On the Coaching Front: Michigan vs. Colorado 1994

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AP Photo/John Freilich

Silence. Eery silence. I have never heard 100,000 people be so quiet at the end of a football game. Twenty years ago, on September 24, 1994, I was one of 106,427 fans in The Big House, witnessing Kordell Stewart’s Hail Mary to Michael Westbrook, earning the Buffaloes a 27-26 victory over Michigan.

Walking amid the masses on the concourse after the game, I remember passing Don Canham, who was walking in the opposite direction. The stunned look on his face mirrored the rest of us.

Looking back from a coaching personnel perspective, it is amazing to see the Colorado staff’s numerous links to Bo Schembechler. On the field and on the coaching sidelines, the game featured a veritable Who’s Who of Michigan football. Here are some of the men who were on the field that day:

Links to Bo Schembechler:

Gary Moeller was Michigan’s Head Coach in 1994. Moeller coached under Schembechler at Michigan from 1969-76, and again from 1980-89 before taking over the head coaching reins for the 1990 season following Bo’s retirement.

Lloyd Carr was Michigan’s Defensive Coordinator that day. Carr was Michigan’s Defensive Backs Coach under Schembechler from 1980-86, becoming Defensive Coordinator for the Wolverines in 1987. He would of course later become Michigan’s Head Coach and lead the maize and blue to the National Championship in 1997. Carr was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

Les Miles was Michigan’s Offensive Line Coach in 1994. An offensive lineman under Schembechler from 1972-75, as a player he was part of three Big Ten Championship teams, yet none of those squads ever played in a Rose Bowl. Currently Head Coach at LSU, Miles led the Tigers to the 2007 National Championship. He was also named 2011 National Coach of the Year by AP, Home Depot, Walter Camp, and Liberty Mutual.

Jim Herrmann was Michigan’s Inside Linebackers Coach in 1994. A linebacker under Schembechler from 1979-82, as a player he was part of two Big Ten Championship and two Rose Bowl teams, including a Rose Bowl win to wrap up the 1980 season. His coaching career includes a collegiate National Championship and a Super Bowl Championship in the NFL. Herrmann is currently Linebackers Coach with the NFL’s New York Giants, where he has been since 2009. Herrmann was Defensive Coordinator for Michigan’s 1997 National Championship team. He also was Linebackers Coach for New York Giants Super Bowl XLVI championship team (2011 season).

Bill McCartney was Colorado’s Head Coach in 1994. McCartney was Defensive Ends Coach under Schembechler from 1974-76 and Defensive Coordinator from 1977-81, when Bob Ufer dubbed the Wolverines’ defense “McCartney’s Monsters.” McCartney led Colorado to the National Championship in 1990.

Elliot Uzelac was Colorado’s Offensive Coordinator in 1994. He had two stints on Schembechler’s coaching staff. The first was as Offensive Line Coach in 1972 and 1973; the second was again as Offensive Line Coach from 1982-86. Uzelac was Head Coach at Western Michigan from 1975-81, and Head Coach at Navy from 1987-89. He was named MAC’s Coach of Year in 1976.

Mike Hankwitz was Colorado’s Defensive Coordinator in 1994. A member of Schembechler’s first team in 1969, Hankwitz was a tight end for Michigan from 1966-69. Hankwitz is currently Defensive Coordinator with the Northwestern Wildcats of the Big Ten, where he has been since 2008. Hankwitz was Defensive Coordinator for Colorado’s 1990 National Championship Team.

Chuck Heater was Colorado’s Secondary Coach in 1994. A running back under Schembechler from 1971-74, Heater was a part of four Big Ten Championship teams and one Rose Bowl team. Heater is currently Defensive Coordinator with the Marshall Thundering Herd of the Conference USA, where he has been since 2013. Heater was on staff of 1988 Notre Dame National Champion Team, and 2006 and 2008 Florida National Championship Teams.

Michigan Players on the Field Now in the Coaching Ranks:

Matt Dyson, Michigan linebacker, now Head Coach George Mason University’s club football team.

