Monday, February 15, 2010

Mailbag question: What do you guys think of the new defensive coach hire?

Posted at 8:00am -- 2/15/2010

Mailbag question: What do you guys think of the new defensive coach hire?

What do you guys think of the new defensive coach hire?

I see good things along with bad things with the hire.

The good includes that the new coach knows all the players and has been around the defensive coaches and probably does not have a huge ego.

The bad could be that he might be a "yes man" to the coaches along with the head coach. After interviewing and spending a lot of time with other coaches this might look like Michigan couldn't get anybody else.

Could the hire of this coach be a deal where many other assistant coaches were not sure about Coach Rod’s status at Michigan, along with the fact that he is more of an offensive coach?

Jim R.


Thank you for the question.

We have always believed that the head coach, be it Coach Bo, Coach Mo, Coach Carr, or Coach Rod, needs to be given complete control over staff selection and duties. It is the head coach’s job security and reputation that is on the line. We did not believe any of the rumors that some people were spreading about new AD Brandon stepping in and throwing names out (for the coaching vacancy) to Coach Rod. This hire shows some guts by Coach Rod. He opens himself up to an obvious charge of cronyism if Coach Braithwaite does not work out.

We know there were many bigger names floated around to join the Michigan staff, or at least were supposed to have been interviewed. Some are actually old friends of the program. In our opinion the last thing this coaching staff needs is another big ego. That is not meant as a cut or put down to Coach Rod and his staff members.

All great head coaches, and most top assistants, especially coordinators, have huge egos. It goes with the territory. It takes a fairly large ego to be a top-flight college coach. You have to 100% believe in what you are doing and your coaching ability. Most top assistants would want a large say in what Michigan was doing (program implementation and make-up) and this could be very problematic. A big time hire could also more than likely be a short-term hire, and in our opinion any big name assistant would be looking for a defensive coordinator job as soon as possible. And that would put Coach Rod right back to this starting point next season. Plus, there are a ton of positives for hiring from within at this point.

We have been impressed by many of the graduate assistants that we have seen at Michigan practices, including the offensive line GA, running back GA, and strength and conditioning GA, who stayed at Michigan instead of taking a full-time position at another school.

Promoting from within has benefits; the GA is familiar with the playbook, players, and the rest of the staff. As mentioned, such a hire does not bring in a huge ego, and promoting from within will also help attract other top quality GA's. Coach Braithewaite also has experience with special teams.

1) Coach Braithwaite has been on the Michigan staff for two years, it will be an easier transition because he is already familiar with techniques, terminology, and schemes.

2) Hiring/promoting from within will make it easier to attract other top level GA's and assistants.

3) Coach Braithwaite has already coached with the majority of the staff for two to four years, two at Michigan and two at West Virginia. He already knows and understands what is expected and has developed the "thick skin" Coach Rod has talked about it takes to coach on this staff.

4) He is already familiar with the players what they can do and not do. In meetings he is already prepared to discuss and help evaluate players and where they might better fit.

5) He is not a rookie coach. He has been a defensive coordinator and has previously coached the positions he is being hired to oversee.

6) He has experience handling special teams, and this could be a big bonus in our opinion.

Not that there are not some potential pitfalls, and not that there is no risk to the hire, but there is risk in any hire.

While Coach Braithwaite is not a rookie, he does have limited experience at this high of a level. He also was primarily a safety coach in the past, working with hybrids is not completely new to him, but he does not have a lot of experience at this position.

Let us take a summative look at the current situation that has formed over the last few years: (1) the past two seasons have went poorly; (2) Michigan has went through several defensive coordinators over the past few years, and (3) there is a general perception that the defense is overlooked by the offense, etc.

With all the things going on with Michigan football currently, with practice gate, daily logs, Coach Rod’s future with two non-winning seasons in a row, the NCAA in-house and all the rumored politics going on behind the scenes at Michigan, attracting a top level assistant would not have been easy. Supposedly some potential assistants were interviewed for the position but took jobs at what we believe were lesser college football program at a similar position.

This hire will provide some stability and was probably about as good as Michigan was going to do, especially with how long it took to bring in an assistant coach. If UM could have succeeded in bringing in a bigger name assistant we believe this would have been done post haste, in part to help finish out the 2010 recruiting season. Having the advantages of time and hindsight it now makes sense that the hire went the way it did, not publicly being announced until after signing day.

This hire may not get people "excited" or get people talking positive about Michigan. But the conclusion of the success of the hire will have to take a wait and see what happens approach.

Every coach at this level has a breakthrough start to a coaching career.

We welcome Coach Braithwaite, and wish him good luck. GBMW wishes him a long and successful career at Michigan, and as always ... GO Blue!

Written by GBMW Staff

Go Blue -- Wear Maize!

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