Who Should be Michigan's Next Defensive Coordinator?

Who will be the next defensive coordinator for Michigan Football? Explore the top candidates and their potential impact on the team's success. Don't miss this crucial staff decision!
Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Michigan Wolverines offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore against the
Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Michigan Wolverines offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore against the / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Jim Leonhard

Jim Leonhard played defensive back for the Wisconsin Badgers in the early 2000s, starting his career as a walk-on and eventually playing nine years in the NFL.

Leonhard joined the Wisconsin staff after his time playing in the NFL and quickly rose to the role of defensive coordinator and eventually interim head coach. Despite being beloved by his players and elevating Wisconsin to one of the top defenses in the country, Leonhard was not retained by current Wisconsin head coach Luke Fickell when he took over the program. Leonhard spent this previous year as a defensive analyst for Illinois while waiting for the right job to come open.

Leonhard would bring an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience to the Michigan staff and be a huge help to first-year head coach Sherrone Moore. There would be a lot to like with this hire. Leonhard is also a really good recruiter. The downside is that Leonhard would bring a different scheme than the one that has made the Wolverines successful the past few seasons. While the defensive line and linebacker play would be similar with the use of stunts and disguised pressures, Leonhard relies much more on man coverage in the secondary. The Wolverines have relied much more heavily on zone coverage to limit big plays and match up well with more talented teams- particularly Ohio State.

Leonhard could adjust his scheme to better fit what Michigan football wants to do, but it would be a bold hire and open the risk of once again struggling to match up with elite teams defensively as well as the risk of losing some players to the transfer portal.