Michigan football: Matt Weiss would be great replacement for Josh Gattis, but UM still can't keep it together
At first, Josh Gattis was criticized for his “Speed in Space” methodology. Yeah, it sounded good — and it worked at Penn State and Alabama — but it never seemed to catch fire at Michigan … that is, until this past season, when the Wolverines’ offense looked as good as it ever has under coach Jim Harbaugh.
But, as luck would have it, Gattis was offered the offensive coordinator gig at Miami, a job he accepted just days after Harbaugh announced his return to Ann Arbor (NFL talks are finished, he said). And this comes about a week after Mike Macdonald rejoined the Baltimore Ravens, assuming defensive coordinator roles after serving as the linebackers coach in 2020.
He essentially was a 1-year rental.
Michigan’s Dynamic Duo of assistants has vanished into the wind. Every time Harbaugh has what appears to be the ideal medley, things get switched up and a new face enters the building. Yeah, the business of college football often incites rapid changes for a lot of programs, but the 7-year carousel at Michigan must stop if the Wolverines truly want to be consistent contenders.
UM can’t afford to wait around to catch lightning in a bottle every few years, as was done this past season with Gattis and Macdonald.
This past season, Gattis became Michigan’s first Broyles Award winner — recognized as the nation’s top assistant — and the third assistant from the Big Ten to claim that honor within the past decade. Macdonald had Michigan’s defense clicking, despite not landing in the top 10 of total defense statistics (per the previous usual, at least under Don Brown).
They were a great pair.
Now, the Wolverines — who looked to finally be awake, diverse and dangerous on offense — have to look for another offensive coordinator. This search will likely start within Schembechler Hall, as the Wolverines have a few capable existing assistants who could take over the duties in the absence of Gattis.
The popular thought is that Matt Weiss could immediately step in and assume control. At age 38, Weiss has quite the resume, having spent more than a decade with the Baltimore Ravens — a breeding source for UM, it seems — prior to accepting the QB coach job at Michigan. He’s fully aware of the talent the Wolverines have at quarterback and would be a logical successor to Gattis.
Though he’s only spent 1 season in Ann Arbor, Weiss’ impact on UM QBs is undeniable. This past fall, Cade McNamara was one of the steadiest QBs in all of college football. JJ McCarthy, Michigan’s hot-shot frosh, also gained valuable experience.
Back in early fall, Weiss raved about Michigan’s QB duo. After heavily praising McNamara, Weiss mentioned the potential of McCarthy.
“Like any player, the younger they are the faster they’ll grow because there are diminishing returns, obviously,” Weiss said, per MaizeNBrew.com. “He’s come in, he’s 18 years old. Hasn’t played college football. He’s made huge strides. Every day he gets better. It’s a guy with a ton of talent and certainly a guy we’re looking to develop and we’re really excited about. He’s done a great job. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. And more. We’re excited about JJ, too.”
The future of Michigan football, McCarthy would greatly benefit from having Weiss as an offensive coordinator — not just a position coach. It’s clear that the development of the Wolverines’ QBs has been set on the fast track by Weiss, who was the Ravens’ assistant QB coach from 2016-17. They’ve formed a tight bond and work well together — so it’s not broken, there’s no need to fix it, right?
There have been whispers about possibly filling the vacant role with Mike Hart, the running backs coach. But that’s mostly fan chatter. Although not totally out of question, throwing Hart in as the OC doesn’t make as much as sense as moving Weiss to that role. However, Hart does have adequate experience and knowledge — he’s been far more than a position coach during his career; he was once the assistant head coach at Indiana, under Tom Allen.
He’ll probably get another chance at something bigger, and soon based on recent swaps, at Michigan. Maybe just not this year.
In this case, making an internal hire would be a step in the right direction for the Wolverines; it’s not always the best solution, but it works well for this scenario. Weiss already has familiarity with the players and recruits, which will probably make a potential job swap a little easier for everyone involved. He’s already in with McCarthy, which can’t be overlooked — having an OC who is tight with the QB could make all the difference when it comes to development and overall chemistry.
Gattis has left for the ‘Canes, but Michigan’s offense could still stand tall — and avoid any wobbles — with Weiss calling the shots on offense.