Hmm, Michigan hiring a relatively young, relatively unknown coach from a school in Ohio.

Remind you of any other situation in the Wolverines’ past?

OK, before you attack me with your maize and blue torches, I understand Cincinnati Brian Kelly won’t be the next Bo Schembechler.

Then again, who will?

Given Kelly’s success as a head coach over the last 17 years, he’s as good a choice as any of the other realistic candidates for the Michigan vacancy.

Some of you may be skeptical, considering Kelly amassed most of his 146-54-2 record at Division-II Grand Valley State. But his team’s level of dominance over his final three years would have been impressive even for a Pee-Wee football coach.

His 2001 squad set the all-time Division-II record by scoring 58.4 points per game. His 2002 and 2003 teams won National Championships. In those three years combined, he lost just two of 43 games.

And since leaving, he’s proven he can coach at the Division-I level.

In three years at Central Michigan, he posted a 19-16 record and led the Chippewas to their first winning season in seven years. (If you recall, current Michigan offensive coordinator and head coach candidate Mike DeBord also coached at Central Michigan. His record: 12 wins, 34 losses and one resignation. You be the judge.)

He’s already made a huge impact at Cincinnati, too. And it’s not just the team’s 9-3 record. Or that it made the top 25 for the first time since 1976.

He has people camping for Cincinnati tickets to … football games?!

A high-powered spread offense helps (sounds nice, doesn’t it?), but so does a coach with a politician’s love for the people. The son of an alderman and himself a former presidential campaign worker, Kelly knows how to motivate players, fans and recruits.

“He’s a salesman is what he is,” Grand Valley State coach Chuck Martin told ESPN.com. “Whether it’s Grand Valley State or Central Michigan or Cincinnati, he has kids believing they can move mountains. His No. 1 strength is offense. His No. 2 strength is how good he is politically at getting people to believe in his program. He sells it door to door, which not a lot of coaches will do.”

And if he’s able to sell his platform at schools like those, imagine what he could do with a powerful political machine like Michigan behind him.

Kelly might not be the most recognizable name on the candidates list. But I have the feeling we won’t be saying “Brian Who?” once he’s coaching.

– Herman can be reached at jaherman@umich.edu.

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