The Wolverine

September 2019

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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74 THE WOLVERINE SEPTEMBER 2019 T here is something about Maryland coaches and Michigan that has seemed to stir the pot in recent years, and it always seems to boil over at Big Ten Media Days. A few years ago in Chicago, then-Terrapins head coach D.J. Durkin couldn't escape Jim Harbaugh's shadow, asked repeatedly about the U-M head coach's influence on him when he assisted him at Stanford and Michigan. This year, Maryland head coach Mike Locksley got ques- tion after question about Josh Gattis, who co-coordinated the offense with him at Alabama and nearly joined him at Mary- land before Harbaugh stole him away at the 11th hour. "Josh who?" Locksley said after the third or fourth time he was asked during a one-hour roundtable session, jokingly asking reporters to clarify. "Josh Gattis? "Ohhh … you mean Josh. Oh, yeah. Yeah." And then it got passive aggressive. "I mean, Josh is a good coach," Locksley said. "He was very helpful as an assistant in our program. He had an opportunity to see me call every play and put together game plans. I hope he does well, except against Maryland. "Good luck to him." He had reason to be disappointed. Gattis is considered one of the top young offensive minds in the game, and Alabama's Nick Saban report- edly gave him an earful when he said he was leaving. Gattis, though, wanted to run the show, having been an integral part of offenses at both Penn State (as wide receivers coach) and with the Crimson Tide. Many casual college football ob- servers, even, knew he was on the rise, and Michigan fans … well, shouldn't get too comfortable with him. He'll be a head coach some- where in a few years. Coaches need confidence and tact, and Gattis showed both when asked to respond to Locksley's "look at me, I called every play" remarks. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mike Locksley. He called every play … there were never any other comments about that," Gattis said. "I'm 100 percent confident [I can do it]. Mike Locksley can say I watched him call every play, but ask him where the game plans usually came from. "So, I'm fine with that. He did call every play, and I've got a notebook upstairs [in Schembechler Hall] with all the game plans written down in them." He called Locksley a mentor, and added former PSU coordinators Joe Moorhead and John Donovan as guys he has also learned from. Be- ing taught by coaches who helped develop ownership and entitled and empowered everyone helped shape him, Gattis said, and he plans to do the same with his staff. He also made it clear he has played a very important role in ev- ery offense he has helped coached. "One of the things that's im- portant when you talk about play calling and games, your call sheet is won Monday through Friday," he said. "What is called Saturday is about putting your kids in posi- tion to be successful. There have been coordinators that have been coordinators for 20 years that aren't successful … it's because they're not putting their kids in position to be successful. "You win the game Monday through Friday. That's some- thing I took a tremendous amount of pride in over the years, making sure I'm a big part of the game plan process at places I've been. Also, just because I haven't called plays before … I've recommended a lot of plays during games." He did call one play, he ad- mitted. "It was a game winner … the last [play] at Iowa when I was at another institution [Penn State]," he said with a grin. Locksley wanted the last word and probably got it, in- sisting there were "suggestions and decisions." "I'm sure that notebook he has up- stairs has a lot of suggestions in them," he said. "Hopefully he'll utilize them in the right way and make good deci- sions like I did for Alabama." It will be the first time Gattis has gotten the chance, and some are wary. "Michigan is not the place to cut your teeth," many have said. But first-year guys have had suc- cess at U-M before. Defensive coor- dinator Jim Herrmann's first U-M unit dominated in 1997 on the way to a national title. Ron English's 2006 group, too, was outstanding for most of the year. Often times it just takes a chance. Gattis has the tools, work ethic and experience to make his pro spread work extremely well in his first sea- son, and by all accounts, the offense was looking good in early fall. It will likely be hitting on all cylinders Nov. 2 when U-M heads to Maryland. Don't be surprised if the Wolver- ines have a little something extra in the tank for the Terrapins that day. ❑ Chris Balas has been with The Wolver- ine since 1997, working part time for five years before joining the staff full time in 2002. Contact him at cbalas@ and follow him on Twitter @Balas_Wolverine. INSIDE MICHIGAN   CHRIS BALAS Josh Gattis Is Ready To Run The Show Gattis has been an integral part of offenses at both Penn State and Alabama, but his first season in Ann Arbor will be his first as a play caller. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN

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