News surfaced on Friday afternoon the Michigan Wolverines fired quarterbacks coach and co-offensive coordinator Matt Weiss due to an ongoing police investigation. Weiss played a hand in the development and improvement from J.J. McCarthy.
Jim Harbaugh now has to replace Weiss and help McCarthy and the offense succeed at just as high of a level in 2023. The good news is the Wolverines have options.
Sherrone Moore, the other co-offensive coordinator, isn’t going anywhere. If he is asked to take on the full responsibility of offensive coordinator, there is little doubt in my mind he will succeed. If that were to happen, the Wolverines may have to fill two spots: offensive line and quarterbacks coach. Or they hire another coach who does both, like Weiss.
Long story short, there is a lot at play here, but there are several names both inside and outside the university that would make sense to fill some of these holes. Here are five coaches I am keeping my eye on, whether it be for the quarterbacks coach, co-offensive coordinator, or both.
With rumors percolating about Harbaugh leaving for the NFL, some questioned if Hart could make the jump all the way to head coach. Now that he is back, it would not be surprising to see him get a promotion to co-offensive coordinator.
Hart has been gold for this program. Blake Corum is coming off a historic season and could have potentially won the Heisman had he not been injured. As soon as he did, Donovan Edwards was a superstar and carried the Wolverines past Ohio State and into the playoffs. Even C.J. Stokes looked great at times as a true freshman. All that was coming off a 2021 season that was equally impressive with Hassan Haskins crushing it.
If there is any guy who could be promoted from within, odds are it is Hart.
This one is a dark horse, but would make sense. Pritchard is the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Stanford, where he played quarterback from 2006-09. That just so happens to be the same time Harbaugh was there as his head coach.
After his senior season, Pritchard began his coaching career at his alma mater. Here is how that conversation went in Pritchard’s own words:
I told [then-head coach Jim] Harbaugh before the next season that I wanted to get into coaching, that I thought I owed it to myself to at least try it out, and coach Harbaugh said, ‘Great. Come on. I don’t have any staff positions open, but you can come volunteer.’ And I did everything from filling up coach Harbaugh’s refrigerator with Diet Pepsi to breaking down film.
Harbaugh moved on to coach the San Francisco 49ers that season, but Pritchard still has “fond memories” of the man he cites as instrumental to both his own development and the Stanford program’s.
While the Cardinal have not been the most successful program recently, Pritchard has done good work with the quarterbacks. Tanner McKee, the starter in 2021 and 2022, is off to the NFL and is considered among the best in the class. Before McKee was Davis Mills, another draft pick who has been the starter the last two years for the Houston Texans. In 2018, his first season as quarterbacks coach, KJ Costello threw for 3,540 yards and 29 touchdowns.
Michigan also got two offensive linemen in the transfer portal from Stanford — Drake Nugent and Myles Hinton. Could he convince a coach to make the move to Ann Arbor next?
A former Florida Gators head coach getting an opportunity to get back into coaching at Michigan? Tell me if you have heard that one before.
Harbaugh did it with Jim McElwain in 2018, so who's to say that couldn't happen again?
Mullen was Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Florida from 2005-08. Then he became the head man at Mississippi State for nearly a decade before a tumultuous return to Florida. He’s coached some quality quarterbacks including Alex Smith, Tim Tebow, Dak Prescott and Kyle Trask.
While Mullen is currently a studio analyst for ABC/ESPN, he has expressed interest in returning to coaching in the right situation. Not sure how much better it can get than McCarthy and a Michigan team that has gone to back-to-back College Football Playoffs.
Another name no one has probably heard of. Stern just wrapped up his first season as an offensive assistant with the Baltimore Ravens, however, he has been with the franchise for the last seven seasons.
Stern is a bright young coach who graduated from Yale in 2016 after helping with their football program as well. According to a story by Baltimore Magazine in 2019, he played a role in the coaching staff similar to Weiss in his time with the Ravens.
“For years, (John) Harbaugh has had a staffer in the booth in this role. At first, it was Matt Weiss, who is now the team’s running backs’ coach. Stern took over the job this season, and what he does informs some of Harbaugh’s key game-management decisions — including whether to go for it on fourth down, which has become one of the calling cards of this Lamar Jackson-led, “Big Truss”-infused team.”
The Ravens’ team website said in 2022 he assisted with “drawing the playbook, opponent analysis and self-scouting” while also working with the wide receivers. We have already seen the Baltimore-to-Ann Arbor pipeline in the past with coaches exchanging between the two Harbaugh’s, and it wouldn’t be surprising if it happened again. This would likely only happen for a quarterbacks coach role and not co-offensive coordinator, but history tends to repeat itself, so don’t be too shocked if something like this happens.
Remember when Denard Robinson was brought back to Ann Arbor as the program’s assistant director of player personnel? Why not give him a headset and give him the chance to coach the quarterbacks?
Robinson was clearly known for using his legs more than his arm, but fans clamored all season long that McCarthy was not running the football enough. One of McCarthy’s weaknesses is pocket presence and knowing when to tuck it and run; Shoelace could certainly help him with that.
This is far from the perfect hire, but Harbaugh has hired young Michigan alumni recently to round out his coaching staff. Ron Bellamy and Grant Newsome are examples of that, with Hart and Mike Elston also being alums, but with a lot more college coaching experience.
Weiss’ replacement as quarterbacks coach (Denard) or co-offensive coordinator (Hart) might already be on staff. Or perhaps Harbaugh goes a completely different route with an external hire. There’s also Greg Roman and other notable names out there. With so many options and scenarios that could happen, keep your eyes peeled for more on this as it develops throughout the offseason.