ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Some would point to the squandered leads as a factor in Michigan’s 8-5 finish. Some would point to the turnover at quarterback. Some would point to the offense simply being mediocre.
There are plenty of reasons for Michigan’s run-of-the-mill season. But there’s also a lack of stability within the program. Particularly stability within Jim Harbaugh’s coaching staff.
Glenn “Shemy” Schembechler III remembers the continuity of his father’s coaching staff during Bo Schembechler’s tenure as Michigan’s coach from 1969-89. A coaching staff that remains intact, the younger Schembechler said, will be vital to Michigan’s long-term health.
“There’s a couple things Jim’s going to focus on going forward, including trying to maintain a level of consistency with the staff,” said Schembechler, a former college assistant and former NFL scout who now owns GES Advisory Company, a Columbus-based consulting firm for prospective college football players. “We don’t have that right now, and that plays a big role in how we develop consistency.”
Seven assistant coaches have left during Harbaugh’s three seasons. Stability in the coaching staff, Schembechler said, will be key for the Wolverines if they want develop players for the long-term future of the program, as well as for long-term development in preparation for professional football.
Stability also will be key in recruiting and networking, when it comes to developing relationships with prospective players, their families and their high school coaches.
|Coaches||Position at Michigan||Years||New position, school|
|D.J. Durkin||Defensive coordinator||2015||Head coach, Maryland|
|Jedd Fisch||Passing game coordinator||2015-2016||Offensive coordinator, UCLA|
|Greg Jackson||Defensive backs coach||2015||Safeties coach, Dallas Cowboys|
|John Baxter||Special teams coach||2015||Special teams coordinator/ |
tight ends coach, USC
|Tyrone Wheatley||Running backs coach||2015-2016||Running backs coach, |
|Brian Smith||Safeties coach||2016-2017||Defensive coordinator, Rice|
|Greg Frey||Tackles/tight ends coach, |
run game coordinator
|2017||Offensive line, |
*Frey’s hire hasn’t been formally announced
This may not be a one-size-fits-all philosophy, however. At Alabama, Nick Saban has to replace assistant coaches on his staff just about every year, but Saban also has a strategy in hiring assistants.
“All of them have worked for us before,” Saban told SEC Country earlier this year. “They know what to expect.”
Ohio State has had six assistants move on from the program in the last three seasons, but has continued its success; the Buckeyes are 35-5 in that three-season span.
There are outliers who have called for Harbaugh’s firing, but Schembechler dismisses that as an unreasonable demand.
“Who are you going to get?” Schembechler said. “Jim understands what needs to happen at Michigan, more than anyone else.”
But, he added. “Jim has to address continuity on the staff. That’s the most important thing to do. You, as a head coach, you are only as good as your staff. You have to hire the best coaches and have them stay.”
The son of the legendary Michigan coach believes his father, Bo, would give his former quarterback the same advice.
“Don’t let your coaches go anywhere,” Shemy Schembechler said. “If you bring them in, make it perfectly clear that, ‘You’re not going to go anywhere.’ You will pay them, and you will know everything about a coach’s background before you bring them in.
“You have to have guys who are willing to commit to the future of the program.”