Big Ten: Jay Hopson

Opening camp: Michigan

August, 9, 2010
8/09/10
5:30
PM ET
Schedule: Rich Rodriguez and the Wolverines are on the field right now in Ann Arbor for their first preseason practice.

What's new: After losing linebackers coach Jay Hopson to Memphis, Rodriguez promoted Adam Braithwaite to safeties and outside linebackers coach. He also added special teams to the plate of secondary coach Tony Gibson, who will continue to work with free safeties and cornerbacks. Defensive coordinator Greg Robinson will work with the linebackers. There was a lot of talk this spring about the 3-3-5 defensive alignment, as Michigan must replace standouts Brandon Graham and Donovan Warren.

Sidelined: Defensive lineman Will Heininger (knee) is the only player out because of injury, and he might not play this season. Running back Vincent Smith is expected to be 100 percent for camp after undergoing offseason knee surgery. Running back Mike Shaw appears on the team's 2010 roster, although he had some eligibility issues to clear up with summer school.

Key battle: You might have heard, but Michigan's quarterback spot is undecided and Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson resume the competition today. The Wolverines also need to identify a featured running back or two, and Smith, Shaw, Michael Cox and Fitzgerald Toussaint are in the mix. Kenny Demens will push Obi Ezeh at middle linebacker, and J.T. Floyd looks to cement himself as a starting cornerback opposite Troy Woolfolk. Both kick specialist jobs also are up for grabs.

New on the scene: Michigan still needs its freshmen to play, especially on defense. Look out for defensive back Cullen Christian, defensive lineman Richard Ash and linebacker Marvin Robinson, among others. In a perfect world, Michigan could redshirt quarterback Devin Gardner, but if he's the best option, Rodriguez won't hesitate to play the freshman.

Back in the fold: Center David Molk was Michigan's best offensive lineman before knee problems cut short his 2009 season. After a strong offseason, Molk will boost a line that has enough talent and depth to be the team's biggest strength this fall. Receiver Junior Hemingway, who had a strong start last fall before being sidelined by mononucleosis, also returns to the mix.

Breaking out: If Denard Robinson builds on his spring performance, he could be the difference maker for Michigan's offense this fall. Receiver Roy Roundtree could be on the verge of bigger things after leading the team in receptions (32), receiving yards (434) and receiving touchdowns (3) last year. Hopes are high for defensive end/linebacker Craig Roh, who recorded 7.5 tackles for loss as a true freshman in 2009. Safety Cam Gordon was the star of spring practice and could be poised for a big year.

Quotable: "There's a lot of hungry football players up in Ann Arbor, and I think they're as excited as I am to get going. We have some questions, certainly, on both sides of the ball." -- head coach Rich Rodriguez
The Big Ten was the only major conference to avoid head-coaching changes this offseason, but the league certainly had its share of staff shuffling with assistants coming and going. Indiana's hiring of Mo Moriarity as offensive line coach on Monday marked one of the last turns on this year's Big Ten coaching carousel. Wisconsin still needs to hire a defensive assistant, but things are just about wrapped up.

Barring any late coaching changes, here's a look at who's gone, who's back and who's in new roles.

ILLINOIS

Offensive coordinator


  • Who's out: Mike Schultz (fired)
  • Who's in: Paul Petrino (previously offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach at Arkansas)
Defensive coordinator

  • Who's out: Dan Disch and Curt Mallory both were demoted to position coaches. Disch is staying on staff as linebackers coach.
  • Who's in: Vic Koenning (previously co-defensive coordinator at Kansas State)
Quarterbacks coach

  • Who's out: Kurt Beathard (fired)
  • Who's in: Jeff Brohm (previously quarterbacks coach at Florida Atlantic)
Tight ends coach

  • Who's out: Jim Pry (fired)
  • Who's in: Greg Nord (previously running backs coach/recruiting coordinator at Louisville)
Running backs coach

  • Who's out: Reggie Mitchell (left to become running backs coach/recruiting coordinator at Kansas)
  • Who's in: DeAndre Smith (previously running backs coach at UNLV)
Other moves

  • Mallory left his position as secondary coach to become defensive coordinator at Akron.
  • Special-teams coordinator Mike Woodford was fired along with Schultz, Beathard and Pry.
  • Ron West was hired as a defensive assistant. His official responsibilities have not been announced.
INDIANA

Offensive line coach

  • Who's out: Bobby Johnson (left to become assistant offensive line coach with the Buffalo Bills)
  • Who's in: Myron "Mo" Moriarity (previously served as head coach at Carmel (Ind.) High School
IOWA

No staff changes, but recruiting coordinator Eric Johnson was named tight ends coach. Wide receivers coach Erik Campbell previously had worked with the tight ends, while Johnson had helped Darrell Wilson with the linebackers.

