In the latest — and certainly not last — rotation of the Michigan football coaching carousel, Scott Turner has accepted a job as the quarterbacks coach for the Carolina Panthers, according to an ESPN report.
Turner, formerly the Wolverines’ senior offensive analyst, leaves Harbaugh’s staff less than a year after he was hired. Word of Turner’s hiring comes just hours after his father and long-time NFL coach, Norv, was named Carolina’s offensive coordinator.
Turner will leave the staff after a turbulent season offensively for Michigan. The Wolverines ranked 86th nationally in points per game, their lowest such ranking since the 2008-09 season. The trio of quarterbacks — redshirt junior Wilton Speight, fifth-year senior John O’Korn and redshirt freshman Brandon Peters — combined to throw for more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (9), while completing just 53 percent of their passes.
Turner, who started his career with the Panthers in 2011, will head back to Carolina already having a plethora of NFL experience under his belt. Before coming to Michigan, he spent three seasons working with Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota. Turner also spent a season working as a wide receivers coach with the Cleveland Browns.
While his position title of “senior offensive analyst” may not require a “like-for-like” replacement, Turner’s departure only adds to the list of coaching vacancies Harbaugh will likely fill in the coming weeks.
Coaching contracts finalized
While Turner and others leave, the incoming staff is starting to formally take shape.
Nearly a month after moving on from strength and conditioning coach Kevin Tolbert, Michigan finalized an agreement with former Arkansas coach Ben Herbert to the same position. Herbert spent the last five seasons on staff with the Razorbacks, and previously spent 11 seasons with Wisconsin.
The move comes just weeks after Harbaugh called for Michigan to “get stronger” going into next season.
“We need to do that,” Harbaugh said after his team’s bowl loss to South Carolina. “We need improvement. We need to get stronger. Need to get better.”
Harbaugh’s emphasis on strength and conditioning possibly stems from the fact that the Wolverines scored 0 points in the fourth quarter of their final three games, all losses.
On the defensive side, Al Washington finalized a two-year deal to become Michigan’s linebackers and special teams coach. Washington will come to Ann Arbor from Cincinnati, where he served as a defensive line coach for one season.
And offensively, Dan Enos — hired last week without offering a specific title — will coach the wide receivers, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press. Enos will make $150,000 his first year on staff, with a $50,000 increase each year after that, the report says.
Michigan did not have a coach on staff delegated as the “wide receivers coach” last season, though Pep Hamilton largely assumed that role under his title of “passing game coordinator.” Hamilton — according to a tweet from Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports — may be under consideration for a position in Jon Gruden’s staff with the Oakland Raiders.
That enough rumors and semantics for you?
Because of the Wolverines’ disappointing 8-5 finish — and the nature of their struggles — this is an offseason fraught with staff turnover and widespread change.
Buckle up. It’s only January.
Vegas odds and early rankings released
In an annual tradition of turning attention to the next season immediately after the previous, Las Vegas released its odds to win the 2018-19 national championship. Perhaps to the surprise of some who watched Michigan scuffle to an 8-5 record, the Wolverines opened as 10-1 odds to win the title.
Michigan trails just reigning national champion, Alabama (3-1), runner up, Georgia (9-2), Clemson (6-1) and Ohio State (8-1). Those four teams combined for a 50-7 record this season.
The heaping expectations for next season are largely contingient upon the eligibility of transfer quarterback Shea Patterson, who was the top-ranked quarterback in the 2016 recruiting class.
AthalonSports.com ranked the Wolverines seventh in their “Way-too-early top 25,” citing an intriguing returning defense and the poential growth of the receiving corps.
“After a rebuilding year in 2017, the Wolverines are poised for a rebound back into the top 10 in 2018,” Athlon writes. “Don Brown’s defense should rank among the best in the nation once again. This unit is slated to return nearly intact, but tackle Maurice Hurst and linebacker Mike McCray depart to the NFL. Linebacker Devin Bush and end Rashan Gary should push for All-American honors, with Khaleke Hudson (LB) and cornerback Lavert Hill returning as key contributors.”