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Michigan DB coach Brian Smith is departing for Rice University, per ESPN

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Photo credit: Eric Upchurch, MGoBlog

The coaching carousel has begun once again.

Michigan’s second and sometimes overlooked defensive backs coach, Brian Smith, has agreed to take the defensive coordinator duties at Rice University, which went 1-11 and 1-7 in Conference-USA this season, per an ESPN report.

Smith was undoubtedly a valuable part on Michigan’s staff, and helped build two terrific secondaries at U-M. But this will also be an interesting opportunity for Jim Harbaugh to take his staff in a new direction — as we saw last year when Harbaugh replaced running backs coach Tyrone Wheatley with his own son, Jay Harbaugh, and another O-line coach in Greg Frey. There are a lot of directions Harbaugh can go.

Fellow secondaries coach Mike Zordich has also been a phenomenal DB coach, but he’s always worked in tandem with someone else and also has special teams duties. Michigan could replace Brian Smith with another DB coach or do something more creative, based on the candidate pool.

It’s also important to note that an NCAA rule increasing the number of assistant coaches from 9 to 10 is going to go into effect this January. So Michigan will be looking for at least two coaches over the next month or so.

We’ll have more on this story as it develops.