ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- While a great deal of focus has been placed on the Michigan coaching staff and its transition to Ann Arbor under Jim Harbaugh, not many have thought about the possible change in approach some have made coming from the NFL to college.
For some, like Michigan secondary coach Greg Jackson, the transition from coaching professionals in the NFL to college kids changes just one thing: the amount of time player and coach can be together.
While NCAA rules place a great deal of restriction on the time allotted for coaches to spend with college athletes, Jackson says the players are voluntarily spending extra hours putting in work.
“I think the players are excited and I think they’ve embraced it,” Jackson said. “I think the most important thing is the guys want to win. The players want to win. And that’s the funny thing about it is, when you come in here as new coaches you’re going to have guys go this way and this way; nobody did that.
“Everybody came together, started listening to coaches and started doing everything we asked them to do. That was the biggest thing when we got here, everyone coming in watching tape on their own and trying to learn the defense, which is great.”
Certainly, from a team standpoint, some of the togetherness in the locker room comes from a group eager to prove it’s better than the 5-7 showing in 2014.
Off the field, some reason for the tight knit group, and coaching staff, stems from the preexisting relationships built with former Michigan defensive coordinator turned defensive line coach Greg Mattison.
Although now a position coach, Mattison isn’t shy about voicing his opinion, with some on the staff openly seeking it out if necessary.
“I think he’s been great,” Jackson said. “When we first got here he told us about each and every player, and he was dead on about each and every player.
“And I picked his brain about each and every guy back there and he was dead on about each and every guy. I think he’s been valuable.”
Certainly a demotion from coordinator to position coach, Jackson believes Mattison isn’t looking at his altered role in that manner.
Instead, the coaching staff is using it as an advantage having another bright football mind in the meeting room daily.
“It’s been smooth and I think it’s been great because he’s been in this conference, he’s been in the Big Ten,” Jackson said. “He’s experienced. He’s been coaching forever, so why wouldn’t you embrace Coach Mattison?
“He can tell each and every coach and each and every position coach what’s best. I even listen to him when he talks about the secondary cause he knows so much so I think it’s been great for us.”
Previously coaching in the Big Ten at Wisconsin, Jackson added the decision for him to return to the college game, and the conference in general, was a no brainer.
“We just knew to follow Jim (Harbaugh), we’ll win,” Jackson said. “Cause Jim’s got a great track record and he’s brought some coaches along that the great thing is all the coaches gelled together quickly. It’s been great so far.”