Pep Hamilton, Wolverine

Pep Hamilton, Wolverine


January 10, 2017

Pep Hamilton (right) with Andrew Luck (image via Zimbio)

Pep Hamilton has reportedly been hired as Michigan’s passing game coordinator and assistant head coach. He will be working with the quarterbacks (along with Jim Harbaugh) and the wide receivers. Hamilton replaces Jedd Fisch, who went to UCLA as the Bruins’ offensive coordinator. The assistant head coach title is likely a little extra benefit thrown in there to help convince him to leave the NFL.

Hamilton went to high school in Charlotte, NC, and then played quarterback at Howard. After he graduated he became the quarterbacks coach and then offensive coordinator at Howard. Since then he has spent time with the New York Jets (QB/WR), San Francisco 49ers (QB), Chicago Bears (QB), Stanford Cardinal (QB/WR/OC), Indianapolis Colts (OC), and Cleveland Browns (QB/AHC). He was Jim Harbaugh’s wide receivers coach at Stanford in 2010, and then he became David Shaw’s offensive coordinator after Harbaugh and Greg Roman went to the NFL.

STANFORD

  • 2011: #6 OFEI
  • 2012: #54 OFEI

INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

  • 2013: #20 Weighted Offense
  • 2014: #22 Weighted Offense
  • 2015: #32 Weighted Offense

His 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2015 seasons were all with Andrew Luck at quarterback. His 2012 year was with Josh Nunes and Kevin Hogan at QB, when Hogan seriously outplayed a limited Nunes. In his one year as wide receivers coach at Stanford, Doug Baldwin caught 58 passes for 857 yards (14.8 yards/catch) and 9 touchdowns.

I like this hire. Hamilton has NFL experience, and he’s been around Harbaugh in the past. He knows what to expect from the aspect of competition and energy. We also know that Harbaugh isn’t afraid to step outside of his coaching tree (Don Brown, Jedd Fisch, etc.) to make hires, so if Hamilton couldn’t hack it, Harbaugh wouldn’t have targeted him.

I know some people aren’t thrilled with Hamilton because he coached for the Browns and his success was mediocre at times, but highly successful college and NFL coaches aren’t looking for co-coordinator jobs. Jedd Fisch got fired from the Jacksonville Jaguars before he got hired and did some good things at Michigan. If you’re at a spot like Michigan, you’re looking for a pro-style up-and-comer from the lower ranks of football, or you’re looking for an FBS/NFL retread who has fallen on slightly harder times. Since that first category doesn’t really exist right now (everyone’s running a spread offense), Michigan was bound to get someone like Hamilton all along. I went through some options last week (Erik Campbell, T.J. Weist, etc.), and they all fall in that category or they’re graduate assistant types looking to move up in the world.





26 comments

  1. DonAZ
    Comments: 338
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    DonAZ
    Jan 10, 2017 at 9:06 AM

    The other day I was thinking that the longer Harbaugh remains as UM head coach — may it be a long time! — the more his “NFL bona fides” diminish. It’s just a fact: 10 years from now the fact Harbaugh once coached in the NFL will not be relevant to any recruit.

    For now, Harbaugh has his brother John, head coach of the Ravens, to provide a connection back to the NFL. John Harbaugh’s presence at last year’s “Signing of the Stars” was no doubt part of a “let’s maintain the perception of Michigan as viable stepping stone to the NFL.” Hamilton’s hire is another.

    I think it’s a good thing, particularly if we don’t see Michigan playing too many Monday night games in mid-January.

    Not sure I have any opinion pro or con on Hamilton himself, but I like the general strategy and way it keeps current the NFL-ties of head coach Harbaugh.

