The Michigan Wolverines finally returned to glory in 2021, winning their first Big Ten Conference title since 2004 and earning their first College Football Playoff. But with Him Harbaugh nearing an NFL return, a new Michigan coaching search could be imminent.
Everything came together for the Wolverines in 2021. Changes to the coaching staff led to a 12-win season, including a monumental victory over Ohio State. While the Wolverines lost in the CFP Semifinal, it served as a point that many thought would motivate this team heading into 2022.
Michigan is near the top of 2022 college football rankings, even with plenty of its talent headed to the NFL. It’s why Harbaugh departing his alma mater would be jolting for the program.
There is already some damage being done by Harbaugh dragging this out, leaving the Michigan Wolverines in flux. But if he ultimately bolts, it could lead to numerous transfers and decommitments. But hiring the right coach might lessen the blow.
- Michigan Wolverines record (Jim Harbaugh era): 61-24, 1-5 in bowl games
Let’s dive into five potential Michigan Wolverines coaching candidates.
Josh Gattis, Michigan Wolverines offensive coordinator
Josh Gattis is one of the most respected assistants in college football. He generated some buzz at Vanderbilt (2012-’13), serving as wide receivers coach and offensive recruiting coordinator. When James Franklin left the Commodores for Penn State, he didn’t leave without Gattis. After working as Penn State’s passing game coordinator and receivers coach (2014-’17), Gattis spent a year as Nick Saban’s co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach.
- Michigan Wolverines stats (offense): 35.9 ppg, 214.4 rushing ypg, 0.509 points per play (9th in FBS), 19.4 second-half ppg (3rd in FBS), 46.32% third-down conversion rate (10th in FBS)
After seeing the success both Penn State and Alabama’s receivers had with Gattis and his work coordinating offenses, Harbaugh brought him to Michigan. In his third year, with more stable quarterback play, Gattis won the Broyles Award and generated some coaching buzz.
If the Wolverines want to maintain continuity, Gattis is the hire. He’s earned a promotion and naming him head coach would also open the door for running backs coach Mike Hart to become offensive coordinator. If Harbaugh leaves, this process would ease concerns for the 2022 season.
Matt Campbell, Iowa State Cyclones head coach
If you’re going to lose one of the best coaches in college football, replace him with another. The Iowa State Cyclones are far from a powerhouse program, but Campbell turned this team into a consistent winner. Making $4 million in 2021, the Ohio native is a three-time Big 12 Coach of the Year and is ready for the jump to a marquee school.