MICHIGAN

Linebackers coach

  • Who's out: Jay Hopson (left to become defensive coordinator at Memphis)
  • Who's in: Quality control assistant Adam Braithwaite was promoted to outside linebackers/strong safeties coach. Defensive coordinator Greg Robinson will take a more active role with the linebackers in 2010.
Other moves

  • Secondary coach Tony Gibson will continue to work with cornerbacks and free safeties, and also serve as special-teams coordinator.
MICHIGAN STATE

Running backs coach

  • Who's out: Dan Enos (left to become head coach at Central Michigan)
  • Who's in: Brad Salem (previously served as head coach at Augustana College)
MINNESOTA

Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach

  • Who's out: Jedd Fisch (left to become quarterbacks coach with the Seattle Seahawks)
  • Who's in: Jeff Horton (previously served as quarterbacks coach with the Detroit Lions)
Wide receivers coach

  • Who's out: Richard Hightower (left to become assistant special-teams coach for the Washington Redskins)
  • Who's in: Steve Watson (previously served as associate head coach with the Denver Broncos in 2008)
Other moves

  • Running backs coach Thomas Hammock was named co-offensive coordinator
NORTHWESTERN

No coaching changes

OHIO STATE

No coaching changes

PENN STATE

No coaching changes

PURDUE

Defensive line coach

  • Who's out: Terrell Williams (left to become defensive line coach at Texas A&M)
  • Who's in: Gary Emanuel (previously served as defensive line coach at Rutgers). Emanuel also was named co-defensive coordinator with a focus on run defense.
WISCONSIN

Defensive backs coach

  • Who's out: Kerry Cooks (left to become outside linebackers coach at Notre Dame)
  • Who's in: Chris Ash (previously served as defensive backs coach/recruiting coordinator at Iowa State)
Other moves

  • Randall McCray, who served as Wisconsin's recruiting coordinator and assistant secondary coach, left to become defensive coordinator at Middle Tennessee. Wisconsin has yet to fill the vacancy.
Michigan has filled its coaching-staff vacancy by promoting from within.

Head coach Rich Rodriguez on Thursday named Adam Braithwaite as the team's new outside linebackers/safeties coach. Braithwaite, a defensive quality control assistant for the last two years at U-M, fills the vacancy left by Jay Hopson, who left in December to become Memphis' new defensive coordinator.

Hopson had coached Michigan's linebackers, a group that now will be overseen by defensive coordinator Greg Robinson. Braithwaite will assist Robinson with the outside linebackers and handle the strong safeties. Assistant head coach Tony Gibson will coach cornerbacks and free safeties, and serve as special teams coordinator. Gibson previously had coached the entire secondary.

"We are excited to promote Adam to be our safeties/outside linebackers coach," said Rodriguez. "He has been a loyal hard-working member of our staff for several years and knows our system. I believe he will bring a lot of energy both in coaching and recruiting."



The division of responsibilities among the defensive assistants is interesting, but Braithwaite, Robinson and Gibson will have to work well together to improve a group that really struggled in 2009. Braithwaite played at William & Mary and worked as a graduate assistant for Rodriguez at West Virginia before becoming defensive coordinator at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.

Rodriguez interviewed former Marshall head coach Mark Snyder and a few other bigger names for this vacancy. Braithwaite should transition well given his familiarity with the Wolverines personnel.

More notes from Michigan

February, 3, 2010
2/03/10
5:34
PM ET
Michigan might not be an elite program right now, but the Wolverines continue to generate the most headlines in the Big Ten.

Things got pretty testy at head coach Rich Rodriguez's signing day news conference earlier, as the coach fielded several questions about top recruit Demar Dorsey, who has a checkered legal past. Rodriguez said Michigan researches every prospect it recruits and urged reporters not to pass judgment until they know the full story.

