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Colin Cowherd: Brian Kelly should replace Jim Harbaugh at Michigan
College Football

Colin Cowherd: Brian Kelly should replace Jim Harbaugh at Michigan

Published Jan. 25, 2024 10:57 p.m. ET

To hire from within or not to? That is Michigan's question.

With Jim Harbaugh officially heading back to the NFL as the new head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, the Wolverines are now tasked with filling the national championship-winning coach's shoes. 

While Michigan offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore has been floated as the favorite for the job, The Herd's Colin Cowherd hopes the university will consider other choices that are "not safe" or "comfortable."

On Thursday's episode, Cowherd offered up an alternative game plan in lieu of the traditional hiring process when it comes to replacing a "legend."


"What Michigan is going to do is very predictable," Cowherd began. "When a legend leaves … universities do two things. They either upgrade somebody on the staff or they find somebody who had a connection to the legend."

Why Michigan should pursue Brian Kelly to replace Jim Harbaugh | The Herd

"It's a no-win proposition. You lose a legend, and the market rarely has another one waiting to be hired … I totally understand it, though I would try and push back on it."

Cowherd seemed to be referring specifically to the buzz surrounding Moore, who is a potential candidate following his successful stint as Harbaugh's replacement during his suspension this season, in which the team went 4-0.

"I would do the unpopular thing," Cowherd continued. "I would hire somebody that makes people feel uncomfortable like Jim did. I'd hire Brian Kelly." 

Brian Kelly, who currently serves as the head coach at LSU, is similar to Harbaugh in more ways than one, according to Cowherd. 

"Oh, I know you don't like him … and many don't like Jim Harbaugh. But yet, Brian Kelly wins. And wins everywhere … wins instantly. And, he rubs people the wrong way. Even today, after all the success, so does Harbaugh."

Cowherd strongly believes the formula of hiring coaches that have been in close proximity to a legend like Harbaugh and former Alabama coach Nick Saban does not automatically guarantee greatness.

"How many Belichick assistants have hit?" Cowherd asked. "The answer is none. I can give you 25 examples of this." 

"It will work for about a year and half, and then you will see cracks," he continued. "Proximity to genius, and proximity to greatness, does need equal genius or greatness."

Cowherd commended Alabama for the hiring of former Washington head coach Kalen DeBoer, as he has no ties to the Crimson Tide. 

"I thought that coaching hire was brilliant, rare and took courage. Kalen DeBoer has no connection to Bama. That's the way to do it, and that dude can coach."

"But, he won't be Saban. There are no more Nicks. And, there are no more Jims."

In the end, Cowherd decided to keep his expectations realistic, understanding the safe choice would probably be the inevitable one.

"Brian Kelly's not there," Cowherd concluded. "He never got to a Super Bowl. He doesn't have NFL offers. He doesn't have a natty. But, he's the closest thing to Jim … he's not going to get hired. 

"And, I get it … a young man who deserves a chance at Michigan will, and I wish him the very best — but in my lifetime, the easy, the comfortable is almost never the perfect choice. But, let's be honest … who needs perfect at Michigan?"

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