The Wolverine

2021 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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32 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2021 FOOTBALL PREVIEW "I'm going to coach hard. I'm going to yell. But I'm never going to be demeaning." He has several levels from which to teach, he noted. He knows about being a student- athlete at Michigan. He's got a full grasp of what it means to be a highest-level running back for the Wolverines. Hart even enjoyed a short stint in the NFL, before injuries took away that avenue. So he talks to the players in his room "about every- thing," while getting to know them as well as the coaches around him. They aren't all strange faces, by any means. "You come across the guys on the road, in recruiting," Hart said. "It's been great. Coach [Josh] Gattis has been phenomenal. Coach Jay has been phenomenal. It's teach- ing the offense and understanding the of- fense. Coach [Sherrone] Moore has been here, but he switched to O-line. "It's been great. They accepted me with open arms, and we have a good time. We have fun. We enjoy coming to work. That's all you can ask. They're a great group of coaches." They are also working collaboratively to get the most out of Michigan's offense, Hart noted. There's no question, Gattis is running the show. At the same time, he's not some- one to stiff-arm the experience and input of other staff members who might have ideas to bring to the table. "I'm not the only new staff member on offense," Hart pointed out. "We all have our ideas. We talk about how I did it, how they do it, and you come up with the best way. That's the great thing about Coach Gattis. He's not, 'This is my way. This is the only way we're doing it.' "He likes to talk about things, discuss things. At the end of the day, he wants to do what's best for the team. It's great working with guys like that." And the overall boss? It's nothing but blue skies and green pastures with fellow Mich- igan football legend Jim Harbaugh, who brought him back to Ann Arbor. "He's a great guy," Hart said. "He's genu- ine, he cares, he loves this place, just as much as I do. We both have the same goal — that's to win the Big Ten championship. That's the goal all the coaches have. "He cares about people. He cares about these kids. He cares about his coaches, and I truly enjoy coaching with him and for him." Primed For The Rivalries Speaking of green, Haskins indicated Hart has not mentioned the fact that he never lost to Michigan State over the four years of his career. "I will, at some point," Hart admitted. One can imagine the twinkle in his eye when he said it. Hart became the object of Spartan derange- ment when he made some spicy comments after a 28-24 Michigan win in East Lansing. The Wolverines rallied from 10 points down with seven minutes remaining, and nailed down their sixth straight victory over MSU. Afterward, inside Michigan State's cramped little media trailer outside Spartan Stadium, Hart said: "I was just laughing. I thought it was funny. They got excited, it's good. Sometimes you get your little brother excited when you're playing basketball and let him get the lead. Then you just come back and take it back." Hart became public enemy No. 1 for MSU fans thereafter, and he won't back down from the rivalry one bit. Prior to returning to his alma mater, Hart coached at Eastern Michigan (2011-13), Western Michigan (2014-15), Syracuse (2016) and Indiana (2017- 20). He became the assistant head coach for the Hoosier program in 2019. PHOTO BY EJ HOLLAND "It just kind of hit me, like, 'I'm home.' It was just different when I walked my son around that time. I always walked my son around any job I've had. But this was special to me. He's obviously grown up a Michigan fan. He was like, 'Your name's on the wall. That's YOU!' … That's probably when it hit me." HART ON WALKING HIS 10-YEAR-OLD SON AROUND THE U-M FACILITY AFTER TAKING THE JOB

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