spoiler alert: i linked this
Just a quick reminder of how awesome the new coaching staff is.
In total, Michigan's staff has a combined 34 years of NFL experience as a head coach, assistant coach or team staffer. There's also the 49 years of combined NFL playing experience held by Harbaugh, Jackson, Zordich and Tyrone Wheatley.
With Michigan trying to fill out the rest of the position coach slots, I find myself not knowing what to think about most of the candidates. There are a handful of position coaches out there who have proven their skills beyond a shred of a doubt—a guy like Soup Campbell, for instance, and his string of overachieving WRs or Drevno and his all-all-pro line. But for most of the candidates, I have no clue.
Take Wheatley, for instance: I loved watching him play tailback for Gary Moeller—but that doesn’t mean he’s a great coach, and it also doesn’t mean he isn’t. Many of the seemingly common sense indicators can be interpreted multiple ways; does Jimmy Graham’s success prove that Terry Malone is a good TE coach? Or does Terry Malone just look like a good TE coach because of Jimmy Graham? I suppose the most obvious indicator is whether the players at a particular coach’s position group consistently perform well over time despite significant personnel turnover—but this information is not always easy to ascertain, particularly when position coaches may change teams frequently or where (as in the Malone example) a star player might occupy a position for a prolonged period of time.
So, this is an attempt to figure out what information to look for in deciding whether a particular position coach candidate is appealing or not. What kinds of information would you look for in a position coach’s record to decide whether we’d want him or not? What kinds of things would you discount? How would you prioritize ancillary factors, such as a coach’s reputation as a recruiter or history as a player?
The Birmingham Bowl is upon us! The mighty ECU Fighting AAAARRRRS versus the Florida Gators. I'm sure this would generally generate little interest, except there's no other football to watch and there will (hopefully) be an announcement soon after the game's conclusion that Michigan will be picking up a new DC, DJ "Dirty" Durkin.
Here's an interesting Rivals article (link). Highlights!
- Obviously: OSU and Michigan have the best recruiters. You probably know all about Michigan's body of work, but OSU was admittedly impressive in Texas and Georgia. They secured the #1 Texan and took a 4 star running back wanted by Texas/Oregon. They also beat out 'Bama and Georgia for a 5 star Georgian linebacker.
- Also expected: Fred Jackson's recruiting prowess in Detroit is like Nick Saban and Lane Kiffin, but cleaner (This is almost not an exaggeration.)
- Greg Mattison's work all over the country gets mentioned. He's credited for securing Poggi from the Crimson Temptress, but you probably knew that already.
- I think Indiana's continued recruiting successes are the most noteworthy. They pulled a couple 4 star prospects from the Hoosier State--but also a 4 star out of Georgia. Indy raiding the SEC is pretty wild.
- Jerry Montgomery didn't make the list. These things probably vary by year, and I don't think it's a strong indication of anything in particular, but it's a relevant omission for Michigan fans.
- Frosting should come in two varieties: Chuck E. Cheese-style and the kind made with cream cheese. Also, all pie crusts should be made of graham crackers.
I returned home from vacation today and was surprised to see that [DL Coach Jerry] Montgomery had gone to Oklahoma. This is surprising, because it really represents Hoke's first failure in the "always be closing Michigan" department. Let me explain.
Brian started the "Brady Hoke poops gold" meme in the first few months of the hire. I always thought that was an unnecessarily crude way of saying that the man is a walking intangible - people skills, emotional intelligence, command organization and structure, leadership - traits that can benefit a football coach more than running a whiz-bang offense. In fact, I believe the original intent of the meme was to be a backhanded way of praising the "Profiles in Cronyism" subject, but I digress...
The point is that Hoke is what he is, and what he is a Michigan salesman extraordinaire. His intangible attributes as a football coach also translate directly into recruiting, which is basically sales. This means he has had the opportunity to sell Michigan not just to 18 year old kids, but also to some already established targets. So far, here is who he has been able to close:
1 - Denard Robinson. For better or worse the decision was made to make sure Denard, stayed a Michigan man. The upside being roster continuity and a running game, the downside being the clumsy Power Spread N' Bland of the first half of last season. We all know how Molk and others affected the transition, but at the end of the day it has to come from the head coach. Hoke delivered. He was able to connect to Denard. He oversaw a transition almost free of malcontent by ensuring the biggest question mark became the biggest exclamation point.
2 - Greg Mattison. There are still some commenters who question Hoke's long term prospects at the helm; but praise for Mattison is universal. Though Mattison already had a history with the staff, and ties to the area, Hoke still had to seal the deal. Bringing in an established NFL D-Coordinator to oversee a worst-to-first one year turnaround is probably Brady Hoke's biggest off the field achievement yet.
3 - Morris, Greene, et al. Hoke, though he may not do it himself, has overseen three solid recruiting classes. The transition class didn't turn to mush, even with the huge change in styles; and the last two classes have been national top ten efforts. Not too much more to say here except for the fact that there is praise among all recruits regarding the staff's honesty and upfrontness. Again, organization culture is driven from the top down, tears or no.
4 - Taylor Lewan. This is the biggest player coup. Having a first round left tackle come back for his senior year is tremendous because obviously. (I always like to think about the possibilities that Lewan necessarily feels next year's team can achieve. He is the ultimate insider going all in.) While nobody knows the exact nature of the conversations between Hoke and Lewan, it must be assumed that Hoke was trying to get the stud left tackle to return. In the press conference, Hoke made mention of "the pride of the position" and that "they always seemed to come back for their senior years" (paraphrasing). That Hoke used the word pride is not surprising. What is noteworthy was that Hoke figured out which buttons to press, and was able to press them in a subtle enough way to not evoke an reaction opposite of that intended.
This is a master? Perhaps. He certainly sells well. Now we have the first "No". What does the departure mean? It means Montgomery is an up and coming coach who is a nationally recognized recruiter. The way I see it, tradition, prestige, program upside, likelihood of success, and even climate are all arguably a wash. Compensation was competitive. I think it means that Stoops was able to offer Montgomery something that Hoke could not. Maybe it was a promise of a promotion soon. Maybe it was the ability to recruit more better players due to Oklahoma being on one side of an imaginary line while Michigan is on the other.
Whatever the case, Montgomery would not be the first assistant to return if it works out that way; and I have faith in Hoke to find the next piece that will result in good things. Remember, the expectation is for the (assistant) position. Go Blue.
Some may not agree, but it's pretty clear the two remaining spots on the staff are reserved for defensive coaches, probably DL and DB.
DL because both Hoke and Mattison likely recognize the importance of a dedicated DL coach, and DB because, well, yeah. Two DB coaches is also a possibility.
So why no hires, especially at DB? Possible reasons:
 Mattison is too busy recruiting, and doesn't have time to focus on hiring coaches. He'll do it after signing day. Rushing it now won't help recruiting and if we've learned anything in the past three years, it's that chemistry among defensive coaches and coordinator matters.
 They have someone in mind, but he's still working... The best-known candidate in this category, Mike Trgovac (Packers' DL coach and Bo-schooled Michigan man), is not possible, since it would be a step backward for a guy thought to have a shot at the Denver Broncos' DC position. Joe Whitt, Jr. (Packers' cornerbacks) was coaching at Louisville (cornerbacks and recruiting coordinator) through the 2007 season, so maybe, if he's interested in returning to the college ranks and Woodson and Trgovac recommend. I don't see any possibilities on the Steelers, and the Jets guys are highly unlikely. As for the Bears -- Jon Hoke (defensive backs) is, yes, Brady Hoke's older brother. Surely there's been a thread on this?
Anyhow, what is the CW?