ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton immediately erased any questions about his title and role in the Wolverines offense.
His responsibilities haven’t increased. They haven’t diminished, either. Right now, fourth-year coach Jim Harbaugh has the final say when it comes to Michigan’s play calling.
“Coach Harbaugh, it’s his offense,” Hamilton said Sunday. “Everything goes through Coach. It starts and ends with coach Harbaugh.”
Harbaugh’s offensive staff crafts what the Wolverines will do on offense. Michigan, Hamilton said, will take a all-hands-on-deck approach to its play-calling duties as it prepares for its season opener Sept. 1 at Notre Dame.
“We all process things together,” Hamilton said. “Coach [Jim] McElwain, Coach [Ed] Warinner, [offensive analysts] Ron Prince and Ben McDaniels, along with Jay Harbaugh and Sherrone [Moore]. We work well together and it’s all a collaborative effort to present Coach Harbaugh with some ideas of things that we like. He give us the ‘yes’ or the ‘no.’
“We make suggestions to Coach Harbaugh, and he gives us the thumbs up or the thumbs down.”
The collaborative approach will be a positive for the Wolverines, whose total offense dipped from fourth in the Big Ten Conference in 2016 to ninth in the conference in 2017 under former offensive coordinator Tim Drevno.
Where Michigan’s offense ranked in the Big Ten
|Season||Scoring offense||Pass offense||Rush offense||Total offense|
|2016||1st, 40.3 points||7th, 212.0 yards||2nd, 212.9 yards||4th, 424.9 yards|
|2017||8th (tie) 25.2 points||11th, 171.2 yards||4th, 177.7 yards||9th, 348.9 yards|
When Drevno left Michigan to become USC’s running backs coach in February, it created a hole in Michigan’s coaching staff. Would the Wolverines either hire a new coordinator or appoint from within? The Wolverines have plenty of experience on staff, from Hamilton, who has coached offenses at the college and NFL level, to former Florida coach McElwain (Michigan’s wide receivers coach) and former Ohio State offensive coordinator Warinner (Michigan’s offensive line coach).
But as spring practices close this week and the Wolverines prepare to head to France, Michigan hasn’t officially named an offensive coordinator. There was some speculation last week as to Hamilton’s oversight of the offense, when McElwain hinted that Hamilton was at the helm.
“I came in to learn and learn what Pep’s teaching and to help him in any way I can,” McElwain said. “He’s kind of running it. I’m just here to help him.”
That’s a little different from how Hamilton sees it.
“Just a little,” Hamilton said, with a chuckle. “We all work together here. We collaborate our thoughts.
“We’ve had our open lines of communication throughout, and Coach Harbaugh, of course, dictates what we do and what we’re working on.”