As the flames continue to rage on the mob’s torches outside of Warde Manuel’s house following his flaccid attempts to retain Jim Harbaugh, the attention must slowly shift to the coaching staff for Team 145.
For the sake of argument and radical speculation, let’s presume offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore is promoted to head coach. Given Manuel’s track record of incompetence, nothing is a sure thing, but even he should be able to handle this softball.
But what about the rest of the staff? Does Jesse Minter follow Harbaugh to the NFL? Do any of the other coaches leave for another opportunity, whether it’s the NFL or otherwise?
Let’s assess the concern meter with each positional coach on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most concerned and 1 being the least.
AHC/ Director of Strength and Conditioning Ben Herbert: 6
Ben Herbert is the heart and soul of the Michigan football program. Collegiate strength and conditioning coaches are around the players more than any other coach, and have the single most significant impact on their development as athletes and as people.
It is highly unlikely Herb leaves for the NFL considering he makes seven figures in Ann Arbor — and NFL strength and conditioning coaches make far less. However, Harbaugh and Herbert have a familial relationship and if anyone could convince Herbert to leave the job and town he loves and move to Los Angeles, it is Harbaugh.
Defensive Coordinator Jesse Minter: 10
Jesse Minter is one of the best defensive coordinators in college football due to his versatile scheme and situational play-calling. However, Minter — like his predecessor Mike Macdonald — seems to have aspirations at the next level.
Last season, Minter interviewed with the Eagles for their vacant defensive coordinator position and it is widely expected he tests the NFL waters again. Minter appears to be the most likely of the assistants without the last name “Harbaugh” to leave, and most have him slotted in to follow Jim to the Chargers. This departure should deeply concern every fan, but it is one you should also be prepared for.
Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach Steve Clinkscale: 4
With Minter penciled in to Los Angeles, it is a possibility that Steve Clinkscale will be elevated to the primary play-caller role. Clinkscale has been with the Wolverines since 2021, has the respect of the players, and has prior defensive coordinator experience (2015, Cincinnati).
If Clinkscale isn’t elevated, would he be content to stay in Ann Arbor and wait behind someone else? If the Wolverines were to lose Minter and Clinkscale, this defense — which has the potential to be elite next season — would undergo a massive reset under the guidance of a new coach and could potentially lose several key players to the portal.
Running Game Coordinator/Running Backs Coach Mike Hart: 5
Mike Hart can be described as a coach, but he is best described as a leader of men. Since his arrival in 2021, Hart has brought accountability and maturity to the running back position, resulting in three straight 1,000-yard rushers, two single-season rushing touchdown records, and the sustained success of Blake Corum, who just capped off the greatest running back career in the history of the program.
Hart will be up for the offensive coordinator position and could even receive a promotion to associate head coach, a title he held at Indiana. Hart has aspirations to be a head coach, but he is not going to rush out of his current or future position at Michigan for any vacancy.
Recruiting Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Mike Elston: 4
Assuming Clinkscale is elevated to the primary defensive coordinator position, it is likely Mike Elston will be promoted to co-defensive coordinator. Elston has done a fantastic job sharpening the stars along Michigan’s defensive line and developing an unprecedented amount of depth over the last two years. It is highly unlikely he follows Harbaugh to the NFL, but if he senses a dead end at Michigan — similarly to his experience at Notre Dame — Elston could seek an increased role elsewhere.
Quarterbacks Coach Kirk Campbell: 4
Despite only being a full-time assistant for one season, Kirk Campbell is one of the most respected voices in Schembechler Hall. Campbell is largely credited with helping quarterback J.J. McCarthy take the next step as a passer and develop into a Heisman Trophy-caliber player.
Campbell is expected to stay in Ann Arbor and possibly receive a promotion to offensive coordinator or co-offensive coordinator, meaning he would take over play-calling if Moore relents that responsibility as head coach.
Tight Ends Coach Grant Newsome: 7
Grant Newsome is a rising star in the coaching profession. It was rumored that even before he was a full-time assistant, Harbaugh wanted to bring Newsome with him to the Vikings in 2022. Still not even 27 years of age, Newsome could potentially take over offensive line responsibilities if he stays and — at this trajectory — could be in position for an FBS head coaching opportunity before he is 33. Losing a young coaching gem like Newsome would be difficult to replace, but at this stage of his career, it would not be insurmountable.
Special Teams Coordinator/ Safeties Coach Jay Harbaugh: 10
Jay Harbaugh has done a little bit of everything in Ann Arbor. Since joining his father’s staff in 2015, he has coached tight ends, running backs, safeties, and been affiliated with the special teams unit every year.
Fans should expect him to announce he is joining his father in Los Angeles in the coming days, so the only concern here is finding a competent level replacement to prevent special teams from becoming a weakness after years of being a strength.
Wide Receivers Coach Ron Bellamy: 3
Ron Bellamy has only been with the Wolverines and at the college ranks for three seasons, coaching the safeties in 2021 before switching to wide receiver. Bellamy is universally expected to return to Michigan next season with the same title. Of course, there is always room for a little concern, but with Bellamy, he appears to be locked in with Michigan.
Linebackers Coach Rick Minter: 0
Rick Minter is very likely leaving, but don’t be concerned. He is in the twilight of his career and only stepped in to coach the linebackers after Chris Partridge was fired. Minter will likely follow his son, Jesse, to his next destination and if that happens to be in Ann Arbor, expect Rick to return to his analyst position with the Wolverines.