Next Michigan Head Coach Odds and Predictions: More Moore

The Jim Harbaugh era is over at Michigan and Wolverines offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore is a prime candidate to take over the coaching duties.

Jan 25, 2024 • 15:00 ET • 4 min read
Sherrone Moore in NCAAF action.
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

After his tour around NFL openings and stringing the Michigan Wolverines along for the last couple of months — an annual occurrence in Ann Arbor the last three years — Jim Harbaugh finally made up his mind.

The new Los Angeles Chargers head coach leaves behind a Big Ten contender with a strong position in the CFP Title odds, but first, Michigan needs to find its next head coach.

As the only FBS head-coaching job open, the Wolverines administration could conceivably take its time in making this choice, but that time would work against keeping the roster together, with players needing to make quick decisions on possibly transferring with other schools already into their spring semesters.

So a relatively quick decision should be expected, and the latest college football odds make it clear who the frontrunner is.

Next Michigan head coach odds

Coach Odds
Sherrone Moore -700
Lance Leipold +600
Brian Kelly +700
P.J. Fleck +1,000
Jesse Minter +1,000
Matt Campbell +1,200
Chris Klieman +1,600
Mike Hart +1,600
Matt Rhule +2,000
Lane Kiffin +2,500

Odds as of January 25, 2024

The Michigan Wolverines' situation at a glance

Michigan will need to replace a significant amount of its national championship-winning roster, most notably starting quarterback J.J. McCarthy and star running back Blake Corum. That much was always known. The Wolverines’ hype machine spent some of 2023 the preseason publicly suggesting they might have seven draft picks along their offensive line. Obviously, some of them were going to be gone as soon as the 2023 season ended.

Yet, Michigan remains in the mix among 2024 national title contenders, not among the three that are a cut above — Georgia, Ohio State and Texas — but in the next tier with Alabama, Oregon, LSU and Mississippi. Odds of about +1,400 make it clear the Wolverines should at least make the 12-team playoff beginning next year.

Hiring the wrong coach would not immediately impact those odds, though it would certainly reveal itself early next season as Michigan faces Texas on September 7 and USC on Sept. 21.

Waiting to hire a coach, however, could impact those odds. As all of college football just witnessed at Alabama, a moment like this can be uncertain for a modern roster.

If players are considering leaving Ann Arbor because Harbaugh did, they need to act quickly if they want to play spring football at their next program. Most universities are about to close enrollment for their spring semester, and a player needs to be enrolled in order to practice.

That sense of urgency helps explain why a Michigan assistant is the clear frontrunner to replace Harbaugh.

Favorites to be next Michigan head coach

Sherrone Moore (-700)

Wolverines' offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore served as interim head coach for four games this season thanks to Harbaugh’s multiple suspensions — including the last three games of the regular season — winning at Penn State and beating Ohio State. That is the top-line reason Moore should become the 14th Black head coach at the FBS level (10.4% of 134 jobs).

He knows this roster, he has publicly shown his mutual admiration with the players, and he proved he can beat Michigan’s two biggest rivals.

Multiple reports have already identified Moore as the Wolverines’ focus. Hence, these hefty odds in his favor.

If there is any reason to doubt Moore’s path to his first HC job, it's his proximity to the sign-stealing scandal that led to Harbaugh’s second three-game suspension this season. The NCAA will presumably take its time with its investigation into Connor Stallions’ masterplan, but if Moore had explicit knowledge of the sign-stealing the last few seasons, Michigan may want to distance itself from those sanctions.

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Lance Leipold (+600)

Leipold will appear near the top of these lists for every big college football opening until he leaves Kansas. Turning the Jayhawks from a punchline into a winning football team is impressive enough, but to do it in back-to-back years rife with quarterback injuries is even more astounding.

Leipold’s innovative offense will face a test in 2024: How well does it function without offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki, who just left for Penn State? Regardless, Leipold will draw interest. It is his offense, originally, and he's shown an ability to repeatedly build programs.

Leipold signed a contract extension in late 2022, one that pays him an average of $5.3 million per year. While Michigan would assuredly offer more — the Wolverines reportedly offered Harbaugh the biggest contract in college football — Leipold can afford to be picky. There may be few jobs better than Ann Arbor’s, but there are also few jobs with as lofty of expectations.

Brian Kelly (+700)

Michigan would have to pay. Michigan would have to pay a lot.

Kelly has eight years remaining on his contract at LSU, one that has about $72 million guaranteed remaining. Even if his 2023 was disappointing, there is no reason to think Kelly is about to walk away from $72 million.

Would you?

But Michigan could conceivably make an offer that would spark thought. Kelly mostly lands this high on the odds board because of one rumor earlier this month that suggested this as a possibility. If any bet here reeks of poor value, it is this one more than any other.

A darkhorse to be next Michigan head coach

Chris Klieman (+1,600)

Kansas State tried to move on from Bill Snyder in the 2000s. It went so badly that he came out of retirement to take over the program for another decade. Since 1935, only Snyder had a winning record in the Little Apple... until Chris Klieman took over after Snyder’s lasting retirement.

Klieman has gone 39-24 in five seasons and won the Big 12 in 2022. There may not be a greater testament to a coach’s ability in college football than winning at Kansas State, given only two people have ever done it since the Great Depression.

Klieman may not be a splashy hire for Michigan, but he could be the one with the most impressive track record, at least to those few people still paying attention to the Big 12.

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