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Everyone Out of the Pool: How the Michigan Coaching Search Affects Michigan's Current Coaches

Everyone Out of the Pool

With Lloyd Carr's pending departure the majority of attention regarding the Michigan coaching search will focus on who the new head man will be. However, one of the biggest dynamic shifts will be who stays and who goes among the assistant coaches. Michigan has, depending on your point of view, either a very deep or very shallow coaching pool. Certain coaches are legitimate up and coming stars (QB coach Scott Loeffler). Others are being escorted out the door faster than a two day old can of opened tuna, in July (DeBord). But there are a number of coaches you may not know much about whose return or departure will have a significant affect on Michigan's future.


Mike DeBord - Offensive Coordinator

No chance. If Brian's recent post on DeBord's tenure at CMU doesn't convince you he's gone, the OSU game should. DeBord is one of the most confusing coaches on Michigan's staff. When faced with a challenge, more often than not he delivers 30+ points and a Michigan win. When Michigan plays a team like Northwestern or Iowa, all of a sudden Michigan is incapable of exploiting an opposition weakness. It's maddening as a fan.

The lack of consistency and the inability to fashion an even remotely rational game plan against the majority of Michigan's opponents means he's gone.

Scott Loeffler - Quarterbacks Coach

Loeffler's been the golden boy around Michigan for the last few years and he's a proven recruiter. He recruited Chad Henne. He recruited Ryan Mallett. He turned John Navarre into one of Michigan's greatest quarterbacks (Statistically anyway. Navarre was 1-2 against OSU [HT to tbaeckl, for pointing out my error.]). He's a coach with a very bright future.

However, Chad Henne regressed in his senior season. Ryan Mallett looked every bit the freshman he was this season. Batted balls continue to be a problem for Michigan quarterbacks.

Like so many of Michigan's coaches, Loeffler's fate will be determined by who takes over at Michigan. Les Miles has had no trouble recruiting five star quarterbacks and development hasn't seemed to be a problem (see: Russell, Jamarcus). But Loeffler's quarterbacks seem to fit Miles offenses relatively well.

In the event a spread offensive coach like Rich Rodriguez takes over (pure speculation, folks) my guess is Loeffler's gone. But as one of the brighter stars on the sidelines for Michigan, he's even money to be retained, and better than that if Miles comes to Ann Arbor.

Erik Campbell - Wide Receiver/Assistant Head Coach

Campbell is in his thirteenth year with Michigan as a coach. He's paid his dues. He's pounded the pavement as a recruiter. He's turned out some of the best receivers Michigan's ever seen. He played for Michigan at the same time Les Miles was coaching there in 1987. He played for Bo.

Campbell's a Midwest guy with solid recruiting chops and a history with the school. I can't see him going anywhere, especially when under his tutelage Michigan has had Amani Toomer, Braylon Edwards, Jason Avant, Mario Manningham and Adrian Arrington turn into legitimate stars. On top of that consider he's also put Mercury Hayes, Tai Streets, Marcus Knight, David Terrell, Marquis Walker, and (everyone's favorite blogger) Ronald Bellamy into the NFL.

Recruiting wise Campbell's no slouch. His recent credited recruitment efforts include Adam Patterson, Brandon Graham, and Greg Matthews. Not too shabby. I'd be shocked if he was handed his walking papers, especially with Arrington (and possibly Manningham [ed note: Mario is pure speculation on my part]) leaning towards returning to Ann Arbor.

Good coach. Good guy. Michigan man. Unless he gets an OC or HC offer somewhere, count on Michigan retaining him.

Andy Moeller - Offensive Line Coach

Gone, goneity,gonegonegonegone. On paper it doesn't seem to make sense to revel in the canning of a coordinator who can claim some level of credit for Jake Long, David Baas, and Tony Pape. But that's why they play the game. The Michigan line was a disaster this year despite having three returning starters and 5 players with starting experience returning. The regressions of Steve Schilling, Adam Kraus, and Justin Boren can only be blamed on injuries for so long. On one hand you can say Moeller's lines have produced 1,000 yard rushers in Chris Perry and Mike Hart. On the other hand, you can point out those 1,000 yard seasons were more the result of the running back's awesomeness rather than any semblance of competence on the line.

The most damning evidence is the photo below.

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Fred Jackson - Running Backs Coach

Initially, I thought Jackson's return will more than likely hinge on who the new HC is. However, now that he's interviewing for the Duke job and likely any one of the multiple positions that recently opened up, he's probably on his way out anyway. If Miles takes the reigns, Jackson is likely gone (per MgoBlog):

Jackson recruits Louisiana and is likely to be one of the primary sources of all the "Loose Morals" talk. Meanwhile, current LSU RBs coach Larry Porter has been with Miles since Oklahoma State and appears to be a killer recruiter. Last year he hauled in a bumper crop of Texans and Lousianans, including five-star coup Terrance Tolliver. Other than Mike Debord, Jackson is the assistant least likely to be retained by Miles.

So there's that.

However, if it doesn't end up being Miles, Jackson's got a job as long as he wants it. When you consider he's presided over Hart, Perry, Biakabutuka, Wheatley, and Thomas his resume speaks for itself. Michigan has never lacked a top tier back under his tenure and his recruiting cannot be questioned (see: Hart, Mike). White Lighting, aka Sam McGuffie, is reportedly very close with Jackson and committed largely based on that relationship. If Jackson's gone Michigan will likely lose both committed running backs (McGuffie and Cox). Recruits aren't a reason to retain anyone, however Jackson's recruiting is tough to question.

