Bobby Carpenter: Anarchy In Ann Arbor

For a Michigan fan, the past week must have seemed like bad dream. Fresh off their most successful season in 20 years, chaos was brewing for the Wolverines.

First, the most dominant Wolverine defense in recent memory lost its architect. Defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald announced he was returning to the NFL after his first and only season at the helm. Jim Harbaugh essentially had him for a year-long rental from his brother John, the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, and then Macdonald returned to the NFL.

Meanwhile, Jim Harbaugh was flirting with any NFL that would catch his eye. He reportedly gave his staff the week before National Signing Day off while he traveled to Minneapolis to have a second interview with the Minnesota Vikings. Harbaugh apparently thought the interview was a mere formality, that it would be more like an employee onboarding than an actual Q and A.

With Harbaugh apparently out the door, speculation ran wild about who would replace him. Matt Campbell of Iowa State and Luke Fickell of Cincinnati were mentioned as outside candidates. However, if the program went with an outsider, they’d risk recruits jumping ship to the portal during the transition. The Wolverines had a top 10 recruiting class in the bag, and they didn’t want to jeopardize it.

The solution was internal. Running backs coach and Michigan alum Mike Hart seemed like a viable solution. He is a “Michigan Man” and seemingly checks all the boxes for the fan base.

However, offensive coordinator Josh Gattis — the recipient of the 2021 Broyles Award, given to the most impactful assistant coach of the year — would be a national splash. The former Alabama assistant has transformed that side of the ball for Michigan, adding flare to their otherwise archaic offense. 

Only Harbaugh didn’t get the Minnesota job after all, and he returned to Ann Arbor, hat in hand, and the Wolverines took him back with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind.

https://twitter.com/UMichAthletics/status/1489255435169251341

Now, days after Harbaugh announced his return, Gattis has hit the road. The man who looked like a long-term solution to a head coaching vacancy that never materialized is abandoning the Maize and Blue for “The U.” At best, it’s a lateral move. Michigan has an infinitely larger war chest to pay assistants and is in a much better conference. The Big Ten rakes in about $20 million more a year than their ACC counterparts, and Miami in particular has been a dumpster fire recently, churning through coaches like Andy Reid through cheeseburgers. 

So why would Gattis want to leave what seems to be a better situation? Well, the answer might lie in his departing text to his players.

“Fellas, it’s with a broken heart i write this,” the text read. “I am resigning my position here at Michigan to go to another university. I have given everything i have to you guys and michigan. I sacrificed so much personally to stand in the fight with each of you which i would never take back. Unfortunately the past few weeks has told a different story to me about the very little appreciation i have here from administration. In life i would never advise anyone to be where they are not wanted and i owe that to my family and my integrity to hold myself to this standard! I Love each and every one of you to the bottom of my heart. Our memories will never be forgotten but our struggles is what makes us who we are today it’s what grew this love and will forever hold it together! i am the biggest fan of you, and biggest friend of you. Most importantly I am one phone call always if you need anything ever. Love you guys!”

It appears Gattis was either sick of being underpaid or sick of dealing with a head coach who was constantly looking to leave and who wouldn’t let him run a 21st-century offense. Regardless of the reason, he’s gone.

Since it’s already so late in the hiring cycle, it is unclear where Michigan will turn to solve their coordinator problems. Any assistant coach who’s worth his salt already has a job. And anyway, who would want to take a job where the departing staff is airing all kinds of dirty laundry on their way out the door? The Michigan football offices are looking more like Dunder Mifflin by the day, and Harbaugh is managing his staff about as well as Michael Scott during a fire drill.

https://twitter.com/dirtroaddiva1/status/1117119793172238341?s=20&t=M01tsYO33ELI1VKlNgmLsg

UM had a chance to ride the wave of their 2021 success, but instead, have crashed into the rocks.

Written by Bobby Carpenter

Bobby Carpenter is the resident college football expert at OutKick. He played linebacker for the Ohio State Buckeyes and won a National Championship in 2002. He played in the NFL for Dallas, Miami, Detroit and New England. Carpenter is a radio host on 97.1 The Fan in Columbus, Ohio, where he currently resides with his wife Cortney and their four children.

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