Michigan is the 10th place Ed Warinner can list on his college coaching resume he started building in 1984. But it’s the job he had two jobs ago for five seasons that immediately stands out now that he’s running the offensive line for Jim Harbaugh.
Warinner was on Urban Meyer’s staff as the offensive coordinator from 2012-16. The first three seasons he shared the role with current Texas coach Tom Herman while also coaching the offensive line. They won a national title in 2014 but Warinner and the Buckeyes parted ways after the 2016 season that ended with a 31-0 loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff. He coached the offensive line at Minnesota last season before Harbaugh hired him in January.
As odd a combination as it may seem, it’s part of the profession.
“Coaching is what it is. You go places, you coach, you give them everything you have, you do the best job you can,” said Warinner on Thursday when he met the Michigan media for the first time. “It’s a very high-stressed job. It’s very high-stressed on the families, the coaches. Sometimes you just need a change to re-energize, refresh. Sometimes those things happen. All I know is everywhere I’ve been I’ve loved it, I’ve worked hard, I’ve given them all I’ve had and I’m going to do the same thing here.”
Michigan caught grief on social media when it announced Warinner’s hiring on March 8 as the replacement to Tim Drevno and Greg Frey, who shared duties along the offensive line last season. Warinner has coached 13 players who have gone on to play in the NFL since 2007, one of the facts that Michigan used in a recruiting poster featuring Warinner. Since a lot of those players were from Ohio State, however, criticism from Columbus followed.
“It’s not personal. There’s rivalries,” Warinner said.
Ohio State won’t be the only former employer Warinner will see on the opposite sideline this season. He coached at Michigan State in 1985-86 as a grad assistant, and was at Notre Dame for two seasons (2010-11) before going to Ohio State.
“When we walk in the tunnel at Notre Dame, that’s going to be intriguing. I coached there for two years. And when we go into the last [road] game, that’ll be intriguing,” said Warinner in reference to the season opener in South Bend and the finale in Columbus. “When we go to the team in East Lansing, that will be, too, because I started my coaching career there. I coached there for two years as a graduate assistant. Jogging in those stadiums will be kind of interesting on this side. It’ll be fun, and I look forward to that.”
The fact that Warinner has had success wherever he has coached has made an immediate impression on his new players. Michigan’s offense was ranked No. 105 in the country last season in total yards. Quarterbacks Wilton Speight, John O’Korn and Brandon Peters were sacked a combined 36 times. A lot of the blame, whether deserved wholly or not, was put on the offensive line.
It’s Warinner’s job now to fix the unit.
“When he first got here he talked to us how at one point his five starting offensive linemen at Ohio State all started the first game of their rookie season in the NFL. That excites you a little bit,” said redshirt junior tackle Jon Runyan. “He let us know early on he’s full Michigan.”