ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan has reportedly found its replacement for Jedd Fisch.
ESPN reported Monday night that Pep Hamilton has accepted Michigan’s offer to become the football program’s assistant head coach and passing coordinator, leaving his position as associate head coach, offense with the Cleveland Browns. The Akron Beacon-Journal and Cleveland.com later confirmed the report.
Hamilton will take on the responsibilities previously held by Fisch, who was Michigan’s passing game coordinator/wide receivers and quarterbacks coach in 2015 and ’16. Fisch resigned last week to become UCLA’s offensive coordinator.
Five things to know about Pep Hamilton
He isn’t new to this coaching quarterbacks thing
Hamilton began his coaching career as the quarterbacks coach at Howard in 1997 (more on that in a bit). He served in the same position with the NFL’s New York Jets (2004-05), San Francisco 49ers (2006) and Chicago Bears (2007-09) before doing the same at Stanford (2011-12).
He also was offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts (2013-15), where he worked for a second stint with QB Andrew Luck — his protégé at Stanford. Hamilton has also worked with Kyle Orton, Jay Cutler, Alex Smith, Chad Pennington and former Michigan quarterback Brian Griese at the NFL level.
Hamilton’s start didn’t come at a traditional football power
Hamilton is a Howard University graduate who was a backup for the Bisons in his playing days, but found his niche in coaching while on the sidelines at the historically black college in Washington, D.C. From the Indianapolis Star:
Short on talent but long on drive, Hamilton served as a pseudo coach, recruiting the player, Ted White, who would essentially confine him to the sidelines, then tutoring White so diligently he became a black college All-American and author of a school-record 92 touchdown passes. Howard’s coaches saw it early: Hamilton was going to be a coaching star.
Hamilton almost didn’t go into coaching
As his graduation from Howard approached in 1997, Hamilton had accepted a job to work in the corporate world, at Bank of America. (He holds a business degree from Howard, and won the football team’s scholar-athlete award in 1995 and ’96). An assistant at Howard retired, and then-Howard coach Steve Wilson asked Hamilton to join his staff as a quarterbacks coach.
Hamilton joins an NFL-laden staff
Hamilton will be one of seven assistants/coordinators on Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Michigan who have NFL experience, either as a player or as a coach; Michigan’s only coaches who do not have NFL experience are defensive coordinator Don Brown, who has been coaching at the college level since 1982; and linebackers coach Chris Partridge, who has coached at the high school and college levels.
“Pep” isn’t Hamilton’s given name
It’s Alfonza. As the Indianapolis Star detailed in September of 2015, Hamilton was so hyperactive as a child that his mother gave him the nickname “Pep.”
The Wolverines who have plenty of high-energy coaches on staff, so adjusting should not be a problem for Hamilton. In fact, Michigan’s head coach once declared, “I don’t take vacations. I don’t get sick. I don’t observe major holidays. I’m a jackhammer.”
And though the hiring of Hamilton hasn’t been formally announced by Michigan, it appears his newest pupil is pleased with the move. Shortly after ESPN’s Adam Schefter posted the report on Twitter, Michigan QB Wilton Speight posted his own reaction.
— Wilton Speight (@WiltonSpeight) January 9, 2017