    • Comments: 14
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      canzior
      Jan 10, 2017 at 10:30 AM

      I don’t know. I think having played and been successful, he can always show that he can do it. Having the experience too is invaluable, especially as the program cycles through coaches with NFL experience on their resume. And in a couple years, if he’s putting 8-10 players per year in the NFL and possibly winning a title, no one will care. No one faults Saban or Meyer for their lack of NFL experience.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Jan 10, 2017 at 2:09 PM

      That may happen one day but people are still aware of Harbaugh’s NFL chops and like the other comment said he will also always have his own NFL career to point to.

      The most effective thing there is to keep producing NFL players out of the program. If you do that it hardly matters that you’ve actually coached there or not. See: Urban Meyer.

      • DonAZ
        Comments: 338
        Joined: 8/12/2015
        DonAZ
        Jan 10, 2017 at 3:18 PM

        I guess what I was thinking as this: right now, Harbaugh’s able to get the attention of top recruits because he coached the SF 49ers. I think most recruits nowadays would have only a vague awareness of Harbaugh’s actual playing days as those were back before they were born; that is, ancient history.

        Harbaugh’s SF 49er stint is starting to fade into the rear-view mirror. Again, for recruits of 17 and 18 years old, two or three years is ancient history. So for this year and the next few, bolstering the image of Michigan as having a strong NFL connection is important. Pep Hamilton helps with that.

        Yes, becoming an NFL factory like Alabama and Ohio State is *ultimately* the key to this. Michigan is on its way to becoming an NFL factory, but there’s still some work to do. So, again, the Pep Hamilton hire helps maintain the NFL pedigree.

        • Comments: 2231
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Jan 10, 2017 at 3:39 PM

          I agree with what you’re saying. Kids were in awe of Harbaugh when he was just a year or two removed from getting his team to the Super Bowl. As the Broncos, Cowboys, whoever start to make noise in the Super Bowl, that 49ers stuff starts to fade away. In the not-too-distant future, Jim Harbaugh is “Michigan’s coach” instead of “the guy who took the 49ers to the Super Bowl.” If Michigan has sustained success, maybe that’s enough. But until/unless he gets Michigan to the Ohio State/Alabama level, he’s not going to engender that kind of awe.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 3600
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Jan 10, 2017 at 4:00 PM

            While I agree with this in regard to Harbaugh’s prestige, I don’t think it means we should necessarily be hiring guys with NFL experience to make up for Harbaugh’s (POTENTIAL) prestige declining.

            • Comments: 2231
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Jan 10, 2017 at 7:41 PM

              I don’t think that’s the ONLY reason. He hired Brown, who’s a career college coach. And he hired Hamilton, who has split his time between college and the NFL – including a history with Harbaugh and David Shaw. I don’t see any evidence here that his NFL pedigree is what got him the job.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 3600
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Jan 10, 2017 at 9:21 PM

                Nor do I. I’m saying what Don brought up as a concern (lack of recent NFL connections for Harbaugh) shouldn’t be a significant concern. Michigan has more than enough NFL connections at the moment, though that could change over time and Don’s point about it fading as the years pass is well taken.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3600
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Jan 10, 2017 at 3:58 PM

          While I take your point about the limitations of historical knowledge in young people, I kind of doubt that the recency of Pep Hamilton’s NFL experience is more important than the profile of Harbaugh’s. And – to take your point one step further – you are implying that Hamilton’s experience will be irrelevant in a year or two when recruits forget about it. More likely – they no knowledge of who Pep Hamilton is even now. It’s the recruiter’s job to sell themselves to the recruit, not for the recruit to know that before talking to them (though obviously it helps).

          There are a lot of different ways to ‘sell’ a recruit. The NFL stuff is one important. Different ways to get at that tho: I produce NFL players. I was one so I know what it takes. I coached them in the NFL. etc.

          To me the difference between “I coached them last year” vs “I coached them 2 years ago” is minimal. I think the bigger concern is that Hamilton is going to sell Andrew Luck which Harbaugh was already doing. I think if I’m a recruit I want a longer list. Harbaugh has that – does Hamilton add anything?