"Don't judge on something until you get all the facts," he said. "Any time there's a situation, we look at it as well and we find out the whole story. A lot of times, there's more to a story than people understand. ... There's nobody on this football team that we would sign that has a felony conviction. There's nobody on this football team we would sign that has a misdemeanor conviction."

After another question about Dorsey's past, Rodriguez fumed, "Everyone wants to be negative. We have such a great place here. We've got wonderful people, we've got a great university, we've got players working their tails off. And everybody wants to be negative. Can't we be positive?"

Other items of note:

  • Rodriguez said defensive coordinator Greg Robinson will coach the Wolverines' linebackers this year. Michigan still has a vacancy after Jay Hopson's departure to Memphis, and the new coach will work primarily with the safeties, a critical position group this fall.
  • Rodriguez said one Big Ten school was "negative recruiting quite a bit," though the school wasn't Ohio State.
  • Michigan has no plans to move Denard Robinson from the quarterback spot. Starting quarterback Tate Forcier has been dealing with a "slight tear" in his shoulder.
  • Also, the Detroit Free Press reported that Michigan's board of regents held a special session Wednesday morning to get an update on the NCAA's investigation into potential violations by the football team.
Barring a surprise, Michigan linebackers coach Jay Hopson will become Memphis' new defensive coordinator.

Memphis head coach Larry Porter has recommended Hopson to the Tennessee Board of Regents. These recommendations almost always are approved, so expect Hopson to leave his post in Ann Arbor.

This seems like a good move for Hopson, who served as Southern Miss' defensive coordinator from 2005 to 2007 before joining Rich Rodriguez's staff at Michigan. Also, there were no guarantees that Rodriguez would keep his defensive staff intact, especially after a poor performance on that side of the ball for the second straight season.

Linebackers Stevie Brown (1st), Obi Ezeh (3rd) and Jonas Mouton (4th) ranked as three of Michigan's top four tacklers this season, but it wasn't a banner year for the crew. Ezeh's numbers dipped, and Michigan ranked 10th in the Big Ten against the run (171.9 ypg).

If Hopson is approved as Memphis' D-coordinator, Rodriguez should absolutely go after former Notre Dame assistant Corwin Brown as a replacement. Brown, who played at Michigan, is a tremendous recruiter who has coached with Notre Dame and the New York Jets. New Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly didn't retain Brown on his new staff.

Brown to Michigan seems like a no-brainer, as long as he wants the job.

Big Ten lunch links

July, 22, 2009
7/22/09
12:30
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

One day closer to actual football. The offseason is waaaay too long. 

Spring Q&A: Michigan's Greg Robinson

February, 25, 2009
2/25/09
11:34
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

This is the first installment of a weekly interview series with a Big Ten coach or player that will appear on the blog from now until the end of spring practice.

First up is Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, who joined Rich Rodriguez's staff last month after four seasons as Syracuse's head coach. Robinson has previously served as defensive coordinator for three NFL teams as well as Texas in 2004. He takes over a Michigan defense that ranked 10th in the Big Ten in points allowed (28.9 ppg) and ninth in yards allowed (366.9).

 
  AP Photo/Al Behrman
  Former Syracuse head coach Greg Robinson is looking forward to the new challenges as defensive coordinator for Michigan.
I caught up with Robinson this morning between house-hunting trips in Ann Arbor. 

This is probably a good time to be in the housing market, right?

Greg Robinson: It is. The problem with that is I've got one to sell in Syracuse [laughs]. We're trying to get it all solved.

How has it been transitioning back to a coordinator spot after being a head coach and overseeing an entire program?

GR: It's less to do, but at the same time, you're diving back in full throttle, which has been great. I'm back doing what I know pretty well. 

You were pretty honest after things ended at Syracuse about how the journey for you there wasn't finished, there were still things you wanted to do. Has it been helpful to get back into it, getting ready for spring practice and another season, or is it still a transition?

GR: No, I'm glad that I'm here and I'm glad I was able to do it quickly. I needed to move away from what I was doing. That was frustrating for me at the end because I felt like we were beginning to show what we could be down the road. I knew what was coming back. The core of the team was coming back, and really, the guys who were the biggest players on the team were younger players. 

But getting away from it and getting back in has been very helpful. Being here is exciting, and it's really where my thoughts are now. I work hard to maintain that, but it's moving forward. I can't sit there and dwell on what could have or should have been.

