University of Michigan football has been blurring the lines of playing the process for all its worth since Coach Jim Harbaugh took over two years ago. The Wolverines’ latest move, hiring former Minnesota Vikings quarterbacks coach Scott Turner, is being viewed with a somewhat critical eye by even Michigan loyalists.
Turner has been hired as an offensive analyst on Harbaugh’s staff, as fiirst reported by Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback website.
Turner, who came along with his father Norv Turner when Mike Zimmer was hired as the new head coach of the Vikings in 2014, was viewed as instrumental in the development of Teddy Bridgewater. But, when Bridgewater was injured less than two weeks from the start of the regular season, an internal shift took over the offense when the Vikings traded for Sam Bradford. From that point on, the views of then-tight ends coach Pat Shurmur had more of an impact on the Vikings offense.
The results were obvious. Norv Turner left seven games into the 2016 season and Scott Turner left at the end of the season.
Turner, 34, has had most of his experience at the pro level, but worked at the University of Pittsburgh under Dave Wannstedt from 2008-10.
The hiring of a coach with Turner’s NFL pedigree is being viewed as yet another ploy by Harbaugh to take advantage of rules that aren’t technically in place yet. The NCAA is currently considering a rules change that would allow the hiring of 10th assistant coach to staffs, effectively allowing all major colleges to add another coaching assistant to their staffs.
The question is when the change, if it is approved, will be implemented? Not all schools have the blank checkbook that Michigan appears to have and, while the plan was initially expected to be implemented in April, it may be delayed until January because not all programs have the funds available to add on another coach in the middle of a budget year.
If and when the new position is approved, Harbaugh would already have a former NFL coach in the building and could move into the new position while already a member of the staff. Analyst positions don’t include coaching players and recruiting players – jobs that typically don’t go to coaches with Turner’s qualifications and coaching history.
Harbaugh has come under fire from several sources over the last couple of years for making moves that, while bold, have other programs crying foul. Among them have been hiring the parents of prized recruits, going into the backyard of SEC schools to conduct satellite camps in the southern U.S. and announcing that his Wolverines will conduct some of their spring practices in Rome. The announcement came just days after the NCAA voted to ban spring practice trips similar to the one Harbaugh conducted in Bradenton, Fla. last spring – a city known nationwide for producing numerous blue-chip football players.
For Turner, the Michigan hiring is an opportunity to stay in the business he loves, despite seemingly being overqualified for the position he accepted. However, given the competitive advantages Harbaugh has been able to find in the college football system, it may not be long before Turner is on the Michigan practice field teaching young players offensive techniques.