Mike Elston, Michigan linebacker, now Defensive Line Coach, Notre Dame.

Harold Goodwin, Michigan offensive lineman, now Offensive Coordinator, Arizona Cardinals. An assistant coach on three Super Bowl teams, Goodwin earned one Super Bowl ring as an Offensive Assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII.

Scot Loeffler, Michigan quarterback, now Offensive Coordinator, Virginia Tech.

Tyrone Wheatley, Michigan running back, now Running Backs Coach, Buffalo Bills.

Current Michigan Coaches on Michigan’s 1994 Staff:

Greg Mattison was Michigan’s Defensive Line Coach in 1994. Mattison joined Michigan’s staff in 1992 and was Defensive Line Coach his first three seasons before becoming Defensive Coordinator for the 1995 and 1996 campaigns. He of course rejoined Michigan’s staff as Defensive Coordinator in 2011 under Brady Hoke. Mattison was Defensive Coordinator for Florida’s 2006 National Championship Team.

Fred Jackson was Michigan’s Running Backs Coach in 1994. Jackson joined Michigan’s staff under Gary Moeller in 1992, and has been Running Backs Coach for all but two seasons since (he was Offensive Coordinator in 1995 and 1996). Jackson has coached under 4 of Michigan’s 19 Head Coaches (Moeller, Carr, Rodriguez, and Hoke).

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Brady Hoke’s Michigan Trendline

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With Team 135 set to kick off the season in 11 days, Fergodsakes.com wanted to review where Brady Hoke ranks, according to the numbers, in the pantheon of Michigan football coaches.

Brady Hoke is 26-13 as Michigan’s Head Coach. Among the nine coaches who have been Head Coach of Michigan football for 39 games, Hoke’s 26 wins ranks tied for seventh.

Start of 2014 season

The immortal Fielding H. Yost leads the way with 38.5 wins (Yost had 38 wins and one tie in his first 39 games; for purposes of counting wins, ties are counted as half of a win). Michigan coaches averaged nearly 30 wins in their first 39 games; the median number of wins in their first 39 games is 31 wins.

Coach Hoke got off to a great start at Michigan, going 11-2 in his first season. Somewhere along the line his trendline tapered off. Where did Hoke stop “keeping up with the Joneses?”

Trendline Graph thru 39 games

There are three factors that have contributed to Hoke not keeping pace with Michigan coaching legends of the past. The first is the miserable last six games of the 2013 season, starting with the game in East Lansing against Michigan State. Including the bowl game, Michigan was 1-5 in those last six games. Prior to that, Hoke’s trendline was actually tracking above that of Michigan coaches of the past, and was tracking right along with National Championship coaches of the BCS era.

The second factor contributing to Brady Hoke’s record not keeping pace with Michigan coaching legends of the past is the remarkable success of Michigan football. As Head Coach of Michigan football, Hoke has a winning percentage of 0.667 through 39 games, yet this ranks in a tie for seventh out of nine coaches who have coached at least 39 games for the maize and blue. Of the nine head coaches with 39 games under their belt for Michigan, five have won national titles; another is named Schembechler; two others are Gary Moeller and Bump Elliott; and one is Brady Hoke. With Michigan as the leader in total wins in all of college football, Hoke has some incredibly high standards to try to live up to. The college football landscape has changed in the last few decades, and there is more high level competition in any given year than there ever was before. There are incredibly talented players in every NCAA football program. I’m not sure the same could be said for the Yost era, or even the Schembechler era.

The third factor is the Rich Rodriguez Effect. Rodriguez was 15-22 as Michigan’s Head Coach. He coached a total of 37 games for the Wolverines, and his win total dragged down the average number of wins by Michigan coaches through those 37 games. But starting with Game 38, Rodriguez’s record no longer factored into the trendline of wins by Michigan coaches simply because Rodriguez never coached 38 games for Michigan. In short, Hoke’s trendline is now comparing to the more successful Michigan coaches – those who have been around for at least the same number of games as Hoke (39 games entering the 2014 season).

