The Wolverine

March 2024

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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82 THE WOLVERINE ❱ MARCH 2024 N ice guys finish last." That's how the saying goes anyway. If that's the case — and no, we don't believe it is — new Michigan head coach Sherrone Moore could be in trouble. In his six years at Michigan, we've never heard anyone say anything nega- tive about the family man who seems to pour his heart and soul into everything that matters to him. His work ethic, his coaching style, his demeanor — "Coach them hard, love them harder" — has made him a favorite among players, their parents, fellow coaches and even the media. The new Michigan head coach wears his heart on his sleeve, as evidenced by his reaction after the Wolverines won at Penn State back on Nov. 11. It was a game in which he replaced head coach Jim Harbaugh with less than 24 hours' notice during the latter's Big Ten-man- dated three-game suspension, and the tears flowed freely after the 24-15 win. More than anything, it came across as real, and his players knew it. When Har- baugh left for the Los Angeles Chargers, many of them immediately advocated for Moore's promotion on social media. Some in the national media questioned it given his lack of experience, but the vast majority of local and national pun- dits felt it made perfect sense — and this is a guy who has been a full-time coordi- nator for one season and a fill-in interim head coach for four games. And yet it's not really his coaching ability that's going to make or break his squad, most likely. It's going to be talent acquisition, portal management — and yes, NIL success — that determines whether he succeeds at Michigan. Given his history, there's reason to feel good about part of this. Really good. As recruiters go, there are few better in the Big Ten, many would say. And the fact that he understands the importance of a head coach's involvement in landing kids is a great sign. "It's huge," Moore said of recruiting. "You can watch the programs around the country that have sustainability and continued success — their head coaches are attacking and recruiting at a high level. Coach Harbaugh did that, but I want to take it to another level. I want to attack it every single day, be recruit- ing, talking to kids, making sure that we have the resources that we need here on campus from an NIL standpoint, from a football standpoint. "The players have got to be a great fit, and we're going to attack that relent- lessly." He also understands there could be cir- cumstances beyond his control. Boosters at Ohio State, for example, flooded the athletics department with donations fol- lowing the Wolverines' national cham- pionship after a third straight win over their beloved Buckeyes. That allowed them to "buy" (some would say) critical pieces to fill gaps on the roster, including Alabama frosh All-America safety Caleb Downs, Kansas State quarterback Will Howard and others. The pressure is on Michigan, now, not to necessarily follow suit — acquiring talent this way can be hit or miss, as evi- denced by Texas A&M's recent implo- sion — but to make sure its NIL funding is where it needs to be to keep players on the roster and be competitive in the portal. "It's changed tremendously, but we're going to be extremely aggressive with it," Moore said of the recruiting landscape. "We're going to attack it just like we're attacking scheme. We're go- ing to do it the same way, with the same attitude … relentlessly, so we make sure that we keep our great players here and we bring in great players to the pro- gram." If you hadn't noticed, underneath that nice guy exterior is a fierce and intense competitor. Former Michigan coach John Beilein comes to mind; ex- tremely ethical, great family guy but with a competitive fire burning inside few could match. No, we're not saying Moore will have that kind of success, and it's far too early to make predictions on how his era will go. Some would say the deck is stacked against him with the school's unwillingness to wander into gray areas in pay for play, and its slow response to that with its NIL policy. As the Champions Circle NIL collec- tive's Jared Wangler told us recently, "We're never patting ourselves on the back thinking we're this elite collective. We're well aware we're behind and that there's significant room for improve- ment." But Moore is about results, not ex- cuses. If anything, that should only make him work harder. When Fox announcer Gus Johnson asked him specifically about Ohio State's offseason recruiting success, for example, he didn't shy away. "We'll settle that in November," Moore said. Win or lose, we'd bet heavily on Mich- igan bringing its best game to Columbus under its new coach … and in every other contest before it. ❏ INSIDE MICHIGAN ❱ CHRIS BALAS All The Right Moves Moore's approach as an assistant coach — "Coach them hard, love them harder" — won him the support of Michigan's players. PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHY " Chris Balas has been with The Wolverine since 1997. Contact him at cbalas and follow him on X (Twitter) @Balas _ Wolverine.

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