Michigan football will have four head coaches in its first three games

Michigan vs. Colorado State

Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh prepares to take the field before Michigan faces off against Colorado State at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. Jacob Hamilton | MLive.comJacob Hamilton | MLive.com


Jim Harbaugh has decided on who will fill his shoes during the Michigan coach’s three-game suspension, and the idea is about as outside the box as they come.

The Wolverines are going to have four different head coaches in their first three games this fall. No, really.

Harbaugh unveiled his plan on Thursday in an announcement issued by the program, and here’s how it will go:

• Defensive coordinator Jesse Minter is first up, appointed as acting head coach for Michigan’s Sept. 2 season opener against East Carolina

• The next week, Sept. 9 against Nevada, Las Vegas, safeties coach and special teams coordinator Jay Harbaugh will handle the first half, with running backs coach and run-game coordinator Mike Hart in charge of the second half

• Against Bowling Green on Sept. 16, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Sherrone Moore will serve as head coach

“I’m certain that all will be impressed with the four coaches’ ability to direct and manage the game,” Harbaugh said in an issued statement. “It’s been well documented that we have a very talented coaching staff and I believe that all 10 assistant coaches will be head coaches in the future.”

Harbaugh has been complimentary of his staff of assistants in recent months, many of them up-and-coming coaches in the industry. None of them have been a head coach before, paving the way for this unorthodox approach.

“They are all capable of leading a team at an elite level,” Harbaugh continued. “I know that everyone will handle their responsibilities and help our players to be the best version of themselves on and off the field this fall and beyond.”

In addition, Harbaugh has named strength and conditioning director Ben Herbert associate head coach for all three games, and his 84-year-old father, Jack, assistant head coach.

The appointments come after Harbaugh was slapped with a three-game suspension from Michigan amidst an NCAA probe into the football team. The program itself faces several Level II penalties for impermissible recruiting violations and on- and off-field coaching violations.

Harbaugh himself faces a more serious Level I violation for allegedly not cooperating with NCAA investigators. Michigan volunteered a four-game ban for Harbaugh as part of a negotiated resolution submitted to the NCAA last month, but it was reportedly rejected by the governing body’s Committee on Infractions.

The 59-year-old Michigan coach hasn’t said much publicly about the investigation, only declaring there was “nothing to be ashamed of” during Big Ten Media Days in Indianapolis last month.

In a statement issued to reporters on Monday after news of the school’s ruling came down, Harbaugh said: “I will continue to do what I always do and what I always tell our players and my kids at home: ‘Don’t get bitter, get better.’”

Under terms of the suspension, Michigan will still permit Harbaugh to be present for practices and meetings. He is set to resume his coaching duties during the Sept. 26 game against Rutgers.

The Wolverines, coming off back-to-back Big Ten titles and College Football Playoff appearances, open the 2023 season ranked No. 2 nationally.

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