This 2014 season, Hoke’s fourth with Michigan, will be interesting in terms of Hoke’s trendline. Fergodsakes will be tracking it throughout the year.

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Big East Matchup Includes Former Carr Assistants

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Fergodsakes.com previews the college football games each weekend involving a University of Michigan Wolverine coaching connection. Former Michigan players, coaches, and former Brady Hoke assistant coaches are roaming the sidelines as coaches of various college programs (for Fergodsakes.com’s University of Michigan football coaching trees, click here). Their schedules for this weekend (games listed in chronological order within header section; all games on Saturday unless otherwise noted):

Former Wolverines Coaching Against Each Other

Cincinnati at Louisville, Friday, 8:00pm ET, ESPN
Roy Manning, (linebacker 2000-04); and
Steve Stripling (Defensive Line Coach 2005-07): University of Cincinnati. Manning is Running Backs Coach, and Stripling is Defensive Line Coach.
Vance Bedford (DB Coach 1995-98, and in 2007): Now University of Louisville Defensive Coordinator.
Stripling and Bedford coached on the defense together on Lloyd Carr’s last staff in 2007. Team 128 was 9-4, finishing second in the Big Ten. Lowlights include the Appalachian State game; highlights include the Capital One Bowl victory over Florida.
This season, Louisville is undefeated (7-0) and 16th in the BCS. Cincinnati is 5-1, its lone loss last week at Toledo. Louisville blog In the Huddle takes a look at Louisville-Cincinnati football history.

Former Michigan Players and Coaches

Chuck Heater (running back 1971-74): Now Temple Owls Defensive Coordinator. The Owls, 3-3, are at Pitt in a noon ET game on ESPN3.

Marcus Knight (wide receiver 1996-99): A senior on Team 120, Knight is now Northern Michigan University Wide Receivers Coach. The Wildcats, 2-6, are at Northwood in a noon ET game.

Erik Campbell (wide receiver 1984-87 and WR Coach 1995-2007): A senior on Team 108, Campbell is now Iowa Hawkeyes Wide Receivers Coach. The Hawkeyes, 4-3, are at Northwestern in a noon ET game on ESPN2.

Doug Mallory (defensive back 1983-87 and Captain in ‘87); and
Greg Frey (OL Coach 2008-10): Indiana Hoosiers. Mallory is co-Defensive Coordinator and Frey is Offensive Line Coach. The Hoosiers, 2-5, are at Illinois in a noon ET game on the Big Ten Network.

Jim Lyall (defensive lineman 1970-73); and
Robert Thornbladh (fullback 2006): Lyall is now Head Coach of Siena Heights Saints; Thornbladh is Outside Linebackers Coach. The Saints, 3-5, are at 13th ranked St. Francis in a noon game.

Anthony Thomas (running back 1997-2000): Now Assistant Head Coach and Special Teams Coordinator for the Division II West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats. A senior on Team 115, Thomas left Michigan as the all-time leading rusher in program history. The Bobcats, 2-6, are at West Virginia State in a 1:00pm ET game.

Matt Dyson (linebacker 1990-94): A senior on Team 115, Dyson is now Head Coach for George Mason University. A club team, the Patriots (2-4) are at Longwood University at 1:00pm ET.

Kurt Anderson (offensive lineman 1997-2001);
Mike Hart (running back 2004-07);
Ron English (DB Coach and Def Coord 2003-07): All 3 now at Eastern Michigan – Anderson the OL Coach, Hart the RB Coach, and English the Head Coach. The 1-6 Eagles are at Bowling Green in a 3:30pm ET matchup on ESPN3.

Tony Dews (WR Coach 2008-10);
Tony Gibson (Secondary Coach 2008-10);
Calvin McGee (Offensive Coordinator 2008-10); and
Rod Smith (QB Coach 2008-10): All with the Arizona Wildcats – Dews as WR Coach; Gibson as Safeties Coach; McGee as O Coordinator; and Smith as QB Coach. The Wildcats, 4-3 host USC at 3:30pm ET, 12:30pm PT on ABC/ESPN2.

