Herrmann, Heater Chucked Into The DC Conversation Comment Count

Brian January 13th, 2009 at 5:09 PM

Tom Deinhart is hanging out at the coaching convention and says:

Michigan's search for a defensive coordinator continues. Two names making the rounds: former Michigan defensive coordinator Jim Herrmann, who coached linebackers for the New York Jets this season, and Florida safeties coach Chuck Heater.

Of course, everyone's first reaction to Jim Herrmann is "aigh!" Then everyone thinks about the 2005 season and doubles down on "aigh!" And then, no doubt, this will all be put behind us shortly. Herrmann makes no sense in a number of ways. After Rodriguez took a gamble on Scott Shafer that ended in dissention and disaster, he's repeatedly stressed fit and comfort as primary criteria in the DC search. AFAIK, he's never interacted with Herrmann. Also, Michigan fans were ready to run Herrmann out of town on a rail in 2005. A return would be awkward, to say the least.

Heater, on the other hand, is an interesting guy. He's an alum, the starting wingback on the 1974 team (he's sitting next to Dennis Franklin in the front row wearing #28 in this afro-tastic team photo). Since graduation he's been an assistant at a thousand different schools: Northern Arizona, Toledo, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Colorado State, Colorado, Washington, Utah, and Florida. Aside from a couple brief stints as a RB coach and one year as a DC at Toledo he's been a secondary coach for the entirety of his career; he's also held the title "recruiting coordinator" for the past ten years, a span that covers jobs at four different schools. Much has been made of the close relationship between Meyer and Rodriguez and their respective staffs; chances are Rodriguez knows Heater pretty well.

The pro column: Heater's a career college assistant and alum who's been a key part of the Meyer recruiting machine for the past five years. He'll help out Michigan's Florida recruiting significantly, and he's been a part of what's normally a vicious Florida defense.

The con column: no DC experience, obviously, and it's questionable how much impact he's had on a coaching staff with Charlie Strong and Greg Mattison and so forth and so on.

Update: also, Heater will brave Haiti to get a recruit; also, here's an interview with Heater from before the season.


Doctor Sardonicus

January 13th, 2009 at 5:39 PM ^

Heater was DC for Earle Bruce at CSU in 1991-92 (whereupon Earle got fired for going Woody on his own players). And Heater's sitting next to Dave Brown in the Afro-tastic photo, Franklin's #9 a bit further over.


January 13th, 2009 at 5:46 PM ^

It does look like he jumped around a lot, but in a couple of the more recent situations he was just following his head coaches much like the Michigan staff did. He followed Neuheisal from Colorado to Washington. Then he did switch jobs to go to Utah. He then followed Meyer to Florida.

So he has been somewhat loyal to his coaches, but maybe not the schools.


January 13th, 2009 at 6:47 PM ^

Both of these candidates would be big disappointments. Herrmann might just be the worst possible choice. Heater has no DC experience (aside from a 2-year stint at Colorado State) despite having started his coaching career in 1976. He's also coached at ten different schools. There has got to be something wrong with him.


January 13th, 2009 at 5:51 PM ^

i think chitown made this point a little while back, but why would hermann be so goddamn awful. he had a bad year in 2005, but he also was the dc for our natl championship team and won the assitant of the year. it seems to me this wouldnt be thee worse hire


January 13th, 2009 at 5:58 PM ^

Probably because of our chronic inability to stop the spread, the option, or any scheme involving a mobile quarterback under Hermann. And also because of the dramatic improvement the defense showed in '06 with largely the same personnel.


January 13th, 2009 at 6:06 PM ^

i liked ron english but he didnt do a helluva lot stopping the spread either. and isnt there something to be said that the defense will be going up agaisnt a spread every single day in practice...

i also like the idea of herm and bringing with him some of that older tradition. maybe this could appease those of us (myself included) that would like to see some ties to the michigan of old.


January 13th, 2009 at 6:40 PM ^

Yes, and yet English was much better than Herrmann. Which means that Herrmann was awful.

