ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan is likely in the market for a new quarterbacks coach.
Fox Sports reported Monday that passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach/wide receivers coach Jedd Fisch will depart Michigan after two seasons to join UCLA’s staff as its offensive coordinator. Michigan has not commented on the report of Fisch’s departure, which comes three days after the No. 6 Wolverines’ 33-32 loss to No. 11 Florida State in the Orange Bowl in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Person close to situation confirms reports that Michigan's Jedd Fisch is UCLA's top target for offensive coord and hiring could be imminent.
— Ben Bolch (@latbbolch) January 2, 2017
While some credited Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh with the resurgence in the Wolverines’ quarterbacks, Fisch played a pivotal role in grooming Jake Rudock in 2015 and Wilton Speight in 2016.
Rudock, after two seasons at Iowa in which he threw for at least 2,300 yards, had his most productive collegiate season as a graduate transfer at Michigan in 2015. Working with Fisch, Rudock passed for 3,017 yards, and became the second Michigan player to throw for at least 3,000 yards, joining John Navarre (3,331 yards).
Fisch praised Rudock for his meticulousness; the joke among players was that Rudock’s nickname was “Dad” and that he basically split his time between his graduate studies and football.
Speight followed suit, with a similar meticulous pattern set by Rudock, and Speight was praised by Fisch after he beat out transfer John O’Korn for the starting quarterback job before the 2016 season. While Speight wasn’t as athletic or mobile as Rudock, he was consistent. Speight threw for 2,538 yards and 18 touchdowns in 12 games and was intercepted seven times.
Under previous head coach Brady Hoke, Michigan didn’t have a designated quarterbacks coach. In 2014, that fell under Doug Nussmeier’s responsibilities as offensive coordinator. Yet as a former quarterback, Harbaugh took a great measure in emphasizing that aspect of the offense.(Quarterbacks understand quarterbacks, right?)
Fisch also brought to Michigan a coaching pedigree cultivated at both the college and professional football levels, and fell into the mold of Harbaugh’s staff, the bulk of whom have some form of professional playing or coaching experience.
Fisch joined Michigan’s staff in January 2015. Before that, Fisch spent two seasons as offensive coordinator with the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars, and he has coached at the college and NFL levels since 1999.
This season, Michigan was sixth in passing offense in the Big Ten (2,756); in 2015, it was fourth in the Big Ten (3,090 yards).
Fisch’s anticipated departure comes two days after a report that Michigan will give defensive coordinator Don Brown a five-year extension. It also comes less than a year after Michigan and Fisch agreed to a contract extension that would pay Fisch $1.45 million through 2018.
Michigan’s pattern in hiring replacements is to pursue the best, and to pay its coaches well (Harbaugh has a budget for $4 million to $5 million for assistants), so anticipate Harbaugh to make a splashy hire. TheWolverine.com reported that Michigan is expected to pursue Greg Roman, who was fired in September as the offensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills. Roman also worked on Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers staff from 2011 to 2014.
Michigan wide receiver commit Tarik Black, who was heavily recruited by Fisch, said the coach’s departure won’t affect his decision.
“I wish him nothing but the best. There are some really good people at UCLA. He’s a great guy, but it doesn’t affect me any big way. I made my decision. And I didn’t make it based off of one coach.”