Nick Sheridan (quarterback 2006-09): Now Western Kentucky University Quarterbacks Coach. The Hilltoppers, 5-2, are at Florida International in a 6:00pm ET game on ESPN3.

Adam Braithwaite (Safeties Coach, 2010): Now UT Chattanooga Safeties Coach. The Mocs, 4-3, host Georgia Southern at 6:00pm ET.

Tyrone Wheatley (running back 1991-94);
Steve Morrison (linebacker 1990-94); and
Scott Shafer (D Coordinator 2008): Syracuse University. Wheatley is Running Backs Coach; Morrison is Linebackers Coach; and Shafer is Defensive Coordinator. The Orange, 3-4, are at the University of South Florida in a 7:00pm game on ESPNU.

Scot Loeffler (quarterback 1993-96 and QB Coach 2002-07): Now Auburn University Offensive Coordinator. The Tigers, 1-7, host Texas A&M in a 7:00pm ET game on ESPNU. Here’s the latest on speculation about Loeffler’s job.

Jay Hopson (Linebackers Coach 2008-09): Now Head Coach of Alcorn State. The Braves, 3-5, have a bye this week.

Les Miles (offensive lineman 1972-75 and Offensive Line Coach 1987-94): A senior on Team 96, Miles is now Head Coach of LSU. The 7-1 Tigers, ranked #6 in the BCS, have a bye week as they prepare for #1 Alabama next Saturday.

Bruce Tall (Defensive Line Coach 2008-10): Now UNC Charlotte Defensive Coordinator. The 49ers will begin play in 2013.

Brady Hoke Coaching Tree

Sidney Powell (Secondary Coach for three seasons for Hoke at Ball State): Now Tennessee Tech Secondary Coach. The Golden Eagles, 2-5 and a member of the FCS, are at Tennessee State at 1:00pm ET.

Eddie Faulkner (Running Backs Coach for Hoke at Ball State 2005-08): Now Wisconsin Badgers Tight Ends Coach. The Badgers, 6-2, host Michigan State in a 3:30pm ET game on ABC/ESPN2.

Don Treadwell (Hoke’s first Offensive Coordinator at Ball State in 2003); and
Ed Stults (variety of coaching positions under Hoke from 2003-08 at Ball State): Miami University Redhawks. Treadwell is Head Coach; Stults is Offensive Line Coach. The Redhawks, 3-4, host Ohio (the Bobcats) at 3:30pm ET on ESPN3. The Plain Dealer previews the matchup.

Trent Boykin (Brady Hoke’s Running Backs Coach for two seasons at Ball State): Running Backs Coach for Akron Zips. Akron, 1-7, is at Central Michigan at 3:30pm ET.

John Powers (assistant coach to Brady Hoke at Ball State from 2006-08). Now Bethune-Cookman’s Offensive Line Coach. The Wildcats, 5-2, are home against North Carolina Central at 4:00pm ET.

Rocky Long, Brian Sipe, Tony White, and LeCharls McDaniel (all on Hoke’s staff at San Diego State) remain with San Diego State. Long is Head Coach; Sipe is QB Coach; White is Cornerbacks Coach; and McDaniel is WR Coach. The Aztecs, 5-3, host UNLV at 8:00pm ET, 5:00pm PT on TWC SN.

Eric Lewis (Hoke’s Defensive Backs Coach at Ball State): Now Weber State’s Cornerbacks Coach. The Wildcats, 1-7, have a bye this week.

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Catching Up With Marcus Knight

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Marcus Knight, 1997 National Champion, 2-time Big 10 Champion, Rose Bowl Champion, and 3-1 against the Buckeyes during his career (1996-99) with Michigan, is presently the Wide Receivers Coach at Northern Michigan University. Fergodsakes.com caught up with Marcus recently to discuss his coaching career and more.

