ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Fifteen years ago, Mark Mangino saw something in Ed Warinner that made him go out of his way to hire him as an offensive assistant at Kansas.
A few things, actually.
Warinner was meticulous when it came to details. He emphasized the value of preparation to his offensive line. He found common bonds with the players he worked with, on as much a personal level as an athletic level.
When Mangino had the opportunity to hire Warinner a second time, in 2007 as Kansas’ offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach, he didn’t hesitate.
“He’s an interesting guy,” said Mangino, who was the Jayhawks’ coach from 2002-09. “He’s an intellectual. He sees the world in college football from a well-rounded perspective.”
Warinner enters his 34th year of coaching, and recently joined the Michigan football program. While Wolverines have not formally announced Warinner’s hire, he is listed in Michigan’s online directory as a senior analyst/offense.
Warinner will take on a role that is isolated from coaching. Analysts don’t have any hands-on coaching responsibilities. Instead, they have an advisory role. They’re prohibited from directly coaching and recruiting, but their brain power is just as valuable.
Warinner makes an unusual move, for someone with so much coaching experience. But Warinner’s role as an offensive analyst at Michigan could mean a number of things. His experience molding an offensive line could be vital for an area where the Wolverines need improvement.
Ed Warinner’s experience as an offensive line coach
When Warinner joined Kansas’ staff in 2003, the Jayhawks had gone through a number of offensive line coaches in the previous three seasons. One offensive lineman, Danny Lewis, immediately noticed that Warinner brought stability and a unique level of preparation to the offensive line at Kansas.
Warinner’s experience means he’s also worked with different offenses, including the triple option at Air Force and the spread at Kansas.
“He really helped me become a student of the game and helped me understand what, as a lineman, you can accomplish on certain plays, how you can gain leverage, and how you can counter a different defense each week,” said Lewis, who is director of donor relations and athletic programs with the Kansas Alumni Association.
“Offensive linemen tend to be more cerebral, think-it-through people. That’s how he operates. You worked with Ed Warinner, you stepped on the field being more prepared, knowing what to expect from a game plan and what to expect from that defense, and how you can counter a defense that you’ll see.”
Evolution of an analyst
Kansas didn’t have the luxury of doling out responsibilities to analysts in Mangino’s tenure as coach.
Mangino, however, has seen the role grow from being a glorified graduate assistant to a position where experience is vital, especially in major programs that have the resources to add such support staff. Warinner is one of at least four analysts in the Michigan football program.
“It’s taken a whole new light now,” Mangino said. “There are some quality football coaches in these positions. These are no longer entry-level positions. You have former head coaches, former coordinators and guys between jobs who are now doing this. The analyst position is no longer just where you break down tape and put it on a coordinator’s desk. Those days are gone. They don’t coach on the field, but they play prominent roles within a program.”
Mangino is also confident in Warinner’s move to Michigan.
“I never really dug into this with him, but I trust his decision,” Mangino said. “He knows what he’s doing and he knows where he’s going. Michigan is a very prestigious, tradition-rich program.
“If I was Jim Harbaugh, I’d utilize the talents of Ed Warinner because he brings so much to the table. He can have a great, positive impact.”