As we learned yesterday, it's looking like Michigan football is going to be without its sometimes-polarizing but undeniably accomplished head coach, Jim Harbaugh, for the first four games of the 2023 college football season.
The four games, all of which are at home, seem like winnable games with or without Harbaugh. However, in pursuit of championships, all games must be taken seriously, especially the Big Ten opener against Rutgers. The Wolverines will need a leader for the first third of their regular season, so let's take a look at some of the options.
The most likely option has to be defensive coordinator Jesse Minter, the mastermind behind one of the very best units in the country. He doesn't have a long tenure with the program, but he has one of the best pedigrees of anyone on the staff, having spent four years in the NFL working under coach Harbaugh's brother John on the Baltimore Ravens. Last year was Minter's first as Michigan's defensive coordinator, so it'll be exciting for Michigan fans to see what he's able to do after a full year with the program.
Minter has a number of feathers in his cap from his debut season in Ann Arbor. The most notable has to be the dominating victory over Ohio State at the Horseshoe, in which Minter's defense stymied C.J. Stroud and soon-to-be first round wideouts Marvin Harrison Jr. and Emeka Egbuka, to the tune of three second half points.
The Wolverines also trounced a Penn State team that would go on to win a Rose Bowl, holding them to just a field goal in the second half. The last time we saw Minter's defense was a concerning loss to TCU in the College Football Playoff, but head coaching the team to a 4-0 record would be a great start towards redemption.
One of the most exciting changes around the program this offseason is Moore's elevation into the role of offensive coordinator. The circumstances were of course not ideal, with Matt Weiss being dismissed due to some serious misconduct on school property, but Moore has an excellent track record, and should be an upgrade over his predecessor. He has worked wonders with the offensive line that has been at the heart of Michigan's recent success, and at age 37, is one of the true rising stars in the coaching world.
The issue with Moore is that he may be facing a suspension as well due to his potential role in the alleged Level II violations that instigated the initial report that sparked this whole sage. He would otherwise be perhaps the strongest candidate for this temporary role, but even though his suspension is likely just one game, it's not too likely that Michigan wants to go through two interim coaches in the first month of the season. That being said, if he manages to avoid discipline, watch out for Moore to lead the Wolverines to start the year.
Michigan could possibly want Minter to stay in the defensive coordinator role for the sake of in-season continuity. They could also pick someone with just a bit more time with the program for the interim head coach role, and for both of these reasons they could turn to co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Steve Clinkscale. His unit was fantastic last season, as they picked off more passes than they allowed touchdowns (14 and 11, respectively).
Considering that the gameplan without Harbaugh could easily be just to let the defense do the heavy lifting and stifle the inferior opposing offenses over the first four weeks, a defensive man wearing the head coach headset would potentially be a good fit. Clinkscale has plenty of experience, as he was in a similar role at the University of Kentucky before coming to Ann Arbor, and if called upon, would surely do an admirable job leading Michigan to a 4-0 record
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