Most people will agree the Michigan Wolverines got the right guy for the job in Sherrone Moore to replace Jim Harbaugh. He led the team to its two best regular season wins of the championship run: at Penn State and in The Game against Ohio State. With Harbaugh departing after a national championship, it felt like a natural spot for Moore to take over.
Now Moore is on the recruiting trail, already focusing on bringing in the next era of guys who will wear the winged helmet. He’s being pressed by parents, future players, and the media alike about how things will be different under his regime.
From every sense of the imagination, it feels like his approach is not breaking something that does not need to be fixed. “The program and how we’ve done it and how we’ve built it is going to be the same,” said Moore on the Pat McAfee Show on Thursday.
So far, Moore has lived up to that. He’s only promoted from within with vacancies left by Harbaugh and the staff he’s taken with him. When Ben Herbert decided to go to Los Angeles, Moore went right ahead and gave the job to Justin Tress, who has been with the program since 2017 and has previously been with the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Grant Newsome also received a promotion to fill Moore’s position as offensive line coach, and it appears that the whole coaching roster could be set as early as next week. It’s safe to assume that means an inside promotion for offensive coordinator (likely quarterback coach Kirk Campbell, but maybe running back coach Mike Hart) and maybe only one or two outside hires to be defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator.
The important thing in all of this is that talent is being retained. Players know and trust the people that are currently in the building at Schembechler Hall. As long as that is true, the talent should keep flowing into Ann Arbor and there likely won’t be many changes to the personnel currently expected to be on the team in the fall of 2024. That’s because they know and understand their own expectations of what it means to play Michigan football.
“In terms of the football team, you want to continue that as similar as possible,” Moore said on the Pat McAfee Show. “The toughness, the blue-collar mentality, how we work on the field, off the field, the academic standard, everything we do we’re going to present ourselves in a high-class manner. We’re going to continue to do that the exact same way... The results speak for themselves, so we want to continue to play at that high level with that physicality, with that toughness, and do everything in that manner.”
But Moore also has the wherewithal to understand that it won’t be 100 percent the same without Harbaugh leading the way anymore. There will be new leaders, new faces, and new coaches that will have to help form and shape the program’s culture moving forward:
I’m going to run it my way. We’re still going to be tough, we’re still going to be smart, we’re still going to be dependable. We’re going to be relentless in everything we do... (but) I’m going to be me. I can’t be Coach (Harbaugh), don’t want to be Coach (Harbaugh). Coach (Harbaugh) is his own person. I love him, got mad love for him, and always will, and respect him. I’ve learned so much from him, but I’m going to run the program my way.
One area that Moore already knows that he will lead differently is his relationship with the players. Harbaugh received glowing remarks from just about every young man he coached in Ann Arbor, especially from the group that just won the national championship. However, Moore envisions a slightly different form of communication between him and his team moving forward, telling McAfee that “the energy, for me, is a big piece of it. I want to be someone that the kids can rely on, can be a vessel for, be very open with them. My philosophy in coaching is that I coach hard, but I love harder, so they’re going to feel that.”
We’re only one week into the Moore regime, so there is still a lot to figure out here. As mentioned earlier, the coaching staff isn’t even completely in place yet. So there are still things that Moore is going to have to learn about himself and his team. There’s an understanding that on the micro-level, there will be some changes that will take time to implement and this is still a work in progress.
“Things on the day-to-day basis might be a little different,” said Moore, “as we go, we’ll figure out what those things are.”