BY JOE STAPLETON
Daily Sports Editor
Published January 5, 2011
Though the press conference yesterday was called to relegate Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez to the past, Athletic Director David Brandon fielded mostly questions about the future — specifically, who would be the next coach.
Several names have been floating in and out of the conversation. Jim Harbaugh of Stanford, Brady Hoke of San Diego State and even Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald have been suggested as possible replacement candidates. And though speculation about Rodriguez's job status is over, speculation about who will be his replacement is just picking up steam.
Brandon addressed only Harbaugh specifically, saying it was his opinion that Stanford's coach will end up in the NFL. Brandon didn't offer much in the way of naming who would probably replace Rodriguez, but he did talk about what he is looking for in a replacement.
"This individual is a very high-profile person who becomes, to a large degree, a name and a face that's very important to the University," Brandon said. "This individual has to be able to compete at the highest level. The expectations here are extraordinarily high ... (and) that puts a coach in a position where they have to have the ability to stand up to that pressure and perform against it."
He added that the head coach of the football team becomes a "significant spokesperson for the University."
Another thing Brandon made clear was that he feels no pressure to find a coach who runs a similar offense to Rodriguez — though he is looking for a coach who is willing to modify his schemes to fit the players available.
"One of the things I look for is a coach who can modify their approach and their attack based on the personnel they have," Brandon said. "We know who our players are, and we know what we have, and we know what they're used to, and we know what their experience has been."
One of the knocks on Rodriguez has been his inability to do just that. Many fans have pointed to the transfer of quarterback and potential NFL first-round pick Ryan Mallett to Arkansas, soon after Rodriguez came to Michigan, as an example of a coach who couldn't adapt his system to the talent around him. Mallett is not seen as a run-option quarterback.
That seems to indicate one major change. The other: Brandon wants defense.
"Is there a thought of getting a defensive-minded head coach?" Brandon said. "There's a thought of getting a defensive-minded everything. I want the ball boys to be defensive-minded."
This would be a sharp break from Rodriguez, a coach who focuses almost exclusively on the offensive side of the ball. Michigan's defense statistically was one of the worst in the country this year.
Brandon went on to say that he feels the candidate must have head coaching experience.
"My personal belief is that the requirements of this job really lend themselves to someone who's led a team," Brandon said. "And who has head coaching experience and who has recruiting experience and recruiting roots."
When asked if he thought the coach had to be someone from a BCS school, Brandon said he didn't think so and replied, "Is (Ohio State coach Jim) Tressel a bad coach? I think he seems to be doing pretty well down there, at least against us."