncertain quarterback room. The future of that position is among several key issues Moore will have to address in the months ahead. 

Carousel conclusion 

Moore's promotion likely prevented another seismic wave of disruption to the coaching industry. Had the Wolverines pursued LSU coach Brian Kelly or Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz — both regarded by CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd as names to watch if Michigan passed over Moore — the carousel would likely have kicked into high gear once again.

When legendary Alabama coach Nick Saban retired earlier this month, five other Division I head coaching jobs (Washington, Arizona, San Jose State, South Alabama and Buffalo) opened amid the ripple effect. If Michigan had hired someone other than Moore, it could have set off a similar wave of dominoes, especially if the Wolverines had pulled a sitting SEC head coach like Kelly or Drinkwitz.