On Friday, days after Jim Harbaugh departed to coach the Los Angeles Chargers, the Michigan Wolverines promoted Sherrone Moore as the legendary coach's successor. It's never easy for "the guy after the guy" -- the coach who has the unenviable task of following someone who has come to define a program through years of winning records and championships. Even if you perform well, you're constantly facing comparisons to an icon.
Harbaugh left the Wolverines on top, having led his alma mater to its first national championship since 1997. Moore's promotion to co-offensive coordinator (later taking sole control of the position) coincided with Michigan's best run under Harbaugh, with the Wolverines beating the Ohio State Buckeyes and making the College Football Playoff in three straight years. Moore led the Wolverines' offensive line to Joe Moore Award victories in 2021 and 2022.
Moore has already been Michigan's game-day coach on five separate occasions, leading the Wolverines to victories over the Bowling Green Falcons, Penn State Nittany Lions, Maryland Terrapins and Ohio State in 2023 with Harbaugh suspended.
Bill Belichick to Jerod Mayo (New England Patriots)
At 37 years old, the promotion makes Mayo the youngest head coach in the NFL -- a title previously held by the Los Angeles Rams' Sean McVay (one month older than Mayo). While this will be Mayo's first time at the helm, he's far from new to the organization. The newly minted HC joined Belichick's coaching staff in 2019, serving as linebackers coach. Before that, he played linebacker for New England from 2008 to 2015 after being selected in the first round. Mayo is familiar with the franchise and has noted support from players. Here's how other coaches have fared in succeeding some of the best in the game:
Mike Krzyzewski to Jon Scheyer (Duke Blue Devils)
After a 47-year coaching career and five national titles, Krzyzewski retired and Scheyer took over with some huge shoes to fill. Scheyer proved to be up for the challenge. He led the Blue Devils to a 27-9 mark in his first season, winning the ACC tournament and going undefeated at home. Scheyer was the first coach in conference history to post an undefeated home record in a debut season. In his second season, the Blue Devils are ranked No. 11 by the AP Poll and No. 2 in the ACC.
Roy Williams to Hubert Davis (North Carolina Tar Heels)
Davis made a splash in his first season as North Carolina Tar Heels coach. Williams' successor brought his squad on an epic run through the NCAA tournament, culminating in a trip to the national championship game. Davis joined the elite club of those who have gone to a Final Four as a player (1991), an assistant coach (2016 and 2017) and as a head coach (2022). In his third season, UNC is ranked No. 7 by the AP Poll and No. 1 in the ACC with a 12-3 record at the time of publication.
Phil Jackson to Tim Floyd (Chicago Bulls)
This is extremely unfair to Floyd -- not only did he have to follow up Jackson's 545-193 record and six NBA titles, he had to do it without Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman or Steve Kerr. Floyd went 49-190 during his time with the Bulls and resigned in December 2001.
Vince Lombardi to Phil Bengtson (Green Bay Packers)
Not easy to replace the guy for whom they named the championship trophy. And no wonder -- Lombardi won five titles, two of which were Super Bowls, to go along with an 89-29-4 record. Bengtson succeeded him after the 1967 season but managed only a 20-21-1 mark with a single winning season. He resigned before the 1971 season.
Pat Summitt to Holly Warlick (Tennessee Lady Volunteers women's basketball)
Few other people in history represent women's college basketball like Pat Summitt. She coached Tennessee from 1974 to her retirement in 2012, racking up a 1,098-208 record with eight NCAA tournament titles. Warlick coached the team until 2019, and while she didn't win a title, she was no slouch -- Tennessee went 172-67 with three Sweet 16 and two Elite Eight appearances during her tenure.
John Wooden to Gene Bartow (UCLA Bruins men's basketball)
Imagine following a college basketball icon who won 10 NCAA championships, seven of them consecutively. That was the task facing Gene Bartow when he succeeded John Wooden after the latter won his final title during the 1974-75 season. Oddly enough, Bartow actually had an overall better winning percentage (.836 compared to Wooden's .808) with UCLA, but was there for only two seasons and made the Final Four once.
Tom Landry to Jimmy Johnson (Dallas Cowboys)
Tom Landry didn't have a winning record until his seventh season as Cowboys head coach -- which makes his final record of 250-162 with two Super Bowl titles all the more impressive. Johnson, formerly the coach of the Miami Hurricanes, started his Cowboys tenure in similar fashion, going 8-24 in his first two seasons, before turning it around and winning a pair of Super Bowls with America's team. Speaking of following an icon ...
Don Shula to Jimmy Johnson (Miami Dolphins)
Shula remains the NFL's winningest head coach with 328 regular season victories. He had a .659 winning percentage with the Dolphins and led them to two Super Bowl championships, including the league's only undefeated season. The Dolphins hired Johnson as Shula's successor for the 1996-97 season. Despite not having coached since 1993-94, Johnson kept the Dolphins respectable, leading them to a 36-28 record with two playoff wins in four seasons.
Joe Torre to Joe Girardi (New York Yankees)
Few managers have had a better run in baseball than Joe Torre with the Yankees. In 12 seasons managing the team, he had a .605 winning percentage and won four World Series titles, three of them consecutively. The team fell to third place in the AL East in Girardi's first season, but came roaring back in his sophomore effort to win the 2009 World Series. New York would have a .562 winning percentage during Girardi's tenure and he left when his contract expired after the 2017 season.
Muffet McGraw to Niele Ivey (Notre Dame Fighting Irish women's basketball)
McGraw's Fighting Irish made the NCAA tournament every year from 1995 to 2019 and won it all twice, in 2001 and 2018. She went 848-251 for a .772 winning percentage during her time at Notre Dame. Ivey's first season as her successor was cut short because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but she made the Sweet 16 in her second and has a 34-20 record overall.
Bobby Bowden to Jimbo Fisher (Florida State Seminoles football)
Bowden won 21 bowl games with Florida State, including two national championships, for an overall record of 304-97-4. Jimbo Fisher picked up right where he left off, winning a title in his fourth season with the team and compiling an 83-23 record for a winning percentage of .783 -- a higher mark than Bowden's. Fisher would stay with the team from 2010 to 2017 before leaving to coach Texas A&M.
Barry Switzer to Gary Gibbs (Oklahoma Sooners football)
Switzer won three national titles and put up a 157-29-4 record as Oklahoma's head coach, but resigned amid several scandals in 1989. Gibbs faced the challenge of several NCAA sanctions on the Sooners' program, but still managed a 44-23-2 record with two bowl wins during his time as head coach.