Michigan’s 1973 Coaching Staff

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As you may have heard, forty years ago today the University of Michigan Wolverines and Ohio State University Buckeyes played to a 10-10 tie on the gridiron. Both teams entered the game undefeated and untied, with the Buckeyes ranked #1 in the country and the Wolverines #4 in the land. The game, played in Ann Arbor before a crowd of 105,223, was a landmark for several reasons, not the least of which is that it served as the catalyst to enable more than one team from the Big Ten to go to a bowl game in a given season. The juniors on that 1973 Michigan team would go 30-2-1 in their careers (as freshmen, they weren’t eligible to play, per the rules of the day), and never get a sniff of a bowl game.

TheTeamTheTeamTheTeam Ian Ransley Design + Illustration

Hall of Fame Head Coaches Bo Schembechler and Woody Hayes built amazing assistant coaching staffs. On Michigan’s side, the remarkable 1973 assistant coaching group went on to have terrific careers in their own right. Of the nine assistant coaches on staff, six would go on to leave Michigan directly for Head Coaching positions elsewhere. Two others remained with Michigan as assistant coaches until they retired, and one would leave with Don Nehlen to become Nehlen’s Defensive Coordinator at West Virginia. Here’s a look at Michigan’s nine assistant coaches from that 1973 season:

Dennis Brown (Offensive Backs Coach in 1973, on Bo’s staff 1972-79): All Big Ten Quarterback for the University of Michigan in 1968. Brown went on to be an assistant coach under Bo Schembechler from 1972-79. When Don Nehlen left Michigan’s staff after the 1979 season to become Head Coach at West Virginia University, he took Brown with him, where Brown was his Defensive Coordinator from 1980-87. Among the players on his defense at WVU was Rich Rodriguez. Brown left WVU after the 1987 season to head to Arizona State, where he was Defensive Coordinator for two seasons. After coaching high school football in Detroit for a few years, Brown returned to the University of Michigan as an Assistant Athletic Director for two and a half years under Tom Goss. Brown spent several years as an Assistant Principal at Annapolis High School in Dearborn, a position from which he retired this past spring.

Tirrel Burton (Offensive Ends Coach in 1973; on Michigan’s staff 1970-1991): Burton coached for Bo at Michigan during the entire Schembechler era (except for 1969) and the first two seasons of the Moeller era. He started as the Freshman Coach in 1970-71; was Offensive Ends Coach from 1972-78; and Offensive Backfield Coach from 1979-91. Burton was a part of 14 Big Ten Championship coaching staffs and 10 Rose Bowl staffs.

Jerry Hanlon (Offensive Line Coach in 1973; on Michigan’s staff 1969-91): The legendary Hanlon was part of 15 Big Ten Championship coaching staffs and 11 Rose Bowl staffs. He is known mostly as an Offensive Line Coach, but he was the Quarterbacks Coach during the entire time that Jim Harbaugh was at Michigan (1982-86). Dennis Brown credits Hanlon with helping many people on and off the field, and had this to say, “Jerry Hanlon turned out such great offensive linemen that the pro coaches used to come and talk to him about teaching technique. Jerry used to have a saying, I’ll never forget, “level the bubble, level the bubble.” And those guys had such great technique when they got to the professional ranks they would come in and talk technique and stuff with Jerry. I know one year it was really heavy that he was going to the Green Bay Packers as the OL Coach. Jerry never left. He loved Bo, he loved being with Bo. And he loved Michigan.”

Jack Harbaugh (Defensive Backs Coach in 1973; on Michigan’s staff 1973-79): Harbaugh left Michigan after the 1979 season to take the Defensive Coordinator position with Stanford. He was with the Cardinal for two seasons before being named the Head Coach at Western Michigan, where one of his assistant coaches was Brady Hoke. In 2002 Harbaugh led Western Kentucky to the I-AA Championship and was named the American Coaches Association National Coach of the Year. Inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003, he is, of course, father of former Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh.

Frank Maloney (Defensive Line Coach in 1973; on Michigan’s staff 1968-73): A Michigan player from 1959-61, Maloney left Michigan after the 1973 season to become Head Coach at Syracuse, a position he held from 1974-80. After leaving Syracuse, he spent 29 years with the Chicago Cubs, including 27 years as Ticket Operations Director.

George Mans (Defensive Ends Coach in 1973; on Michigan’s staff 1966-1973): A teammate of Maloney’s at Michigan from 1959-61, he and Maloney were the only two assistant coaches from Bump Elliott’s regime to coach for Schembechler. Mans left Michigan after the 1973 season to become Head Coach at Eastern Michigan University, a position he held for two seasons. Mans later became Mayor of Trenton, Michigan, and also served in the Michigan House of Representatives.

Gary Moeller (Defensive Coordinator in 1973; a Michigan coach from 1969-76 and 1980-1994): Moeller left the Michigan coaching staff after the 1976 season to take the Head Coaching position at Illinois. After three seasons at Illinois, Moeller returned to Schembechler’s staff for the 1980 season. Moeller was Michigan’s first ever Offensive Coordinator (1987-89). He of course succeeded Schembechler as Michigan’s Head Coach after Bo’s 1989 retirement.

Chuck Stobart (Offensive Backfield Coach for Michigan from 1969-76): Stobart left the Wolverines to take over as Head Coach of the Toledo Rockets in 1977. He would later be Head Coach of both Utah (1982-84) and Memphis (1989-94).

Elliot Uzelac (Offensive Line Coach in 1973, a Michigan coach in 1973-74 and again from 1982-86): Left Michigan’s staff twice for Head Coaching jobs. He was Head Coach for Western Michigan from 1975-81 (and the MAC Coach of the Year in 1976), and Head Coach of Navy from 1987-89.

Note there was no Offensive Coordinator – Schembechler would not have one until 1987, when Gary Moeller took on the role.

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