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Is Western Michigan Closing in on a Michigan Man?

Rumors are swirling. Is there fire to this smoke?

Maryland v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Follow a team long enough and you’re sure to go through a Coach Search. It’s both the best and worst of fandom, and ultimately humanity, but if nothing else, it’s a good time to be ok with wild speculation and rumor. Western Michigan now finds themselves knee deep in Coach Search 17 in Kalamazoo. Break out the flight trackers and football office stakeouts, y’all.

If Twitter is to be believed (and I mean, why wouldn’t it be?!?) then multiple people are saying that current Michigan running backs coach and Inkster, MI native Tyrone Wheatley is a (leading?) candidate for the WMU head coach position recently vacated by P.J. Fleck rowing his boat to Minnesota. Their evidence, and it’s air tight let me tell you, is Wheatley beginning to follow the current WMU recruits (or at least those who haven’t decommitted) and current Bronco student athletes on Twitter. Who you follow doesn’t necessarily indicate anything, but a Michigan assistant suddenly following a bunch of high school players and WMU student athletes is, at bare minimum, curious.

The Broncos could do far worse than Wheatley, as his football pedigree is strong and those around the profession will tell you that he has had a goal (as many do) of landing a head coaching gig sooner rather than later. He knows the recruiting landscape of Michigan and can immediately get Western in doors that may have otherwise closed with Fleck leaving and a new coach coming in. If Michigan fans’ responses to his potential transition are indicative of his qualities as a coach and recruiter, then WMU fans should be pleased with this sort of thing.

Wheatley has spent the last two years at Michigan, where he was one of the school’s all-time greats before his decade-long NFL career. After his retirement from the NFL he coached high school at Robichaud in Dearborn Heights, further cementing connections with the Mitten State. The resume is actually pretty ideal for a MAC school and his loyalties to the state run deep. WMU could do far far worse.

Here’s the wet blanket: I think it’s prudent to give a slight word of warning for that Twitter follower kind of logic. When Pete Lembo left Ball State, former Cardinal assistant coach and current NC State assistant Eddie Faulkner began following recruits, players, and administrators. There was a groundswell of grassroots support because of it, and as we saw, Mike Neu was eventually hired with Faulkner’s candidacy never really getting any “real” traction from those in power to actually make a hire.

But, hey, this season has been a dream for Broncos fans up until about five days ago. Why should the coach search be tempered with reality and logic. YOU AREN’T WELCOME HERE, FACTS. If you want to do some Twitter stalking you can catch up with Coach Wheatley here.