Minutes after Michigan’s Peach Bowl loss to Florida last month, a reporter asked Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh whether he anticipated any changes to his coaching staff.
The answer, perhaps predictably, was a simple “no.”
Three weeks later, that prediction has proven incorrect, as Michigan has already seen three assistant coaching jobs change hands.
The Wolverines were unexpectedly thrust onto the coaching carousel on Jan. 7, when Greg Mattison — who had spent eight seasons in Ann Arbor, including the last four as defensive line coach — was hired as Ohio State’s co-defensive coordinator. Less than 24 hours later, Mattison was joined in Columbus by linebackers coach Al Washington, who left to take the same position with the Buckeyes.
After a week of uncertainty, Michigan has filled both holes, quickly replenishing its defensive coaching staff to the five assistants it had before Mattison and Washington’s departures.
The Wolverines’ first defensive addition came last week, when they hired Boston College co-defensive coordinator Anthony Campanile, as first reported by 247Sports and later confirmed by the University Athletic Department.
“Anthony has a strong reputation for developing all-conference performers and future NFL players,” Harbaugh said in a news release. “Our student-athletes will benefit greatly from his mentorship. Anthony is an excellent addition to our coaching staff and provides great flexibility with his experience working on both sides of the ball and at multiple positions.”
Campanile worked as the Eagles’ defensive backs coach for the past three seasons, including one when Washington was there, after two as the tight ends coach at Rutgers. Michigan already has two defensive backs assistants — safeties coach Chris Partridge and cornerbacks coach Mike Zordich — meaning it could move Campanile to work with linebackers. Harbaugh could also opt to shift one of Partridge or Zordich, and assign Campanile to one of the defensive back groups.
Then, on Wednesday, 247Sports reported that the Wolverines filled their second vacancy by hiring defensive line coach Shaun Nua from Arizona State. Nua spent the past season with the Sun Devils after five seasons at Navy, all as defensive line coach, making him a direct replacement for Mattison.
Now, three weeks after Harbaugh’s proclamation, the Wolverines may actually be done with their coaching changes. The one remaining void in the coaching staff is at wide receivers coach, after Jim McElwain left to become the head coach at Central Michigan before the Peach Bowl. However, Michigan is currently at its NCAA-restricted 10-assistant limit, meaning any hiring would have to coincide with a departure or firing.
Gattis contract finalized
Michigan’s biggest offseason splash through three weeks has been its hiring of Josh Gattis from Alabama, where he was co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. Gattis was hired as the Wolverines’ offensive coordinator and play caller — a first under Harbaugh, who had previously forgone a traditional play-calling offensive coordinator.
Gattis has brought an air of excitement to Michigan’s offseason, promising a high-flying modern offense, similar to what he left behind in Alabama.
Gattis’ contract, obtained by The Daily via a Freedom of Information Act request, runs three years with a base annual salary of $900,000, making him the Wolverines’ third-highest paid assistant after passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton and defensive coordinator Don Brown. He will also receive a signing bonus of $200,000 and could earn up to $400,000 per year in bonuses.
If Gattis leaves for another assistant coaching job before Jan. 10, 2020, he owes Michigan a $400,000 buy-out. That figure drops to $250,000 if he leaves between Jan. 10, 2020 and Dec. 1, 2021. However, the buy-out will be voided if Gattis — who has never previously been a head coach — leaves for a head coaching job. The contract also permits him to freely interview with NFL teams.
Harbaugh offers seventh grader
One month after Michigan signed 25 players to its 2019 recruiting class, Harbaugh extended another offer — this time to a quarterback who won’t graduate middle school until 2020, making him the first offer of the Wolverines’ 2024 recruiting class.
Isaiah Marshall is just 13 years old, making him the youngest recruit — and the second seventh grader — that Michigan has ever offered. He is the son of former Northwestern running back Brian Marshall, who currently coaches at Southfield A&T outside of Detroit.
“He’s pretty laid back and humble, we keep a controlled environment for the most part,” Brian told the Detroit Free Press. “He’s pretty grounded. My brothers and I have all played Division I football, we’ve been there. We have experience on our side. We control the social media thing.
“But I still remember the (recruiting) process. And we coach the kids through it now. He grew up watching Sam Johnson play high school and youth ball, he was the first middle school kid in Michigan to get an offer. So he’s seen the process. He’s not your normal kid when it comes to the distraction factor.”
Because Marshall still has more than five years before he can graduate high school, this offer carries little practical meaning. The Wolverines offered linebacker Owen Pappoe — then an eighth grader — in 2015, but were not among his final choices when he ultimately committed to Auburn last month. However, it does show early interest and generate media and fan interest during a quiet time of year before National Signing Day in February.