The Jim Harbaugh suspension saga has hopefully found its conclusion. On Monday, the program announced they would be self-imposing a three-game suspension for their head coach.
All accounts point to Michigan now needing an interim head coach for the first three games of the season. All of those games will take place at home as the Wolverines take on East Carolina, UNLV, and Bowling Green. Who should be calling the plays? We’ll take a look at the Wolverines’ options.
Michigan fans should feel extremely confident if Moore is the one tasked with running a game. He’s had his hand in the offensive play calling for the last two seasons, helping both J.J. McCarthy and Cade McNamara lead this team to a College Football Playoff appearance. This year will be his first as the stand-alone offensive coordinator.
Moore has been with the program since 2018 when he started as the tight ends coach. After three seasons, he moved to offensive line and co-offensive coordinator with former quarterbacks coach Matt Weiss in 2021 and 2022.
Now entering his sixth year with the program, Moore has become one of the most well-respected assistant coaches in college football. Not only has he developed an offensive line that has won consecutive Joe Moore Awards, but he has also been one of the premier recruiters in college football. He’s been sighted by many outlets as a top head coaching prospect for the 2024 carousel, so these three games would be a chance for him to show off his abilities.
We move to the other side with defensive coordinator Jesse Minter. Minter stepped into the defensive coordinator role last season after holding the same position at Vanderbilt in 2021. He was tasked with replenishing a defense that lost three top-50 NFL Draft picks including both Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, two of the most productive players in the history of Michigan football.
In 2022, the Michigan defense didn’t miss a beat without them. They were a Top-5 unit in college football for the majority of the season, going 12-0 in the regular season. Most notably, the Wolverines shut down an Ohio State offense that was one of the best in the country in 2022.
Either way, Minter is going to have his defense ready in the first three weeks and he may just find himself leading the charge for the first three games depending on how this all shakes out.
Another hot name for a future head coach is running game coordinator Mike Hart. Hart obviously knows ball, he dominated as a player for the maize and blue and could get his chance to be a fill-in head coach in Harbaugh’s stead.
It’s no secret that the Wolverines have been uber-successful in moving the ball on the ground, especially against inferior opponents. Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards are the two best-skill position players on this team, and they have the best offensive line in all of college football in front of them.
It would make a lot of sense for Hart to be the interim head coach if the idea is that Michigan will keep things simple. That’s what they did for the most part in non-conference play last season. It shouldn’t be challenging to run the football early and often for the first couple of weeks against the teams that are on the schedule.
If Harbaugh would like to keep Minter and Moore in their normal duties, it would make sense for Hart to be the guy at the helm.
A dark-horse candidate for the job is Ron Bellamy. He led West Bloomfield, one of the most successful high school programs in Michigan, for eleven seasons before coming to Ann Arbor.
Since he has been at Michigan, Bellamy has coached on both sides of the ball, as the safeties coach in 2021 and wide receivers for the last two seasons. It’s evident that Harbaugh trusts his expertise in a multitude of areas, and it could make sense to hand the interim role to him because of his game-managing and head coaching experience.
He’s also a guy that leaders on this team are going to respect. Both Donovan Edwards and Makari Paige played under Bellamy in their high school days, and both will be on the field a lot this season. If he’s looking for a guy with experience, Bellamy could answer the call.