Big Ten newsmakers: What does the Jim McElwain hire mean for Michigan?
This week’s Big Ten newsmakers focuses on only one newsmaker, one who is usually in the thick of things: Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. Here’s what the media that covers the Wolverines had to say about the hire.
Jim Harbaugh made a bold move this week when he hired former Florida coach Jim McElwain to coach wide receivers and to help with coordinating the Wolverines offense. It’s a group that’s needed plenty of help during Harbaugh’s tenure at Michigan, where Jake Rudock might be the best college quarterback he’s developed in three seasons.
But what does this hire actually mean for Michigan and the direction the program is headed in? McElwain is regarded as a solid offensive mind. He was offensive coordinator for Alabama’s first two national titles under Nick Saban in 2009 and 2011 before revamping Colorado State into a mid-major contender. It got him the Florida job. But in two-plus years with the Gators, the offense never caught up to the defense, despite a pair of SEC East titles.
Harbaugh hasn’t had offensive consistency at Michigan, either. The Wolverines were No. 8 in the Big Ten in scoring offense and No. 9 in scoring offense last season. That’s a steep drop off from their perch at No. 1 and No. 4 in those respective categories in 2016. Last season was always pegged as a down year for Michigan, but the offense’s ability to rebound in 2018 will determine how long that drop-off lasts.
So how does McElwain fit in? And what does that mean for the Wolverines? There appears to be some mixed reactions from around the college football world. The Orlando Sentinel’s David Whitley is skeptical of McElwain’s addition to the Wolverines staff:
[Harbaugh] took his team to Italy last year for spring break. Harbaugh gave Pope Francis a Michigan helmet and said the Holy Father gave him some marching orders.
I’m guessing they weren’t “Hire Jim McElwain!”
What is Harbaugh thinking?
That’s always been a guessing game. It is safe to say Harbaugh and McElwain have more in common than their first names.
They are both oddballs, bridge-burners and smugly self-confident.