Pep Hamilton’s offense? Michigan football still a Jim Harbaugh production


ANN ARBOR — New Michigan wide receivers coach Jim McElwain said last week Pep Hamilton has been the one guiding the offense this spring.

However, Hamilton — Michigan’s second-year assistant head coach and passing-game coordinator — did his best over the weekend to debunk that notion.

In a meeting with reporters on Sunday, Hamilton re-emphasized a long-standing belief when it comes to the Michigan offense and play calls: this is Jim Harbaugh’s show.

“Coach Harbaugh, it’s his offense,” Hamilton said. “Everything goes through coach. It starts and ends with coach Harbaugh.”

McElwain, the former Florida head coach, responded to a question last week about his involvement in helping to shape Michigan’s offense by saying he was on board to “learn what Pep’s teaching.”

Then when asked if he would help contribute, McElwain answered, “I hope I am.”

“He’s kind of running it,” McElwain said. “Like I said, I’m just here to help.”

Hamilton says he understands the arrangement of the offensive coaches a little differently. Last season, Hamilton shared play-calling duties with Tim Drevno, the now-departed former offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, with Harbaugh having final say.

But as we saw during Michigan’s “All or Nothing” Amazon Prime documentary series, it more often than not boiled down to the type of play preferred. Hamilton called most of the passing plays, while Drevno had most of the run plays.

“We all work together,” Hamilton said. “You know how we do it here. We collaborate our thoughts, and once the ink (dries), coach Harbaugh gives us the thumbs up or the thumbs down.”

Adding to the confusion are all the new faces on Michigan’s offensive coaching staff. Not only is McElwain new, but veteran college coach Ed Warinner has been tasked with coaching the offensive line.

And Warinner has plenty of coordinating experience himself, with plenty of success doing it at Ohio State. 

“I want to be involved in whatever role coach Harbaugh wants me,” Warinner said earlier this month.

“I’ve coordinated offenses, so I have some good thoughts and other things. The beautiful thing is, it’s a very open discussion about how we want to move the football and what we want to do.”

As spring winds down, Michigan’s QB situation still lacks clarity

Others remain in Harbaugh’s ear, including running backs coach Jay Harbaugh, new tight-ends coach Sherrone Moore, and new offensive analyst and former Detroit Lions offensive line coach Ron Prince. Harbaugh himself has characterized the offensive play-calling as a collaborative process.

But at the end of the day, what Harbaugh says goes, Hamilton said.

“We work well together,” Hamilton said. “We’ve had our open lines of communication throughout. Coach Harbaugh, of course, he dictates what we do and what we’re working on.”

The Wolverines are coming off an 8-5 season in 2017, one that ended with a three-game losing streak and loss to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.



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