  2. Comments: 156
    Joined: 12/24/2016
    INTJohn
    Jan 10, 2017 at 11:02 AM

    This is as great a hire that Jimmy could’ve made. I’m curious as to the contract length?

    When ever someone points out that someones previous stint has an appearance of ‘lacking in success’; I usually counter with Belichick as coach and Johnny Unitas as player. (Few people are aware that Unitas was originally cut by the team who drafted him – the Steelers. These were not your 70’s to this day Steelers. The 50’s Steelers were the equivalent of todays Lions & Browns and they CUT arguably the greatest QB ever!)

    An interesting side note I’ll throw out as well: Unitas was deemed to skinny. He wanted to play at Notre Dame who essentially laughed at Him cause he was deemed too skinny so he ended up at Louisville. I’ve read these same types of things regarding McCaffrey – the next Johnny U? fun to speculate.

    IMHO………….INTJohn

    • Comments: 2231
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jan 10, 2017 at 11:59 AM

      I don’t know what the length of the contract is. I would guess 2 years, but that’s a complete guess.

      • Comments: 156
        Joined: 12/24/2016
        INTJohn
        Jan 10, 2017 at 12:45 PM

        Yeah; I’m sure it would be at least 2 years but curious if it might be more. It’ll probably come out in the next day or 2 – might be out now and I’m just to lazy to look for it.

        Thanx…………INTJohn

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 3600
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jan 10, 2017 at 2:06 PM

    What is the case for Hamilton without Andrew Luck?

    In the NFL you often see anybody associated with an elite QB (e.g., Brady, Manning, Brees) gets promoted. Typically they go somewhere else and the success does not follow.

    Obviously, you can’t credit one coach with QB talent and his production. Luck was coached by Harbaugh, Shaw, and Roman too. Luck himself gets most of the credit and then distributing the rest to the coaches is anyones guess. The bottom line is that most coaches who worked with great QBs get way too much credit.*

    I’m not saying Hamilton is going to fail here, but I think his job titles exceed the impressiveness of his accomplishments.

    *There are exceptions for a guy like Bill Walsh and I would say Harbaugh is another. If you are making QB after QB much better, then you deserve credit. If the QB performance suffers again and again after you leave, then you deserve credit. I don’t have any evidence Hamilton is in this category.

    ==========================

    Honestly I’d rather find somebody like Tom Herman who is rising through the ranks than go the NFL retread route. It doesn’t have to be 90s-pro-style offense to succeed as a passing game coordinator. We could take passing concepts from other offenses (e.g., air-raid) and incorporate them into the Harbaugh/Stanford/Drevno core. New ideas are good and I don’t know that Pep Hamilton is going to offer them.

    If Michigan’s offense isn’t humming along at a top 20 level within the next couple years I will argue that it’s time for fresh ideas. By then it may be time to move beyond the Stanford paradigm. Willie Taggert going from Stanford to Oregon (physically and philosophically) should be a model that Michigan looks at closely.

    ============

    That all said, I think it’s a fine hire. Having another WR/QB/Passing OC coming directly from being an NFL OC (failed because obviously) is impressive. Like Fisch, the titles on his resume are impressive, especially so for his age. That means he’s doing something right even if the results haven’t always been exceptional. Hiring overqualified people is good.

    It’s also an exceedingly safe hire. Pep’s also reported to be an A+ character guy, has college and pro experience to his name, and should be an asset for recruiting. He’s going to fit into the Stanfordization process very easily and into the NFL-level preparedness culture as well. Good or bad, he fits.

    I believe he’ll be a valuable addition to the program. I believe he’ll have success. Speight and our other QBs should be very happy. I don’t think he’ll last more than a year or two in AA before getting promoted somewhere else.

    I expect him to have a very positive influence on Speight and Peters. Speight made amazing progress this year but he probably learned much of what he had learned from Fisch already, so a new voice will be good. Harbaugh is probably the bigger factor here, but it’s a team effort.

