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If Jim Harbaugh leaves Michigan, will Sherrone Moore replace him?

Moore excelled as the interim during Harbaugh’s absence. Is he the successor in Ann Arbor?

Ohio State v Michigan Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Michigan still has unfinished business in 2023, but while they take care of beating Iowa, we’re looking ahead to 2024. Despite the Big Ten’s three-game suspension of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, the drama surrounding Michigan’s sign-stealing scandal is far from over.

The NCAA is currently undertaking its own investigation, and Harbaugh and the program as a whole could face further penalties going forward depending on how that plays out. Harbaugh expressed interest in multiple NFL openings last offseason. With the investigation looming large over the program, could this finally be the year that he goes back to the pros?

If it is, Michigan will be hard-pressed to find a coach that follows up Harbaugh’s success, with what will likely become two back-to-back College Football Playoff appearances. Offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore took over interim head coaching duties during Harbaugh’s three-game suspension, and led the Wolverines to their two biggest wins of the season without Harbaugh on the sideline. If Harbaugh leaves, would Michigan turn to Moore, who has never had a head coaching gig?

It’s certainly a risk to hand over a program as high-profile as Michigan’s is to a coach with no explicit head coaching experience. However, the fanbase and school have rallied behind Moore in his time as interim head coach. And it’s not unheard of — Notre Dame promoted Marcus Freeman to his first head coaching gig two years ago, and Oklahoma hired Brent Venables away from Clemson for his first head coaching job, as well.

There are plenty of “ifs” here, as Harbaugh has not announced any intention to leave, but Moore could certainly be considered as a replacement if he does head to the pros. The last time Michigan hired a head coach with no HC experience was in 1995, when they promoted Lloyd Carr to the position after he had spent 15 years in various roles with the program.