What has your schedule been like the last few weeks as far as meetings?

GR: Most of the time has been spent with the assistants, just kind of pecking away and getting on the same page with things. But also, just getting to know the players, that's the biggest thing. I've had a chance to study some of their film, I've had a chance to visit with 'em and talk with different guys. All that is very important, just establishing relationships, really. I don't know if I've met with every guy, but I've touched base with just about everybody. 

As far as studying the film, anything stand out to you?

GR: I'm just trying to formulate some opinions as far as athletic ability. I'm not worried so much about scheme and those kinds of things as trying to see how people would fit in what we're doing and what we're attempting to do. That's really what it is, trying to get a feel as best you can of what the talent level is and how you can utilize different people. 

You talked last month about not getting too wrapped up in 3-4, 4-3, alignment stuff. Is there a time where you'll start formulate that, or are you going to wait to see how guys look in the spring? 

GR: No, we'll have a plan going into spring ball. You don't just go out there and play. We'll have the ability to be a four-man front and the ability to be a three-man front. I've done that, really, since I was at the New York Jets to the Denver Broncos to the Kansas City Chiefs to [University of Texas] and at Syracuse, where we have had some hybrid-type players who can play defensive end or linebacker. We'll continue to do those types of things. Then, as you get to working with people, you realize some strengths that maybe were unnoticed that you could take advantage of, and then you work hard to work those kinds of things into the scheme. 

Who are the guys you've identified to be the hybrid-type players?

GR: I'm not going to get into all those names right now. We haven't been on the practice field yet. We have some people there, but before I make a commitment of who's what, I want to see them. I don't know if I can get into the personnel stuff. 

You mentioned talking a lot with the other defensive assistants. As a guy who didn't hire any of those guys, how has that process been with a new staff?

GR: I've been very pleased and I feel very comfortable with the group that we're working with. Bruce Tall, the defensive line coach, and Tony Gibson, the secondary coach, those guys have worked together a number of years. Jay Hopson is a guy that's been around their program. I'm very fortunate to have a group of guys who really know football. I like their foundation of fundamentals as well as understanding schematics and things like that. Our graduate assistant group is a good group to work with. Really, I've been very comfortable and I look forward to getting out on the practice field. 

As far as Rich, how have those discussions gone and where are you two in terms of philosophy?

GR: We spent a lot of time talking about those things early, when I came in. I have a good feel for the things he believes in as a defensive football team. I don't think we're very far off in anything philosophically. I can adapt to anything that he has interest in. Philosophically, we're on the same page. The things that are really important to him, I feel very comfortable that I can satisfy those kinds of things. It comes down to effort, philosophical-type things.

As we've talked, I know that there's nothing that's a red flag where I say, 'This is something very different in the thinking.' I just go about my business. 

Has it been similar to working with other head coaches? 

GR: I haven't been on a practice field [with Rodriguez] yet, but I've been very fortunate. I worked for Mack Brown, I worked for Dick Vermeil, I worked for Mike Shanahan, I worked for Pete [Carroll], I worked for Terry Donahue. No one was exactly the same as the other. Worked for Monte Kiffin. Rich has his way, but I know this: he's a good football coach. And I don't mean just as an offensive football coach. I like his style as a head football coach. Just being around him here, the things I was expecting to see from him, I'm seeing first hand. 

Every relationship is a little different, but I look forward to developing our relationship as time goes on here. 

When you looked at your options after Syracuse, was he the biggest reason that drew you to this job? Or
was it just Michigan and the tradition and being in the Big Ten?

GR: It's really all of the above. I had avenues that I could have really looked into that didn't necessarily appeal to me that might have been very appealing to other people. I could have gone the way of the NFL, I could have stayed in college. But I saw this opportunity was here and I weighed it. I've competed against Michigan, from way back in the 80s to obviously the [2005] Rose Bowl a few years back. I know what this program is all about. I know the history and the tradition of the program.

On top of that, it was Rich Rodriguez coaching here. I respect Rich, and on top of that, I like him. I thought, 'I'm going to contact him because I think that this is a good situation that I think I can do well in. It can be a wonderful situation for my wife and I, because it's a great program with a fine football coach.'

You mentioned last month about building the attitude on defense. Are there things you do early in spring practice to form it? What needs to go into it?