    • Comments: 2231
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jan 10, 2017 at 3:50 PM

      Without Andrew Luck, Hamilton still coached with the Jets and Bears. He coached Laveranues Coles back in the day with the Jets. Obviously, it’s a weaker resume, but anybody’s resume is weaker if you take away the best thing on it.

      The reason I don’t like hiring someone like Tom Herman is that he’s a spread guy. That creates tension in meeting rooms, on the sidelines, etc. If things aren’t going well, he’s upset because “Why aren’t we spreading them out and throwing the ball more?” If you have a spread guy with a pro-style guy involved, now he’s wondering why you’re not using fullbacks, tight ends, the QB under center, etc. I’ve been there on high school staffs. I’ve seen people quit over that stuff. I’ve seen coaches almost come to blows because of differing philosophies. You want guys who have similar ideas. They don’t have to agree 100%, but I think they should have similar general philosophies.

      (In high school you don’t have much of a choice based on philosophy. Sometimes you take what you can get, and you adjust your coaching appropriately. But in college and the NFL, you have a wider array of potential employees.)

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3600
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jan 10, 2017 at 4:04 PM

        Weaker yes. The question is if there is anything of substance beyond that one thing. You can take Stanford away from Harbaugh and he still has the 49ers, super bowl, the meteoric rise at San Diego, and his NFL career. Because Hamilton is so linked to Luck his resume is thin.

        I think that you are mentioning Laverneus Coles (whose name I vaguely recalled but had to google) about answers my question, unfortunately.

        • Comments: 156
          Joined: 12/24/2016
          INTJohn
          Jan 10, 2017 at 6:32 PM

          You’ve failed to mention Jimmy’s stint as Al Davis’s QB coach and what he did with Rich Gannon – kinda where ‘it all began’………
          and both Al & Lou Holtz were instrumental in Jimmy getting his first gig at USD
          An Addendum…………INTJohn

        • Comments: 2231
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Jan 10, 2017 at 7:42 PM

          I’m talking about Laveranues Coles, the Florida State star who became a Pro Bowl receiver in the NFL. He wasn’t a Pro Bowler under Hamilton, but that’s something.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3600
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jan 10, 2017 at 4:13 PM

        Take your point about different philosophies but I don’t think the pro-style/spread dichotomy is meaningful anymore. Everybody, including Michigan, is running zone read stuff. Everybody has some version of 4 verts. Jalen Hurts is Alabama’s QB.

        Obviously Michigan can’t hire somebody who things TEs are stupid, but they can bring somebody into the strong core they have for fresh ideas. Drevno and Harbaugh and Wheatley are still going to be there. They don’t need a 4th person saying the exact same thing. A little friction can make everybody better.

        I don’t think Michigan should necessarily hire say Kevin Wilson because there are a host of philosophical differences there. There has to be some common ground of course. But I do think they could hire Tom Herman if he gets canned from Texas in 2 or 3 years to bring new ideas into the offense. Michigan can’t just try to recreate 2010 Stanford anymore than Rich Rodriguez can try to recreate 2005 West Virginia.

        • Comments: 2231
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Jan 10, 2017 at 7:48 PM

          Jalen Hurts is Alabama’s QB because they’ve chosen to incorporate some of his running into their play calling (see: his long TD run in the NC game). They have also recruited other dual-threat guys in recent years, including Blake Sims, Blake Barnett, Tua Tagovailoa, etc. That’s the direction they have chosen to go.

          Michigan has not chosen to go in that direction. Yes, they have run about 5 zone read plays in the last two years. That doesn’t mean they’re adopting the spread. It means they’re putting in wrinkles. You don’t need to hire Tom Herman (or someone like him), a spread guru, in order to implement a couple plays. Any FBS- or NFL-level coach worth his salt can learn a handful of spread plays for certain situations. I bet Paul Johnson at Georgia Tech knows a hell of a lot more about a spread offense than any of us do, and he’s been coaching the triple option his whole career.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 3600
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Jan 10, 2017 at 9:30 PM

            It certainly more than 5 and you can bet that with a better runner than Speight/Rudock it would be even more. They have recruited better athletes under Harbaugh and have sought out some dual threat QBs too.

