Harbaugh Values Youth, Recruiting in 2021 Coaching Staff Overhaul

Something was off last season. And I’m not just talking about the pandemic and all of the issues that come along with that. There seemed to just be some bad mojo and chemistry throughout the Michigan football program. A disconnect that needed fixing.

After having half of the staff in the 50+ club, the head coach cut ties with a lot of familiar names to make way for a youth movement. The addition of five new millenial coaches brought the coaching staff’s average age down from 46 to 36 (thanks for the math, @SBell021).

Yes, this youth movement will delute the staff’s collected coaching experience but where they lack experience the new group brings in energy, new ideas, and the personalities to connect better with both the players and recruits. More juice and connections on the recruiting trail will allow Michigan to compete for more highly ranked recruits in the most fertile football talent pools in the country.

Props are in order to Jim Harbaugh for once again evolving and trying to make the proper changes to fit today’s game. He dipped into the NFL, two Big Ten divisional rivals, and even an in-state high school to remold his coaching staff.

Full Coaching Staff

  • HC/QB: Jim Harbaugh
  • OC: Josh Gattis
  • Co-OC/OL: Sherrone Moore
  • RB: Mike Hart
  • WR: Ron Bellamy
  • STC/TE: Jay Harbaugh
  • DC: Mike Macdonald
  • Co-DC/CB: Maurice Linguist
  • DL: Shaun Nua
  • LB: Brian Jean-Mary
  • S: George Helow

While there are plenty of talented prospects in the northeast, it’s no competition compared to those southern states. The hire of Mo Linguist and the retainment of Brian Jean-Mary should give Michigan the “in” in both Florida and Texas that everyone has been looking for out of Harbaugh’s coaching staffs.

Michigan now has at least 8 impact recruiters on its staff in both Harbaugh’s, Gattis, Moore, Jean-Mary, Linguist, Hart, and Bellamy. All of which have connections throughout the country, including in the most important talent pools.

Who’s Out:

  • Don Brown
    • Was: Defensive Coordinator
    • Now: Arizona Wildcats Defensive Coordinator
    • Age: 65
  • Ed Warinner
    • Was: Offensive Line Coach
    • Now: Unknown
    • Age: 59
  • Mike Zordich
    • Was: Cornerbacks Coach
    • Now: Unknown
    • Age: 57
  • Bob Shoop
    • Was: Safeties Coach
    • Now: Unknown
    • Age: 54
  • Ben McDaniels
    • Was: Quarterbacks Coach
    • Now: Unknown
    • Age: 40

Who’s Changed:

  • Jim Harbaugh
    • Was: Head Coach
    • Now: Head Coach & Quarterbacks Coach
    • Age: 57
  • Sherrone Moore
    • Was: Tight Ends Coach
    • Now: Co-Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach
    • Age: 34
  • Jay Harbaugh
    • Was: Special Teams Coordinator/Running Backs Coach
    • Now: Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends Coach
    • Age: 31

Who’s In:

  • Mike Macdonald
    • Was: Baltimore Ravens Linebackers Coach
    • Now: Defensive Coordinator
    • Age: 33
  • Maurice Linguist
    • Was: Dallas Cowboys Defensive Backs Coach
    • Now: Co-Defensive Coordinator/Cornerbacks Coach
    • Age: 36
  • Mike Hart
    • Was: Indiana Hoosiers Running Backs Coach
    • Now: Running Backs Coach
    • Age: 34
  • Ron Bellamy
    • Was: West Bloomfield (MI) Head Coach
    • Now: Wide Receivers Coach
    • Age: 39
  • George Helow
    • Was: Maryland Terrapins Special Teams Coordinator/Inside Linebackers Coach
    • Now: Safeties Coach
    • Age: 32

Best Move: Hiring Mike Hart

This is the right and mature move from Jim Harbaugh. There was pretty well known, let’s call it a disagreement, between Harbaugh and Hart back in 2007. Plenty believed that is why Hart wasn’t hired to the open role when Tyrone Wheatley headed back to the NFL sideline in 2017. But the position instead went to Jay Harbaugh, who has been a fantastic recruiter but hasn’t quite developed the talent as well as possible.

Enter Hart, who has been a high quality running backs coach at every stop on his coaching resume, which includes Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, Syracuse and Indiana. Add in what he’ll bring in terms of love and passion for the program, disdain for rivals, and recruiting acumen, and he’s everything this coaching staff needed.

Boldest Move: Replacing Ed Warinner

A year after putting four starting offensive lineman into the NFL Draft and another expected to go in the first two rounds in this year’s draft, Harbaugh made the move to move on from the highly regarded Warinner as his offensive line coach.

Thanks to replacing four said starters and dealing with injuries to its tackles, the 2020 offensive line struggled quite a bit. I don’t believe many people expected the line to be world beaters but the development of some of the highly rated young talent wasn’t ready to compete. I’m not sure if that was a big part of it or Harbaugh just wanted to fully steer into an elite recruiting staff. Either way, this is bold. Warinner could recruit pretty well himself.

But he may not be gone for sure. According to The Wolverine’s Chris Balas, he could possibly stick around in another role or make the jump to the NFL ($). If he somehow stays with the program, that’s a win-win.

Oh, and don’t forget his son transferred in last year from Michigan State.

Biggest Question Mark: Retaining Shaun Nua

When it was known Harbaugh was returning and big changes were coming to the coaching staff, especially on defense, the first name most thought would be replaced was Nua. Recruiting hasn’t been great on the defensive line and performance wasn’t stellar either. It’s been a clear drop off since Greg Mattison left town.

But clearly, things aren’t quite as bad on the inside as they may seem on the outside as Harbaugh decided to keep him on staff. Nua clearly fits the culture Harbaugh is trying to create and is a good (better) fit in Macdonald’s defense than Don Brown’s. We’ll see if it was the right decision.

The (Rumored) One’s That Got Away

  • Tim Banks, Penn State Co-Defensive Coordinator
  • Joe Moorhead, Oregon Offensive Coordinator
  • Jesse Minter, Vanderbilt Defensive Coordinator
  • Christian Robinson, Florida Linebackers Coach
  • Steve Clinkscale, Kentucky Wildcats Defensive Backs Coach
  • Derek Mason, Auburn Defensive Coordinator
  • Will Muschamp, Alabama Defensive Analyst
  • Tom Herman, former Texas Head Coach

What do you think of Jim Harbaugh’s coaching moves? Think this will help Michigan get back on track? What’s your favorite and least favorite move? Let us know in the comment section below!

Photo Credit: NBC/The Office