GR: I would never imply that I'm trying to make something different than what things were. I'm just going to coach defense the way I know how to coach defense. I know this: This defense will not be outhustled. We will fly around, we will hit, we will play together as a group. You'll sense an enthusiasm about them that they really enjoy playing together. As we get to know the athletes that we like, their talents, we'll be a very tough defense to deal with.

I know you don't want to get too much into personnel, but overall it's still a very young team at Michigan. You lose some guys on the defensive line. As far as working with young guys, what are the pros and cons being a new coordinator to the program?

GR: I just think in all cases, be it the secondary, the linebackers and the D-line, you have to walk before you can run. We have to establish a fundamental foundation. That's paramount. And I take great pride in going back to my days at UCLA and Louisville. I was coached by Jim Colletto as a position coach, who was at UCLA from way back with Red Sanders and Tommy Prothro. It was always about fundamentals. Jim was a great coach of fundamentals, and I was raised that way.

I spent eight years in that UCLA program, and I really believe that's a foundation in anywhere I've ever been that we have to be fundamentally sound in the way that we play the game and how we function. The fundamentals are really important. We have to emphasize those this spring. At the same time, you want to give them some tools to use as far as schematics are concerned, where you can tax the offense.

We want to put the offense on their heels, but you've got to be careful because when you have young players, they can only absorb so much at a time. That's something you have to have a feel for and see where you're at and keep stepping back as a staff and evaluating where are we at this time and go from there.

Does this situation remind you of other ones you've been in before in terms of coming in to a team that struggled the year before and wants to get back to what it's known for doing?

GR: My last experience before Syracuse was at Texas, and that's exactly what the situation was. At Texas, they had kind of grown stale and year before I got there, they struggled on [defense]. In Kansas City, I was walking into a situation that was similar to that as well. In Denver, they were the worst defense in the league when I went in there, and in two years, we were the No. 1 defense in the AFC.

They're all different, but I do think that this one is a situation where it just didn't click. That's really paramount for us as a staff defensively to get on the same page and get rolling.  

Big Ten mailbag

January, 13, 2009
1/13/09
9:00
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Step into my office ...

Brian from Batavia, Ill., writes: Adam, I think we all need to watch out for a huge break out season from Thaddeus Gibson this next year. We saw that he has the game breaker ability when he returned a fumble this year for a touchdown! He had a solid Fiesta Bowl (even though he got flagged for personnel fouls???), but i was wondering what players also are bound to have huge breakout seasons this next year?

Adam Rittenberg: Brian, I completely agree with you on Thad Gibson. He was a force during the second half of the season and really made the Buckeyes' defensive line better. I look for huge things from him in 2009. Other guys who should step up next fall include Penn State linebacker Navorro Bowman, Michigan defensive end Brandon Graham, Iowa running back Jewel Hampton, Northwestern safety Brad Phillips, Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber, Illinois linebacker Martez Wilson and Ohio State wide receiver DeVier Posey. I could go on and on.


Rob from Seattle writes: Who do you think RichRod WILL get to fill the DC vacancy at Michigan, and who do you think he SHOULD get? I think Corwin Brown would be a great fit - he's played and coached the 3-4 and 3-3 defenses, he's got Michigan roots (which Rod could REALLY use) and he should be available, given the situation at ND.

Adam Rittenberg: That's an interesting take, Rob. I doubt Corwin would want to leave Notre Dame for another coordinator spot, but you never know. It's a bit of an odd arrangement in South Bend with Brown and Jon Tenuta, but Brown has some loyalty to Charlie Weis. I don't see him leaving unless it's a head-coaching position. The fact Rich Rodriguez hasn't promoted another assistant (Jay Hopson) suggests he'll be talking to candidates this week at the AFCA Convention. West Virginia defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel would seem like a good fit, but he didn't join Rodriguez the first time around at Michigan. I think Rich wants to go with a three-man front, so he should find someone who specializes in that alignment.


Brian from New York writes: Dear Adam, Watching Terrelle Pryor in the Fiesta Bowl evade tacklers in the open field and catch that fade pass for a TD over a hapless Texas DB had me wondering. Is Terrelle Pryor in fact a better pro prospect at WR rather than QB. OSU will win more with him at QB, but if he spent the next two years learning how to run precise pass routes instead of fixing his subpar throwing mechanics (which clearly have a long way to go), he could become unstoppable in college and perhaps the next Randy Moss at the pro level with his combination of size, speed, and hand-eye coordination. Then again, he could just wait until he graduates to switch over to WR like Matt Jones or Antwan Randle El, but I'm assuming some NFL scouts have already started thinking about this possibility.

