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Will Jim McElwain be the next brilliant hire by Jim Harbaugh?

Michigan’s hiring of Jim McElwain calculated move by Wolverines

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. Check back Monday through Friday as we answer the Michigan Question of the Day. Go here to see our previous answers. 

Does the Jim McElwain hire remind you of the Don Brown hire, a true college coach without ties to Jim Harbaugh?

These two hires are different. Like comparing, well … offense and defense.

On the surface, Michigan’s hire of Jim McElwain as its wide receivers coach doesn’t remind me of the hire of Don Brown as defensive coordinator at all. But a reader raised a good point when he mentioned that, like Brown, McElwain has no direct tie to fourth-year coach Jim Harbaugh.

Harbaugh hired Brown with a philosophy in mind: Get the best of the best. He probably did the same when hiring McElwain, though some would argue that the latter’s final days at Florida were less than stellar.

Here’s the common thread: Harbaugh is keen at identifying talent and investing in it. Brown is a great example. McElwain has the opportunity to become another example.

Harbaugh makes meticulous decisions with his coaching hires. McElwain is regarded as a solid game planner who can negate other teams’ strengths and who can manage a game. Those are things he did well as Alabama’s offensive coordinator and Colorado State’s coach.

Brown came to Michigan in December 2015 after three seasons as Boston College’s defensive coordinator. Boston College’s 3-9 record in Brown’s final season overshadowed the fact that the Eagles boasted the nation’s top total defense (254.3 yards per game). It helped that Brown is also a fantastic recruiter, and his intensity is unmatched. So is his authenticity.

Harbaugh gave that vote of confidence to Brown in the winter of 2015. He gave the same vote of confidence with the hire of McElwain.

Some consider McElwain’s reign at Florida an aberration. McElwain moves into a better situation in Ann Arbor. Michigan has a quarterback competition, it has better athletes and skill players, and returns almost all of its wide receivers, including Tarik Black and Donovan Peoples-Jones.

It’s a matter of finding out where McElwain truly fits on this staff — and where everyone else fits after Michigan completes a “self-scout period” of its offense.

But if Harbaugh’s hunch is correct on McElwain, there may be a lot of satisfied Michigan fans later this year.

(Also, to clarify: McElwain has some NFL experience under his belt. He coached quarterbacks in 2006 with the Oakland Raiders.)

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