            Again, I would argue that “adopting the spread” is not really a thing anymore. “Spread” is bordering being as meaningless as “pro style” since almost every NFL team runs what we’d have called a passing spread offense a decade ago. Oregon is going to “run the spread” with a Harbaugh protege. Harbaugh drafted Kaepernick in the NFL. etc. These big clear lines don’t exist anymore.

            You can run these “wrinkles” into your offense more or less just like the WR jet reverses, FB traps, and TE screens we’ve seen at times. All part of the offense, depending on your personnel you use them more or less.

            I’m not saying Harbaugh, Kelly, Holgersen and Meyer are all running the same offense but there’s less differentiation than there used to be.

  4. Comments: 14
    Joined: 12/21/2016
    Fab5ive21
    Jan 10, 2017 at 3:43 PM

    Does anyone know much about how Pep is as a recruiter? I have heard he is a good one but I haven’t seen much about it. I assume he would have connections all over from his experience (DC / Maryland from his Howard days, he is from the South originally, West Coast ties from Stanford, Midwest from Colts and Browns). I realize you don’t just gain recruiting ties simply from working in an area but it also can’t hurt. I’m curious if anyone knows more about his strengths in recruiting.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Jan 10, 2017 at 4:20 PM

      I would say it can hurt, because it’s hard to establish real ties when you are moving jobs all over the country every year or two.

      But it doesn’t preclude him from being a recruiter. Geography is very overrated. Harbaugh has tons of CA connections but it has helped only with a small handful of recruits. 3 CA recruits across 3 classes.

      • Comments: 14
        Joined: 12/21/2016
        Fab5ive21
        Jan 10, 2017 at 4:36 PM

        Sure, but I would bet Pep still has a couple areas around the country where his recruiting prowess is better. My totally uninformed guess would be the DMV area from his Howard days and possibly the South since he grew up in North Carolina.

        Just curious if anyone knows anything more about his reputation as a recruiter.

      • Comments: 156
        Joined: 12/24/2016
        INTJohn
        Jan 10, 2017 at 6:44 PM

        Really? You really think geography is overrated? This is another one of the numerous off season (May thru July) topics I’ve put on my list to slap on this forum for discussion when we need our football fix cause there’s no football……

        I think geography IS very relevant but from the other side of your point. Itsa big deal to many to stay somewhere somewhat near where you’re familiar – geographically speaking – thus it is important and relevant. Another good topic for off season discussion.

        IMHO……………INTJohn

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3600
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Jan 11, 2017 at 2:41 PM

          I think there need to be some people on staff with local ties to recruit Michigan and Ohio. Beyond that – who cares.

          Partridge helped land some recruits he had direct ties to. Is he going to help land NJ/NY kids going forward? Maybe he is the difference on a key kid or two over the next few years but it probably matters just as much that there are kids on the team from the area. And remember that Michigan got Peppers without him.

  5. Comments: 156
    Joined: 12/24/2016
    INTJohn
    Jan 10, 2017 at 6:05 PM

    Harbaugh just flipped the guy from the NFL – shouldn’t that count for something? Obviously Harbaugh thinks the highest of him, blah blah blah – good enuff for me. I’m enjoying a gin & tonic at The Cliffs knowing the football portfolio is in good hands awaiting for the investments inevitable future return.

    ………and I’m ready for all this star, ranking, recruit, commit, coaching staff, roster, whos in, whos out, position drama to meld itself into a Spring Ball event. 2 more months. I’ll try to hang on.
    IMHO………..INTJohn

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