Adam Rittenberg: Brian, you're not the first person to bring up the point about Pryor playing wide receiver in the NFL. But Ohio State surely will stick with him at quarterback and try to help him develop as a passer. Keep in mind that he just finished his freshman year and has time to improve his passing. After watching him repeatedly beat Texas defenders to the corner in the Fiesta Bowl, I think Pryor needs to have the ball as much as possible for the Buckeyes. He needs to run the ball as much as Tim Tebow does for Florida. Pryor still can become a top-line pro prospect at quarterback, and my sense is that's where he'll stay throughout his pro career. But Ohio State should use his talents in as many ways as possible.

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

As expected, it didn't take long for Scott Shafer to find a new job after resigning from Michigan last month after one season as defensive coordinator. 

Shafer has officially been named defensive coordinator at Syracuse, joining the staff of new head coach Doug Marrone. Syracuse becomes Shafer's fourth stop in the last three seasons, as he moved from Western Michigan to Stanford to Michigan.

Marrone in a statement called Shafer "a veteran defensive play-caller who has an attacking defensive style."

Despite the very poor results on the field this fall, Shafer remains a pretty good coach, and if he gets the freedom to operate, he should help Syracuse. 

Michigan head coach Rich Rodriguez isn't in a major rush to name Shafer's replacement. If Rodriguez doesn't look in-house and promote linebackers coach Jay Hopson, he'll likely find someone at the American Football Coaches Association convention, held Jan. 11-14 in Nashville. 

Shafer could be headed to Syracuse

December, 23, 2008
12/23/08
10:01
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

When Scott Shafer resigned as Michigan's defensive coordinator last week, he said he had already sent out a few feelers for new jobs. 

Shafer could land on his feet soon after possibly interviewing with new Syracuse head coach Doug Marrone on Monday. Marrone had better be willing to run a base 4-3 defense, which Shafer prefers and what likely led to his departure from Michigan after switching the scheme during this season. 

Despite a disappointing second half of the year in Ann Arbor, Shafer still has the personality and track record to end up as a head coach in the near future. He had been successful at every stop but Michigan and got next to no help from Rodriguez's offense this season.

Though he might need to tone down the self-criticism -- he took "full responsibility for the demise of the Michigan program" -- he should be OK in the long run. Syracuse is starting over as a program after the Greg Robinson mess, and Marrone might give Shafer the freedom he needs. 

As for Michigan, Rodriguez likely will look to linebackers coach Jay Hopson as a potential replacement for Shafer. Hopson served as Southern Miss' defensive coordinator from 2005-07. 

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

Scott Shafer resigned as Michigan's defensive coordinator after only one season on the job.

From the release:

University of Michigan football coach Rich Rodriguez announced today that Scott Shafer resigned his position as defensive coordinator. Shafer spent the 2008 season as the Wolverines' defensive coordinator and also worked with the cornerbacks.

"Scott and I agreed that moving in a different direction was in the best interest of the program," said Rodriguez. "I appreciate Scott's hard work on behalf of Michigan football the past year. He is a good football coach, a good person and a true professional. We wish him well in the future."

Rodriguez will continue to evaluate his staff and review all possibilities before deciding upon a new defensive coordinator.

This isn't a total surprise, as Michigan certainly underachieved on defense this fall, finishing 10th in the Big Ten in scoring (28.9 points per game) and ninth in yards allowed (366.9 yards per game). The unit got next to no help from Rodriguez's offense but should have been better, particularly in the front seven.

Shafer was one of few outsiders Rodriguez brought in for his staff, most of whom joined him in Ann Arbor from West Virginia. The resignation or firing, however you choose to look at it, is certainly a setback for Shafer, a rising star who seemed destined for a head-coaching position in the near future.

No word yet on possible replacements. Michigan's linebackers coach Jay Hopson has defensive coordinator experience at Southern Miss (2005-07), and defensive line coach Bruce Tall served as defensive coordinator at Harvard, Northeastern and Ohio Wesleyan.

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