Throughout his tenure at Michigan, Jim Harbaugh has tinkered with his coaching staff.
He has cycled through 29 assistants and rearranged the organizational structure, shifting responsibilities and titles from one year to the next.
At times, he has assigned one individual to oversee multiple position groups. In other instances, he has divvied up those duties between two people, and reallocated resources in different areas.
But as Harbaugh has repeatedly reconfigured the personnel framework below him, he has never completely removed himself from the finer aspects of Michigan's operation. His willingness to delegate has only gone so far, and the offense remains in his sphere of focus.
This season, Harbaugh has already shown he will take a more active role in the team he hopes to resuscitate, after it flatlined during a tumultuous 2-4 season.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, left, watches as quarterback Cade McNamara warms up before the game against Indiana, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Bloomington, Ind. (Photo: Doug McSchooler, AP)
Following the departure of quarterbacks coach Ben McDaniels, Harbaugh decided he would step into that role at a position he played for 14 seasons in the NFL. That move was announced in conjunction with a slew of staff hires and role changes that transformed the program.
As Harbaugh bid farewell to his oldest staffers and initiated a makeover, he ushered in five Millennials as replacements and gave some of them roles they haven’t held before. Wide receivers coach Ron Bellamy and defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald are on-field assistants in the college ranks for the first time after they joined the Wolverines in January. Macdonald, whose professional rise took place in the NFL, has yet to call a play at any level.
The lack of experience is seen elsewhere among his colleagues. Sherrone Moore, who had overseen the tight ends during his first three seasons at Michigan, will supervise the offensive line — a position group where he once played but has never coached.
LOOKING AHEAD: Alabama, Georgia lead way in early look at Top 25 for 2021
REBUILDING: Clemson offense must replaces Trevor Lawrence, others next season
With this new staff, Harbaugh is betting youth will galvanize the program and set the Wolverines on a different course.
The benefits of these moves are obvious.
The salary pool dedicated to Michigan’s 10 assistants in 2021 will be $870,000 less than it was last year, when the Wolverines didn’t get much bang for their buck while surrendering more points than they scored.
The cost savings have been accompanied by a recruiting bounce and broadened the program’s appeal to prospects in future classes.
The long-term payoff for Harbaugh and the Wolverines could be substantial if the talent infusion continues.
But the risk he has absorbed with this new staff is also considerable.
Harbaugh just signed a contract extension that virtually halved his base salary and slashed the university’s buyout obligation, which signaled his job security is far from guaranteed if Michigan doesn’t rebound.
Harbaugh tacitly acknowledged the tenuous nature of his situation, when he revealed at a Michigan High School Coaches Association clinic he wouldn’t be scared of “being fired.”
On a recent in-house podcast, athletic director Warde Manuel tried to downplay the possibility.
"As a former captain, former quarterback here, he knows exactly the expectations of Michigan and Michigan football and the things that are expected in terms of success," Manuel said. "Looking forward to his leadership for years to come.”
Yet Harbaugh understands he must win now to ensure his tenure in Ann Arbor carries on beyond this year.e
If he has designs on controlling his own fate, entrusting his program to a group of young, green assistants seems counterintuitive.
Instead, it stands to reason Harbaugh will shoulder more of the burden this season as he tries to revive the Wolverines again.
The onus is on him, and he shouldn’t want it any other way.
Source: Read Full Article