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What’s next after Chris Partridge’s departure on the defensive side of the ball

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This loss is bigger than the title that came with his position at Michigan.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines officially lost one of their top assistants on Thursday when it was announced that Chris Partridge would be joining Lane Kiffin’s coaching staff at Ole Miss. This means head coach Jim Harbaugh not only needs to fill the roles of safeties coach and special teams coordinator, but also one of his ace recruiters on the staff.

Maize n Brew was informed prior to the Citrus Bowl and confirmed with a separate source on Thursday that Partridge did plan on taking the job with Kiffin at Ole Miss unless the defensive coordinator position opened in Ann Arbor. With Don Brown under contract for a few more seasons still and no changes planned at the time of the bowl game, it became likely that Partridge was going to have to move on to take a step forward in his career. That does not make the decision any easier to make and we’re told that was the case.

Partridge loves the university and the opportunity that was provided to him and would likely be interested in a return down the road if the appropriate situation became available.

It remains unclear if Michigan made any sort of counteroffer or upgrade in job title, but given the timeline of events the last few days since reports broke about Partridge’s interest in Ole Miss, well, draw your own conclusions there.

We’ve discussed a lot recently about Michigan’s struggles on the recruiting trail, but Partridge was not complicit in them. He helped bring in some of the most talented players the Harbaugh era has seen on that side of the ball (Devin Bush, Rashan Gary, Daxton Hill, just to name a few) and was one of the nation’s top recruiters and hardest workers on the trail. This is not an insignificant position coach loss.

Some believe that the Brown era should come to a close and variables should be changed. Brown’s defenses have been great statistically, though we are all familiar with struggles in the bigger games. After four years with similar results, it feels like now might be time for something different, but Brown at the very least gives them a known commodity. I’ve been in that camp and believed Partridge was the natural fit to slide in there.

That’s not happening now, but it still is too early to rule anything out on the Brown front. There have been no indications given that he plans on leaving, but things can always change. We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

For now, Devin Bush Sr., who works as an analyst with the program, seems like the top candidate to replace Partridge on the staff. He is as highly regarded as a worker and his NFL and coaching pedigree should be a natural fit that appeals to recruits if they choose to go that route. In fact, it might be why Harbaugh and Michigan are comfortable with this situation.

Harbaugh deserves the benefit of the doubt when it comes to coaching hires and has a track record of bringing in good people. We’ll see what happens, but Thursday was a bit of a bummer for the Partridge hive...for now.