Who Is Mike Nolan? A Look at UFL’s Michigan Panthers’ Head Coach in 2024

    Former 49ers head coach Mike Nolan returned to the Michigan Panthers, and he recently wrapped up his first season in the United Football League.

    While the UFL is considered brand new, there are some familiar faces from the NFL roaming the sidelines during games.

    One is Mike Nolan, who is the head coach of the Michigan Panthers after previously holding the same title with the San Francisco 49ers. Here’s a closer look at the longtime football coach.

    Mike Nolan Returns as Head Coach of Michigan Panthers

    In addition to serving as the 49ers’ head coach from 2005 to 2008, Nolan also has defensive coordinating experience with the New York Jets, Dallas Cowboys, Atlanta Falcons, and Denver Broncos. He is among the more experienced coaches in the UFL.

    This was Nolan’s second season as the head coach of the Panthers. In 2023, he led Michigan to a 4-6 record and an appearance in the USFL North Championship Game against the Pittsburgh Maulers.

    It was a two-win improvement for Michigan in Nolan’s first season at the helm. Under Nolan in 2023, linebacker Frank Ginda earned USFL Defensive Player of the Year honors after leading the league in tackles with 104.

    A seasoned coach, Nolan has worked with 11 different NFL teams, serving as the 49ers’ head coach and the defensive coordinator for eight different teams. As the head coach of the 49ers, he finished with an 18-37 overall record across four seasons. He is also the son of former 49ers and New Orleans Saints head coach Dick Nolan.

    Prior to the USFL, Nolan most recently was the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive coordinator during the 2020 campaign. He also spent time with the New Orleans Saints (linebackers, 2017-19), San Diego Chargers (linebackers, 2015), Falcons (defensive coordinator, 2012-14), and Miami Dolphins (defensive coordinator, 2010-11).

    Prior to the 2010s, he coached with the Broncos (defensive coordinator, 2009), Baltimore Ravens (wide receivers, 2001, and defensive coordinator, 2002-04), Jets (2000, defensive coordinator), Washington Redskins (defensive coordinator, 1997-99) and New York Giants (defensive coordinator, 1993-96).

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    Nolan’s first NFL job was as a special teams coach with the Broncos from 1987 to 1988 before serving as the team’s linebackers coach from 1989 to 1992.

    Nolan attended the University of Oregon and was a three-year letterman in football, serving as the team’s starting safety. His coaching career began in 1981 as a graduate assistant for his alma mater before becoming the linebackers coach for Stanford (1982-83), defensive line coach at Rice (1984), and linebackers coach at LSU (1985-86).

    In the new UFL, the Panthers will play in the USFL Conference, along with three holdovers from their league: the Birmingham Stallions, Houston Roughnecks, and Memphis Showboats.

    The Panthers has a successful history in the USFL, which includes a championship. Now, they’ll look to create a similar legacy in the UFL.

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