good offensin' [Chris Cook]
So Michigan just hired Jim McElwain to coach football in some capacity. That capacity is apparently offensive coordinator and WR coach. This doesn't make much sense to me. McElwain becomes Michigan's fourth offensive coordinator, more or less, along with Harbaugh, Drevno, and Hamilton. He may be second amongst equals, for whatever that's worth.
McElwain was a notoriously bad recruiter at Florida, failing to crack the top ten once during his tenure and finishing no better than fifth in the SEC, and that was with a steady stream of Questionable Dudes that came highly rated but had seen various other teams back off. Those questionable dudes saw their super powers combine into a credit card scam that got a tenth of the team suspended last year. If you were to go back and re-rank recruiting classes by removing confirmed knuckleheads, Florida would plummet towards the nether reaches of the SEC.
Meanwhile, McElwain had a public meltdown about an internet joke, twice, made an unsupported assertion he had received death threats that almost got him fired for cause, and marketed his own barbecue sauce in the midst of a disastrous, tenure-ending football season.
Whatever offensive aptitudes he seemed to demonstrate at Alabama and Colorado State evaporated in a haze of ineptitude in Florida. Spencer Hall:
Statistically, Jim McElwain turned 2017 Florida into 2017 Rutgers. There is no evidence McElwain or the offensive staff can develop a quarterback or build an offensive line or tell a wideout how to run a route. There’s actually less and less evidence the offense is even designed competently. The big highlight—maybe the only real morbid but funny highlight, really—of watching Gary Danielson this season call a long string of SEC blowouts has been him literally correcting play design for Florida on the screen. He does this when not openly laughing at false starts and procedural penalties. It’s a full to-do list when watching Florida football, and just getting through half of it should earn him an Emmy.
Yours truly surveying the devastation after the opener:
Watch Florida left tackle Martez Ivey start yelling at the left guard on the Furbush touchdown before the play is even over:
You! Come over here! I know you're in the middle of a football play, but look upon the destruction your incompetence has wrought! Feel in your very bones the touchdown you have given up and shall never recover from! Eat at Arby's!
Also here is Florida's quarterback getting hammered on a rollout that Michigan rushed three on.
That's some dystopian business right there, and we should slow our roll a little given the evident dysfunction of the opponent. How much? I don't know.
McElwain doing well at Alabama proves little; having a decent offense at Colorado State because five-star Dee Hart needed a landing spot and rushed for 6.6 YPC doesn't prove a whole lot more. What success Florida did have under McElwain was an artifact of a trash SEC East and a defense he inherited from Will Muschamp.
On the positive side, McElwain does have a lengthy tenure as a collegiate WR coach stretching from 1987 to 2005, with the odd QB or special teams duty thrown in. And he probably has some great stories about John L Smith, who he coached under for five years at Louisville and Michigan State.
The best thing about this hire is that it doesn't really matter since it's Harbaugh's offense anyway. While McElwain comes in with a very Greg Robinson track record—aging successes and recent debacles paired with press interactions that make him seem slightly insane—he's not going to be put in charge of half the team and subsequently told to run something he's completely unfamiliar with. But neither is he likely to move the needle in recruiting or help organize the team. He'll seem like a brilliant WR coach because Michigan's WRs are about to get a lot better by virtue of not being freshmen, in the same way Ron English was a god until he wasn't.
Maybe once released from the prison of being a head coach he's actually a good offensive coordinator—but Michigan doesn't need tactical help. They need someone who can throw a ball straight and an offensive line that doesn't get that guy and his backup murdered. They do need a skill position coach and McElwain sort of fits there. He seems more like a duplicate of a duplicate, and he is very hard to take seriously after his year of baffling press conferences and Keystone Kops coaching.
He's a tenth assistant, and therefore more of a missed opportunity than a burgeoning disaster. And since every other thing with a track record immediately defies it when it arrives to do Michigan football things (except Don Brown, God bless Don Brown), maybe he'll be brilliant.