Michigan could have Jim Harbaugh's replacement already on campus in 'shining star' Sherrone Moore
Thu, Jan 25, 2024
NCAAF News (AP)
When Nick Saban retired at Alabama two weeks ago, the chain reaction it set off caused five more head coaching changes across major college football in a little more than a week.
Now Michigan, the winningest program in college football history and the defending national champion, is in the market for a coach after Jim Harbaugh decided Wednesday to go back to the NFL with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Michigan is the type of job that could set off another wave of moves, but the chances of that happening seem far less likely.
The Wolverines might very well have their man already on campus in offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore.
"We are working quickly to hire the next head coach for the program and will do everything possible to keep this current staff and team together," Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said in a telling statement.
With Harbaugh serving two separate suspensions this past season for potential NCAA rules violations, Michigan went 4-0 with Moore leading the team on game days. And those weren't just any games. Moore was in charge when Michigan won at Penn State and against Ohio State to win the Big Ten East.
"We've already seen it, right? You've already got a glimpse of the shining star that he is," Harbaugh said about Moore during the leadup to the national championship game against Washington earlier this month. "He's just phenomenal, so smart, works so hard at it."
The 37-year-old Moore has never been a head coach. He joined Harbaugh's staff in 2018 as tight ends coach on the recommendation of Dan Enos, who spent about six weeks after the 2017 season as a member of Harbaugh's staff before bouncing to Alabama for another gig.
Moore quickly won over Harbaugh.
"First time we sit down, we meet each other," Harbaugh recalled. "And then I asked him, just show me your technique of a zone block and a gap block for a tight end. And he jumped up and just started demonstrating and went through this teaching progression that was, boom, one, two, three, four, and memorable, learnable. But first time I met him I was blown away. Knocked my socks off."
In 2021, the year Michigan bounced back from a terrible pandemic-shortened season that almost cost Harbaugh his job, Moore was promoted to offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator.
Michigan's offensive line has been one of the best in the country since, the driving force behind a team that won three straight Big Ten titles and three games in a row against rival Ohio State.
Moore might seem to be the obvious choice, but Michigan - similar to Alabama - could tempt just about any coach in the country if it chooses to look outside.
For weeks while Kalen DeBoer led Washington to the national championship game and contract extension talks were tabled, there was speculation the South Dakota native would be an appealing possible replacement for Harbaugh. DeBoer, instead, became Saban's replacement at Alabama.
Jedd Fisch, who went from Arizona to Washington to replace DeBoer, might have been an interesting candidate for Michigan, too. Fisch worked for Harbaugh in 2015 and '16 and just pulled off a remarkable rebuild in three seasons at Arizona.
But those moves also showed why it might be best for Michigan to stay in-house. A coaching change triggers the opening of a 30-day transfer portal window for players at the school with the vacancy.
Alabama, Washington and Arizona have all had key players jump in the portal as new staffs scramble to hold together rosters at a time when it is difficult to find quality replacements.
Keeping Moore and other members of the current staff, such as running backs coach Mike Hart and tight ends coach Grant Newsome, both former Michigan players, could help the Wolverines retain a roster that features numerous key contributors to the national-title run like star cornerback Will Johnson and defensive tackles Kenneth Grant and Mason Graham.
Michigan has had success with in-house hires before. The program's last national championship team in 1997 was coached by Lloyd Carr, a longtime assistant in Ann Arbor under Bo Schembechler and Gary Moeller.
"So Sherrone Moore, shining star," Harbaugh said. "No doubt about it. It doesn't even matter what anybody says. It's what you do."
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football"