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Michigan's assistant coaches collaborate on play calling, but fourth-year coach Jim Harbaugh has the final say.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, not Pep Hamilton, has final say on offense

Rachel Lenzi

During the week, Land of 10 reporters following the Wolverines answer questions on the minds of Michigan fans. Submit a question or suggest a topic by sending a tweet here to Rachel Lenzi or here to Kevin Goheen. Check back Monday through Friday as we answer the Michigan Question of the Day. Go here to see our previous answers.

Is Pep Hamilton the offensive play caller? — Zo Eastwood, via Facebook.

Pep Hamilton is Michigan’s passing game coordinator, but he is not the program’s primary play caller. Jim Harbaugh is in charge of Michigan’s offense. The assistants have a say, but Harbaugh has the final say.

Here’s how the play-calling process works, according to Hamilton: Michigan wide receivers coach Jim McElwain, offensive line coach Ed Warinner, running backs coach Jay Harbaugh, tight ends coach Sherrone Moore and offensive analysts Ron Prince and Ben McDaniels make suggestions to Harbaugh.

“He gives us the thumbs up or the thumbs down,” Hamilton said Sunday.

That should put to rest any questions anyone has about Hamilton calling the plays.

This is Harbaugh’s team, and he has to establish a chain of command this fall. He oversaw a staff last season that stumbled when it came to play calling, and an offense that struggled with a rotation of quarterbacks because of injuries and an ineffective offensive line. As a result, Michigan averaged 5.18 yards per play in 2017 (ninth in the Big Ten Conference) and only 348.9 yards per game, ninth in the Big Ten and 105th nationally.

There were also too many coordinators and not enough assistant coaches. Hamilton was one of three assistants with “coordinator” in his title, along with Tim Drevno (offensive coordinator) and Greg Frey (tight ends/tackles/run game coordinator).

Streamlining the coaching responsibilities and maintaining a play-calling hierarchy should help the offense be productive. Hamilton is the only coordinator on offense this year, but he’s not the offensive coordinator. He’s optimistic about the revamped coaching staff and its role in the play calling.

“When you look at the group as a whole, we have some guys with some game experience,” Hamilton said. “I feel really good about the overall continuity of our staff and all the experience that we have and all the different ideas, and how we were able to input the things we feel like are going to be necessary for us to be a good offense. Physically tough, but a Jim Harbaugh team is always mentally tough.”

Read more answers to questions about the Michigan Wolverines here.