This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise but Michigan has announced head coach Brady Hoke has been fired. Hoke led the Wolverines to an 11-2 record in his first year and a Sugar Bowl victory over Virginia Tech. The win was their first BCS bowl birth since 2006 and was easily the highest point of his tenure as each year Michigan’s win total has declined. 8 wins in 2012, 7 wins in 2013 and just 5 wins this year have been more than enough reason to can Brady Hoke and attempt to move on to bigger and better things. With the Michigan job opening up, the recent firing of Bo Pelini at Nebraska, and Florida letting Will Muschamp go, the coaching carousel is about to take full effect. We take a look at which school presents the best opportunity.
Nebraska: Nebraska finished 9-3 this year and the cupboard is not entirely bare. While they are losing star running back Ameer Abdullah and leading receiver Kenny Bell, they will be returning receiver Jordan Westerkamp who was second on the team with 41 catches and 666 yards. Nebraska has year in and year out won eight games and has set the standard for mediocrity. While they are not in a fertile recruiting ground, they have consistently pumped players into the NFL. That’s a product of the coaching staff, who has landed Top 30 recruiting classes each year. Nebraska doesn’t scream “sleeping giant,” but the right coach could land more athletes and turn Nebraska into a perennial ten win team that could compete for Big 10 championships. I would deem it the least appealing of the job openings I’ve mentioned.
Florida: Florida has the talent, the perfect area for recruiting, and the big time brand name that will attract almost most any coach. The issue that has plagued Florida since they lost Tim Tebow is their poor production at the quarterback position and their lack of offensive weapons. Florida will not compete again for SEC championships until they can recruit a pro-style quarterback that can throw the ball downfield. Will Muschamp and his staff didn’t learn that, continually starting an unproven athlete who struggles with downfield passing. Florida has a premier defense and will always have one as long as they continue to recruit well. The next coach will need to find a quarterback that the staff can build around in order for the offense to be just as strong as the defense. While Florida is the best job available out of the three mentioned, it’s vital that the coach they choose is someone who is offensive minded and can develop quarterbacks.
Michigan: Michigan hasn’t been the same since Lloyd Carr and it’s pretty much Florida of the midwest. A defense that ranked tenth nationally, compiled with an offense that ranked 113th in the country is why Michigan is once again searching for another coach. Like Florida, the Wolverines have the talent on defense to compete for Big 10 championships, but their offense and quarterback play is abysmal. Devin Gardner is not a quarterback, rather an athlete playing the quarterback position because there are no other options. Michigan needs to a) find a quarterback that actually can throw the ball and b) needs to find a coach who can develop the quarterback position and someone who will not ignore the offense like Brady Hoke did. Michigan will need to find a coach and find one fast. As of right now, they have seven commitments which ranks 70th in the nation just two months before signing day. A school with a pedigree such as Michigan can’t afford to strike out again on this coaching search or it will continue to be more of the same in Ann Arbor.
*Section Photo credit to Sam Greenwood, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Jerry Lai, USA Today Sports.