And the problems with Herrmann were more than just our struggles against the spread. The mediocrity of '05 was mostly due to our chronic inability to close out games, the blame for which falls squarely on Herrmann's defense.

Rodriguez's hiring was a conscious decision to revamp the culture of the program. Whether or not you like Rodriguez, hiring a throwback coordinator who cut his teeth in the previous regime and may not share the philosophy of the current staff is a recipe for disaster. A head coach must have coordinators who are on the same page as him.

Having said that, I agree that this is probably just a smokescreen (that or Deinhart is talking out of his ass). I doubt Rodriguez has seriously entertained the possibility of bringing Herrmann back.


January 13th, 2009 at 7:09 PM ^

I think a lot of people have incorrect memories about how successful he was. I agree it would not be a bad hire with regard to coaching ability. Yes he had some ups and downs and some bad game plans versus the spread and individual teams, but overall he did a good job with some exceptional talent.

However, I don't think there is any way RR would hire him into the middle of a titanic regime shift/complete overhaul of how the program is run. I'll concede that RR has made some questionable PR moves recently, but hiring Herrmann would be an awful move from a pr and internal politics perspectives.

mad magician

January 13th, 2009 at 6:02 PM ^

I admittedly had never heard of Heater until this morning but I did think during the "National Championship" that Florida's safeties did a nice job bringing coverage support and laying the wood on the Oklahoma receivers. You know, kinda like Bizzaro Steve Browns. Also, Heater's an obviously great name for a DC. Very punnable

In regards to Herrmann, there's a part of me that would be infinitely curious to see how it would work. I like to think Herm's been spending the last several off-seasons watching spread offenses on an old projector and still having no idea how to stop it.


January 13th, 2009 at 6:38 PM ^

be political insanity for him. It would look like an olive branch to the old school M faction and not be proof of RR getting the best coach he can.

What has Herrmann done since leaving? The Jets did not light up the defensive world in the NFL and he has not made a name for himself in the college game either.

Despite the fact that no defense could "stop" V. Young, Hermann's and English's defenses, and Shafer's for that matter, couldn't stop any spread team with a strong run threat at QB. Juice Williams, Troy Smith, Daryl Clark, that guy from Purdue. Beating Tebow in that bowl game was more of an offensive juggernaut than a stifling defense. Henne and Hart were both healthy for the first time all season in the bowl game.

We need new blood, not retreaded former Michigan coaches that someone thinks needs another shot.

Michigan Arrogance

January 13th, 2009 at 7:38 PM ^

was guilty of one thing at the end of his M career: trying too hard. he put in too many personnel packages and started the "4-5 guys standing at the numbers every down, looking at the coaches to see who goes on the field 4 secs before the snap" -thing (phew). as a result, the D was a bit confused and hence slow to the ball (didn't play quick).

some would say he was guilty of being too conservative & playing soft coverage too much. but really, the 2 DCs since have been acused of the same thing, and what DCs don't? Herrman was also the DC when Pat Massey was a starting DE, BTW.

the other guy... nevahoid-of-im. but, as RC @ florida and utah with urban, probably can't be a bad hire. even w/o DC experience...b/c i get the sense that the DC position is just that: a coordinator. all the D coaches (and RR, i assume) contribute to the gameplan. he calls plays and coaches the secondary(?). but i don't think playcalling is a huge factor for coaches within the profession.


January 13th, 2009 at 8:05 PM ^

first impression of the heater guy is that rr wants someone who can recruit fla. i think thats the only reason he's mentioned here, since his coordinartor resume is awfully bare.


January 13th, 2009 at 8:39 PM ^

i think gil chapman was the wingback mostly in those days. my memory is that heater played sometimes tailback and also fullback [bo grew to love using a smaller, faster fullback]. also, wasn't heater #44?...this would put him on the other side of dave brown


January 13th, 2009 at 8:40 PM ^

Some knucklehead allegedly sees Herrmann somewhere in the athletic dept buildings, and soon thereafter posts a comment on another website with the brilliant deduction that he's in town being interviewed for the DC job. The rumor then gets mentioned on WTKA in A2 (with Sam Webb strenuously identifying it as a rumor with no factual basis), and now this new knucklehead says Herrmann's name is "making the rounds."

