No good deed goes unpunished and no success is exempt from the success tax. In the world of college football, success is translated thusly: winning. And the tax – in addition to perpetual roster turnover — is coaching turnover.
No program is exempt from the tax, and it is one of the reasons that make Nick Saban’s run at Alabama so impressive. The Michigan Wolverines are no strangers to this tax. In 2021, defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald left for the NFL, and last season, one of the three most important voices in Schembechler Hall — Biff Poggi — left to become the head coach at Charlotte.
But with a roster and staff poised to make a run at the National Championship, that tax is poised to come down even harder than before in Ann Arbor. The college football capital gains tax. Even head coach Jim Harbaugh recognizes the coaching talent and inevitable tax coming his way.
“Every one of our assistant coaches will be a head coach,” Harbaugh said this summer. “And I would even say probably four (assistants could land head coaching jobs) after this season.”
Harbaugh didn’t provide the names for those four coaches, so assuming Michigan has another great season, here is my best guess in order of most likely to least likely.
Defensive coordinator Jesse Minter
Last offseason, Minter interviewed with the Philadelphia Eagles for the vacant defensive coordinator position. He did not get the job, but this shows ambition and a desire to rise up the coaching ladder.
Among the #Eagles defensive coordinator interviews to date: #Rams DBs coach/pass game coordinator Chris Shula and Michigan DC Jesse Minter, sources say. Shula and Nick Sirianni were together on the #Chargers’ coaching staff 2015-16.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 21, 2023
At age 40, Minter possesses the ideal mindset of youthful innovation and seasoned experience. If the Michigan defense is as dominant as they are projected to be in 2023, Minter could easily land a Power Five head coaching job looking for a defensive identity.
Run game coordinator/Running Backs coach Mike Hart
Mike Hart is ready to AT LEAST be an offensive coordinator at a Power Five program right now. He has been a position coach for more than a decade and is ready to take that next step. Keep an eye on Indiana this offseason. If the Hoosiers decided to move on from head coach Tom Allen, Hart — a former running backs coach and associate head coach in Bloomington — could be a top candidate.
Co-defensive coordinator/Defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale
Clink often flies under the national radar, but he probably prefers it this way. The best description for the understated Steve Clinkscale is a leader of men. He is an experienced defensive backs coach who is a player’s coach but still commands respect.
Always the adult in the room, Clink is a candidate for any job, but especially those that require a culture shift. While perhaps not quite ready to take on the Power Five, Clink could look to take over a Group of Five program in 2024. However, if Minter departs, Clinkscale could stay to run the defense solely and bolster his resume.
Offensive coordinator/Offensive line coach Sherrone Moore
I rank Sherrone Moore last because I believe he is the unofficial head coach-in-waiting at Michigan. If Harbaugh wants to return to the NFL and stop dealing with absurd cheeseburger-centric suspensions, a national championship is one hell of a swan song and middle finger to the NCAA.
If that happens, Moore is the perfect candidate to take over. It maintains continuity and familiarity, and eases the transition into a new era. A coach-to-coordinator transition hasn’t happened at Michigan since the 90s (Moeller to Carr) and that worked out great.
But if Harbaugh remains in Ann Arbor, Moore will be one of the most sought-after head coaching candidates in the country.