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Five questions we have about Sherrone Moore becoming head coach

Everyone knew that Moore would be the next man up

2024 CFP National Championship - Michigan v Washington Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images
Daniel Plocher Dan Plocher contributes to Maize n’ Brew in several areas including podcasts, game previews/recaps, and various YouTube videos.

As soon as Jim Harbaugh decided to leave Ann Arbor for the sunny skies of Southern California, everyone pointed the finger at Sherrone Moore to be the next head coach for the Michigan Wolverines. It took less than 48 hours to officially announce the decision and the thought process among most fans was pretty unanimous — he’s ready to take the next step.

He was 4-0 as acting head coach for the Wolverines in the 2023 championship season. Two of those wins were over Penn State and Ohio State — the most important games of the regular season.

There is plenty to love about Moore becoming the head coach, but there are still things we need to know about what’s next for Michigan. Here are the five questions we have about Moore stepping in for Harbaugh

1) How much of this staff will be retained and who will be promoted?

This is the question everyone wants to know. When Moore was announced as head coach on Friday, most of the staff commented on social media about how pleased they were about the news. That’s clearly a great sign for what is to come.

Moore also said he wants to keep as much of the current staff intact as possible — a smart move given the national championship they brought to Ann Arbor. That will also be key for keeping this current roster, as new faces won’t be coming in impacting who is leading the players.

At his introductory press conference, Moore also touched on wanting to keep Ben Herbert, the team’s strength and conditioning coach. Harbaugh endlessly praised Herbert and what he got out of the players year-round, so retaining him may be the top priority for Moore.

Moore will also have to hire a linebackers coach, and very possibly a defensive coordinator as well. It isn’t official yet, but word on the street is Jesse Minter is off to Los Angeles to become Harbaugh’s defensive coordinator with the Chargers. Moore will certainly have his hands full in this area of head coaching for the next little bit.

2) Was the success in 2023 more about the team or Moore?

As soon as Moore’s hiring was announced, this was the first question that came to my mind. Moore will be a first-time head coach and leading the reigning national champions in 2024, which will look much different than the team we just saw win it all.

As much credit as Moore deserves for leading the team to wins over Penn State and Ohio State, that team had the mentality it would be national champs. Several players returned for that sole purpose.

Without most of those leaders and the immense amount of talent that is out the door, how will this team respond when adversity hits? It will be very interesting if Moore can continue to keep the mentality and culture the 2023 team had into next season and beyond.

3) How will this impact recruiting?

This is a bit of a double-edged sword in terms of recruiting. We’ll start with the positives: Moore has been the lead recruiter for so many of the Wolverines’ current targets and former great players, he’s constantly been named one of the best recruiters in college football, and he likely won’t have attention every season from the NFL. We could see a nice uptick in recruiting top talent to Ann Arbor.

But Moore is not Jim Harbaugh. Part of the allure of playing at the University of Michigan is playing for a head coach who has done nothing but produce talent for the NFL and even coach in a Super Bowl. Harbaugh also stood his ground when talking about paying players and shaping college football in a more equitable direction players. He was a proven talent, a sure thing, and if this team struggles with its extremely competitive schedule in 2024, are players going to be dashing away from a first-year head coach?

The players currently committed to Michigan anticipated (somewhat) that Harbaugh would be their head coach. Several have already reaffirmed their commitment, but many have also not. Time will tell if there is any attrition from the incoming freshmen group.

4) Can this team select and develop a quarterback without Harbaugh?

This ties me into my next point, and that is recruiting and developing the right quarterback. Harbaugh finished his career hitting on two (arguably three) of them. Cade McNamara and J.J. McCarthy were stars in their own right (and some will argue Shea Patterson).

I don’t believe Michigan turns into a College Football Playoff team in 2021 without the leadership of McNamara. Then, they certainly don’t win a national title without McCarthy. Harbaugh developed these two into champions and assisted in making them the leaders they became.

Moore wants to play smash-mouth football, and while he has been incredible at generating top offensive lines, and running backs partially because of the line, will he be able to do the same at quarterback?

True freshman Jadyn Davis and 2025 four-star quarterback Carter Smith were chosen with at least some influence from Harbaugh. Assuming both stay committed, what happens after that? It’s the most important position on the field and Michigan is going to need to continue to see success there to continue this run they have been on.

5) Will the program embrace NIL as much as Moore wants?

Harbaugh was adamant about empowering players, going as far as saying they should start being paid directly instead of through NIL. It felt like the university and athletic department were always a little bit behind comparatively.

Part of that was because they wanted to ensure things were being done the correct way when there was never (and still isn’t) a clear guide into what is legal in these proceedings. Still, there is a touch more clarity with the advancement of NIL collectives that have been assisting athletes for the last few years.

More encouragement from the university is necessary to help these collectives grow, and Moore appears to be pushing for more emphasis on this already.

“(NIL has) just become a big thing of college football,” Moore said in his introductory press conference. “It’s a part of what we do and how we have to operate. Times have changed and we have to continue to evolve, and we will... I think we’re gonna definitely attack (NIL). We’ve already started doing that, so we’ll definitely have conversations on how we’ll go about it.”

As college football programs continue to slip checks under the table to the most sought-after players in the country, Michigan has fallen a bit behind. Expectations for this team to be great will continue with Moore, and many will not expect much to change without Harbaugh. Nailing NIL could assist with the gap Harbaugh has left with recruiting, as the program attempts to extend their impressive run.