Top 5 Candidates To Replace Jim Harbaugh as Michigan Head Coach

The hottest name this offseason, Jim Harbaugh is headed back to the NFL. Which head coach candidates make the most sense to replace him at Michigan?

The hottest name in each of the past three college football offseasons hasn’t been a player. It’s been Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh. The will-he, won’t-he saga of whether or not he’ll jump ship back to the NFL is a never-ending drama written by scriptwriters and just waiting to unfold in front of our eyes.

With the news from ESPN’s Adam Schefter all but confirming Harbaugh’s exit to the Los Angeles Chargers, what’s next for Michigan?

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Michigan Head Coach Candidates

The Harbaugh saga saw the defending National Champion head coach linked to multiple NFL head coach openings before ultimately settling on the Chargers. As he returns to the state of California to coach an NFL franchise once again, Michigan must start over at the top.

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It’s important to once again note that rumors of Harbaugh using the NFL as leverage could have slowly started to wear on even the most passionate of Michigan fans, even if Harbaugh did just deliver a National Championship to Ann Arbor. Maize and Blue runs deep, and you can certainly guarantee the will-he, won’t-he song and dance wouldn’t stand for long.

With Harbaugh’s time in Ann Arbor seemingly over, who should they turn to next?

Sherrone Moore, Michigan Offensive Coordinator

This is not only the path of least resistance, it’s also the most common-sense decision the Michigan Athletics Department can make with Harbaugh gone. Sherrone Moore not only has head coaching experience with this program and its current roster, but he’s likely to jettison Ann Arbor if Harbaugh leaves and he doesn’t receive the job.

Moore is a leader of men and a darn good one at that. He’s also proven to be an offensive guru and not scared to make the necessary adjustments on the fly to win games at hand. Moore is smart, talented, and a great recruiter to boot. He’ll be a head coach soon, it’s just a matter of whether that’s with Michigan or elsewhere.

Jesse Minter, Michigan Defensive Coordinator

Say Moore isn’t the guy for the job or that he intends to one day coach in the NFL. It could be safe to assume the highly-regarded Wolverines OC could follow Harbaugh to the NFL, and that would make that happen. So, that opens the door for other candidates.

The next best option is absolutely another in-house promotion. Jesse Minter’s defense has proven its worth time and time again during his time in Ann Arbor, and it’s likely he’ll be rewarded with control of a program soon as well.

The name of the game in the Big Ten is defense, and Minter could lead the Wolverines into the future with his terrific mix of coaching, development, and recruiting.

Jamey Chadwell, Liberty Head Coach

The first outside hire that comes up is absolutely Jamey Chadwell. While he’s been linked with multiple Power Five vacancies during the 2024 coaching carousel, none have seemingly fit the bill to pull him away from the Liberty Flames. Michigan, however, could finally be that big-time program that plucks Chadwell from Lynchburg.

Chadwell’s offenses are items of college football folklore, and he’d bring a wrinkle to the Big Ten that defensive coordinators have yet to see. He has also been an incredible recruiter and works the transfer portal just as effectively.

Eli Drinkwitz, Missouri Head Coach

Few have done more with NIL than Eli Drinkwitz since the inception of Name, Image, Likeness in college athletics. Drinkwitz powers his Missouri Tigers teams with a ridiculous array of high-profile players, indicating his prowess in the recruiting world.

Michigan fans would absolutely fall in love with Drinkwitz’s ability to recruit top-tier talent and keep said talent in the building just as much as they’d grow to love the staff he’s built and would likely put in place in Ann Arbor.

Making matters even more in favor of Drinkwitz, his Missouri roster just reached its peak and he’s staring down an uphill battle of roster reconstruction as spring ball approaches in the ‘Zoo.

Lance Leipold, Kansas Head Coach

A proven winner and builder of a program, Lance Leipold makes all too much sense on the surface but would likely be a far-fetched answer if Harbaugh were to leave.

Leipold has ties to the northern states and would fit right in with his culture and developmental strategies.

However, Leipold has seemingly been on the open market for college football blue bloods (as has Kansas State’s Chris Klieman), and he’s seemingly chosen to stay in the state of Kansas all the same.

Michigan’s offer would certainly be intriguing to Leipold. It could be a big enough program to pull him from the Jayhawks, but like Klieman, he seems content to continually call Kansas home.

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