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Michigan vs. Maryland and the Josh Gattis-Mike Locksley dynamic

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Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis and Maryland head coach Mike Locksley know one another well and had a spirited back and forth through the media before the 2019 season began.

NCAA Football: Michigan Spring Game Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

When the Michigan Wolverines take on the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday, there’s more of a rivalry going than initially meets the eye.

Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis and Maryland head coach Mike Locksley know one another well, they’ve spent a lot of time together in the past year as a matter of fact.

Both coaches were on the Alabama Crimson Tide coaching staff in 2018, they were co-offensive coordinators. Now Locksley is the head man at 3-5 Maryland while Gattis is the offensive coordinator and calling plays for 6-2 Michigan.

The ‘rivalry’, or at the very least, spirited exchange and disagreement between the two men, began in July at Big Ten Media Days when Locksley was asked a few questions about Gattis.

“Who’s that?”, Locksley quipped. “Why am I getting Josh Gattis questions? Is he here today?”

Locksley would eventually call Gattis a “good coach” and wished him good luck, but also said something that Gattis caught wind of.

“He had an opportunity to see me call every play and how we put together game plans,” Locksley said with a tone that emphasized it was he, not Gattis, calling the plays for Alabama.

“Mike Locksley can say I watched him call every play. Ask him where the game plans usually came from,” Gattis said a couple weeks later. “So I’m fine with that, you know what I mean? He called every play, and I’ve got a notebook upstairs with a lot of the game plans written down in them.”

Gattis noted how much respect he has for Locksley and that he considers him a friend and mentor but did finish by saying “just because I haven’t called plays before, I’ve recommended a lot of plays during games. That’s where it comes down.”

Locksley, in turn, responded to what Gattis said. “I don’t care to comment on it, but I am because I’d like to put this to bed,” Locksley said. “Here’s what I’ll say: I’ve been a first-time play-caller before, I think back in 2005 was the first time I had the chance to call plays, so I know the anxiety that comes along with it. Josh knows the truth, I think that’s really important to understand, and I also know that there’s a difference between suggestions and decisions, and he’ll have an opportunity to make decisions now.”

While there isn’t any bad blood, the public back and forth wasn’t exactly the sunniest of moments in their friendship. When pride is on the line, a coach is going to let it be known what work they did or did not do.

For Gattis, he strongly believes the hours he spent putting together “a lot of gameplans” along with the suggestions he made were an important piece to Alabama’s run to the National Championship Game (which they lost to Clemson).

For Locksley, he believes the fact he called all the plays and was a decision-maker outweighs any game-plan or suggestion offered by Gattis.

Enter Saturday.

This is a good story-line. Both Gattis and Locksley will hope their offenses look sharp. And remember how Michigan started fast against Notre Dame and ended up winning 45-14? Yeah, Gattis would love for his team to be in a position to score as many points as possible and ruin Maryland’s homecoming, along with Locksley’s day.

The match-up is much bigger than two men, there are a lot of livelihoods represented when Michigan and Maryland square off. But even so, it’s safe to bet Gattis would love to be in a position to say to Locksley “How’d you like my play-calls and decision-making today?”