“Ever since I was a young boy, I wanted to inspire young kids,” says Marcus Knight. Watching his older brother Dameian Jefferies win a National Title with Alabama in 1992 left an impression. “It let me know the effects sports and success could have on a young person.”

Knight ended up at Northern Michigan by the “grace of God. I am truly blessed to be here.” 2012 will be his first season with the Wildcats after spending the prior 4 years with Valparaiso, where he earned his Masters in Sports Administration.

The preparation Knight puts in for a game, for a season, is altogether different than when he was a player. As he says, former players such as himself wish they knew then what they know now in terms of how to play the game. “As a coach I have had an awesome experience learning the ins and the outs of the game. The game is really simple when you get right down to it, even though the so-called experts will try to make you think it is difficult. The preparation that you put in as a coach, the hours that you put in, are well worth it when the results turn out the way you want.”

His goals for his coaching career are very structured, taking one thing into account at a time. His first goal is to have one of the best receiving cores in the nation. He wants to have good players who are willing to play hard and work hard. Following that, he would like to move up to Offensive Coordinator one day, and if things work out, move up the ladder to be a Head Coach “at some level.”

How does he get his players prepared to play? Coach Knight talks about his philosophy: “If you ask too much of your players too soon, they may not be ready. You groom the type of players in your group, you try to figure out as fast as you can what the players can do, how they learn, and how they can be pushed. It all starts in recruiting – I recruit what I feel can best help the group. I want a young man who is highly coachable, who is a leader. Being a leader is a big part of it. I want someone who wants to be better, who knows that he doesn’t know everything.”

As a coach, Knight has taken bits of all of his coaches, from the high school level on up. “They all had a different style,” he says of his high school coach, of Coach Lloyd Carr, of Coach John Gruden. He absorbed information from each of them, and molded it into his own. He appreciated how Carr was a father figure, and says that his position coach, Erik Campbell, was the same way. And as he says, his Michigan Brothers during the time he played had as good a feeling as you could have playing with each other – that family feeling is something he took from his Michigan days.

Coach Brady Hoke was Defensive Line Coach at Michigan during the years that Knight played for the Wolverines. Even though Hoke was on the opposite side of the ball, Knight had a good feeling about him back then. “He always had a smile on his face, always took the time to speak with you. You appreciate that. Sometimes in this business famous people don’t have time for you – Coach Hoke is not like that at all. He is a gentleman and always had a kind word to say. Everyone would see his name in a positive light.” Knight views it as the “Tom Brady effect” – in Brady’s case, despite some ups and downs at Michigan, “you knew that he had potential to do great things in his career.” He saw the same thing with Hoke, and that feeling became solidified when Hoke had success at Ball State and San Diego State. Knight was excited when Hoke got the Michigan Head Coaching job – he knows that Hoke is a Michigan Man and understands how to be successful in the program. This is exemplified in recruiting – “every parent is looking for someone to trust with their young man. Parents feel safe with Coach Hoke.”

As for recruiting in general, Knight says that parents need to feel that you, as a coach, are going to take care of their young man. In coaching 18-22 year olds, 60 percent of Knight’s effort is geared towards helping the young men off the field, in “developing young men to make right decisions.” Not only do you want them to make right decisions off the field, but those decision-making skills are vital for on-field success. “Every play involves many decisions that need to be made. If you make the right decisions most of the time, you will be successful. If you don’t, you will struggle. It comes down to having a grasp of the young men in your group and on your team, and being able to trust them.”

Knight ended our talk by saying, “Let everyone know I am Go Blue on September 1 against Alabama. Even though all my family is from there, and my brother won a National Championship there, there is no doubt that I am Michigan through and through. I am predicting a Michigan win comfortably.”

Keep up with Marcus Knight on Facebook.

Follow Northern Michigan University football on the web; and NMU Athletics on Twitter @NMUAthletics; and on Facebook.

Where are former Michigan players and coaches coaching today? Fergodsakes.com will have occasional features on those men who have graced the sideline representing the maize and blue.

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