It's only making the rounds among the clueless.

Jim Herrmann left town as the most vilified — unfairly or not — Michigan coach in any sport over the last 20 years. As a loyal Lloyd Carr disciple and Michigan lifer, you would have a hard time finding any former coach more representative of the old guard. And yet some people find it plausible that Rodriguez would bring him back. It's about as likely as Beilein bringing Perry Watson back.


January 13th, 2009 at 8:50 PM ^

My buddy, a coach at the convention, said that this morning. He said that's the buzz circling about.

I did, however, ask him if he knew who this Heater guy from Florida was and he didn't know anything about it. So it's probably still just rumors.

I need a life


January 13th, 2009 at 8:54 PM ^

Good post Brian, but you missed the most important detail. Chuck Heater's name is CHUCK HEATER. Holy crap. I've never heard a better name for a defensive coordinator. We must get him.

(Plus there is the distinct possibility that he has touched Tim Tebow and you know what happens when you spend five minutes with him.)


January 13th, 2009 at 10:51 PM ^

Our glaring defect in M's defense last year was the secondary, so why not have a DC who is a secondary coach? One of the only defenses to perennially stop the spread is Florida's, so I say if we can get someone who has seen what talent and strategies it takes to do it I say lets jump on it. Doesn't hurt that this would give us an even further boost in FL recruiting.

STW P. Brabbs

January 14th, 2009 at 8:38 AM ^

Heater actually was a DC, as someone mentioned, at CSU from 1991-92. His defenses were awful, even against pillow-soft WAC competition. He has no qualifications whatsoever except 'can recruit his ever-loving Heater Balls off.' Since M doesn't need so much help recruitin' as it does schemin' and coachin', this would be a big fat wart-infested boner of a hire. [I hope you're enjoying all the reproductive imagery.]

Hermann would be a really bad 'political hire,' if this were, ya know, politics. He might be a bad hire from a football perspective too, of course, since he had a tendency to over-complicate things and from what I recall (might be flimsy) was not the easiest person to get along with. There's no reason to give a flying shit about the external politics of the hire, unless you're Mssrs. Sharp and Rosenberg [my god, if you were both S&R, you'd be a distasteful person indeed. The horror.] The internal politics, i.e. how well does Hermann gel with other coaches, could be a concern, but I don't think this would be a product of Hermann's connections with Lloyd so much as Hermann's affinity for bile.

Oh, and apparently people only remember 2005 when they think of Jim Hermann, which is really fucking shortsightedly strange. For a while, he was considered the best defensive coach in the country. He also tended to be hamstrung by D-linemen and LBs who got fatter and slower every single fucking year under our S/C program, if you ask me.


January 14th, 2009 at 11:31 AM ^

I also remember 2000, when Hermann's defense gave up 54 points to Northwestern. Ugh. And at the end of 2005, he was no longer considered the best defensive coach in the country, which is why he ended up as a linebackers coach for the Jets (I think that's right).


January 14th, 2009 at 12:10 PM ^

Everyone has to start somewhere to make a name for themselves, I think we get to caught into what a person's resume looks like. For all we know he could really excel her at Michigan or he could fail but you will never know until you take a chance on him. We have made a splash hire in RR and I am not looking for a splash hire anymore just a good coach that can bring something to the table.

Durham Blue

January 14th, 2009 at 12:20 PM ^

This is probably just a media ploy to get hits. It feels eerily similar to the coaching search 13 months ago. You hear nothing for weeks, then one day a couple semi-ridiculous names pop into headlines. I think we'll see either an internal hire or someone that is a current DC.


January 16th, 2009 at 8:02 PM ^

Chuck Heater was a tailback until his senior year when he played fullback. Chapman was the wingback. I have known Heater since his Mich playing days and he is a first class person. Who knows if he would be a good DC or not but he will represent the program extremely well and he is a tireless worker. As a person they don't come much better than Chuck Heater.