Reports: McElwain to join Michigan staff

Thursday, February 15, 2018 - 6:00pm

Jim Harbaugh is closing in on a 10th assistant for Michigan’s coaching staff.

As reported by The Michigan Insider’s Sam Webb and FootballScoop, former Florida head coach Jim McElwain is expected to join the Michigan coaching staff, replacing Dan Enos, who left for Alabama shortly after being hired by Harbaugh.

McElwain and Florida parted ways on Oct. 30 this past season after the coach claimed that his family and players had received death threats; the University could not verify McElwain’s claims and sought to terminate him with cause.

In three seasons coaching the Gators, McElwain compiled a 22-12 record, including two SEC East titles in his first two years. Before his firing, Florida had a 3-4 record — including a season-opening 33-17 loss to Michigan on Sept. 2 in Arlington, Tex.

That wasn’t the only time McElwain came up against Michigan during his tenure in Gainesville.

The Gators lost, 41-7, to the Wolverines in the 2016 Citrus Bowl at the end of Harbaugh’s first season coaching Michigan.

McElwain’s hiring would fill Michigan’s coaching staff to capacity. Earlier this offseason, the Wolverines hired Sherrone Moore to coach the tight ends and Al Washington to coach linebackers.

“We’re thrilled with the new additions,” Harbaugh said on Feb. 7. “Sherrone Moore, Al Washington, I think they’re fantastic.”

A longtime assistant coach on the offensive side of the ball, McElwain has significant experience coaching quarterbacks and wide receivers.

After a four-year career at Eastern Washington, McElwain stuck around as a graduate assistant between 1985-86, before taking over as the quarterbacks and receivers coach between 1987-1994. His next stop was at Montana State, where he added play-calling responsibilities.

McElwain does have some experience coaching in the midwest. After a three-year stint at Louisville under John L. Smith, he followed Smith to Michigan State, where he served as assistant head coach and oversaw the receivers and special teams unit.

After brief stops with the Oakland Raiders and Fresno State, McElwain was hired by Nick Saban to call plays and coach the quarterbacks at Alabama. He stayed there for four seasons; in that span, the Crimson Tide won two national championships. McElwain’s offenses finished 25th, 14th, 2nd and 20th, respectively, according to the S&P+ Ratings, which take into account efficiency, explosiveness, field position and ability to finish drives, all of which are adjusted for a team’s schedule.

McElwain got his first job as a head coach at Colorado State shortly after Alabama won the 2011-12 BCS National Championship. With the Rams, McElwain tallied a 22-16 record, improving the team’s record from 4-8 to 8-6 and then 10-3 in his final season. In December of 2014, he took the head coaching job at Florida.

Given the current composition of the staff, it appears likely McElwain will coach the receivers, the role Enos was set to take on.

This position group, along with Michigan’s passing attack as a whole, struggled often last season. Senior Grant Perry led the team with just 25 receptions for 307 yards, while freshman Donovan Peoples-Jones and sophomore Kekoa Crawford were close behind with 22 catches for 277 yards and 17 catches for 243 yards, respectively. The Wolverines lost freshman Tarik Black, one of their starters, to a foot injury just three weeks into the season.

Harbaugh said on National Signing Day that he’s currently working to improve Michigan’s offense, which finished among the nation’s worst in scoring, passing yardage and sacks allowed.

“On offense right now, we are going through a self-scout period,” Harbaugh said, “and looking at ways to get our offense up to where our defense is.”