If Miles takes the job, I'm inclined to follow Brian's lead and wish Jackson well. If Miles stays in Baton Rouge, there's chance Jackson sticks around based on his 16 years of service and Carr still being on staff in Schembechler Hall. However, it sounds more and more like Jackson's looking to move up, so I'd put his sticking around at around 30%.


Ron English - Defensive Coordinator

Tough call on whether he's gone or not. I'm inclined to give English the boot, especially after the Wisconsin game, or the Northwestern game, or the Oregon game, or the Appalachian State game, et al. While I acknowledge Michigan wasn't nearly as talented as we believed on defense this year, the defensive scheming this season was terrible. Against Appalachian State and Oregon, Michigan stunted itself out of position and left both Qbs free to run a will. Unless a coach was trying to give the game away (Illinois), Michigan has struggled all season.

I can't endorse a coach whose players turn into Smurfs at the site of a mobile quarterback. I can't believe he'd be retained when Michigan was crushed by a Wisconsin rushing attack that didn't have its starting tailback! In his defense, 2006 was one of the more dominant showings by any defense in Michigan history. At least until the 12th and 13th games of the season. However, the things that have traditionally killed Michigan under Carr's tenure have not changed in anyway under English.

My commentary aside, English is a well thought of coach. Prior to accepting the DC position at Michigan he had accepted the defensive backs coach position with the Chicago Bears. His players love him and are the first to defend him from criticism. It's hard to blame entirely for the defensive collapse as the defensive line (save Terrance Taylor) never lived up to its billing, Sean Crable was more DE than LB, and the remaining LBs had never played prior to this year.

If Miles comes to Ann Arbor there's a good chance English could be retained. Miles current DC Bo Pelini is the odds on choice to replace him (if he doesn't take the Nebraska job first), so Miles would be short some crucial staff. Even so, I'd expect Miles to replace his DC with someone other than English. In the event another candidate such as Brian Kelly gets the HC job, I think English is out the door even sooner to prevent a potential usurper in his midst.

Steve Strippling - Defensive Line Coach

Real question mark. Terrance Taylor was good this year but no one else was. Tim Jamison and will Johnson were invisible for large chunks of the year and none of Michigan's backups came into their own or managed to soak up any real contributory minutes.

Unlike last year, the line was eaten alive on running plays. There are some mitigating factors to consider: 1) with the unmitigated disaster at Linebacker it's hard to really judge the line on rushing play; 2) coming into the year only Taylor was a starter, and he benefited greatly from having Alan Branch next to him; 3) Brandon Graham played most of the year hurt and as a DE for the first time; and 4) the line was either a bench warmer for the last two seasons or a sophomore or younger. Not exactly easy trying making a Mercedes out of balsa wood and elmers glue.

Strippling has an excellent resume. He actually turned Michigan State into a vicious pass rushing group. In his two seasons at Michigan his 2006 group was one of the most dominant groups in recent memory. There's just not enough information on which to base a decision on his abilities. I wouldn't be surprised either way if he was or wasn't retained. If Miles comes in, I think he stays.

Steve Szabo - Linebackers Coach

Yes, Shawn Crable was still undisciplined this year. Yes, no matter how much we prayed Chris Graham and Obi Ezeh never turned into Dan Connor or Lauranitis. Yes, the linebackers caused the most cursing and throwing of objects of any position on Michigan's team this year.

All that said, any coach that gets rid of Szabo would be crazy.

Szabo has zeroed in on top linebacker recruits and gets credit for the commitments of JB Fitzgerald and Marcus Weatherspoon. Actual linebackers. People we need. Szabo's got proven NFL connections that recruits love and actually managed to turn Obi Ezeh into a mediocre linebacker by the end of the year. Remember, Ezeh had NEVER played linebacker prior to this spring.

His greatest achievement was David Harris. Prior to Szabo's arrival, Harris was a disaster at linebacker. Talented, but lost. Within a year, Harris was a Butkus finalist and defensive MVP. Szabo's a proven NFL level coach who's proving himself to be an excellent recruiter. With at least two 4 star LB recruits in his clutches and shouldering an impossible job of fashioning functioning linebackers from nothing this year with limited success, I don't see how you can get rid of him.

Vance Bedford - Secondary Coach

Somewhat of a wildcard. A former Michigan DB coach and a fairly accomplished defensive backs coach in the NFL, Bedford got his shot as a defensive coordinator with the Oklahoma State Cowboys from 2005-2006. In 2005 Oklahoma State was 95th in total defense and 107th in rushing defense. They improved to 89th and 72nd in rushing defense in 2006. These stellar numbers earned Bedford his walking papers. When Oklahoma State came into that measly $120 Million, a new standard of excellence was in place and "mediocrity will not be tolerated." At 6-5, I don't think Bedford was the Cowboy's problem with regard to mediocrity.

Bedford was Michigan's DB coach when Woodson won the Heisman and his pass defenses have statistically been among the best while he's been a coach at Michigan. The 1997 squad led the country in pass defense, and don't look now, but Michigan was 10th in pass defense this year. That's right 10th.

Good Pedigree. Good recruiter. A history of putting guys in the NFL and has good NFL connections (he somehow turned Jerry Azumah, R.W. McQuarters, Mike Green, and Charles Tillman into legit NFL corners). Bedford managed to salvage this season's secondary. While blessed with good corners in Warren and Trent, the biggest changes have come from Brandon Harrison and Stevie Brown who went from goats early in the season to solid contributors. Another example is the emergence of Brandent Englemon, whom I argue Michigan's most improved and most valuable member of the secondary.

I think whoever takes over has to keep him.

Mike Gittleson - Strength and Conditioning

You are sooooooooooooo fired.