Thursday, September 20, 2018
  • USF Sports Bulletin
  • Joey Knight

Jim McElwain officially joins Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan staff

Former Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain has officially joined Jim Harbaugh's staff at Michigan as receivers coach.

ESPN broke the story last week, and the Wolverines announced it Tuesday afternoon.

"I am excited to work with this offensive staff and Coach Harbaugh," McElwain said in the Wolverines' announcement. "There are a lot of great offensive minds in that coaching room and I look forward to learning from them."

It's the first job for McElwain since he and the Gators parted ways midway through last season, after a bizarre sequence in which he said members of his program received death threats but wouldn't give any details to administrators. He received a $7.5 million buyout.

McElwain was 22-12 at UF. Two of those losses were to Harbaugh's Wolverines – a 41-7 embarrassment in the Citrus Bowl after the 2015 season and a 33-17 defeat in the 2017 season opener.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right?

The move is interesting for a few reasons. McElwain has been known as a quarterbacks guru – his struggles at UF notwithstanding – but will be coaching receivers. He filled that role in previous stops, including Eastern Washington, Louisville and Wolverines rival Michigan State.

McElwain has been friends with Michigan offensive coordinator Tim Drevno for years; they were on staff together at Montana State two decades ago.

RELATED: Jim McElwain: Big Sky to the Big Time

McElwain hasn't exactly been dismissive of Harbaugh in the past, but his praise wasn't effusive, either.

"Each guy is his own," McElwain said in August when asked about some of Harbaugh's high-profile antics. "He obviously felt that they needed to do some things to become relevant. That was his choice in doing it. It's probably not something I'd do. That's all right."

From Michigan's perspective, it looks like an all-in move. For all of the Harbaugh hype (like his spring break trip to IMG Academy), he's only 28-11 at Michigan with no finish higher than 10th in the final AP poll. His Wolverines finished fourth in their division last season, but that was somewhat expected given the enormous talent exodus from the previous year.

This year isn't necessarily a make-or-break year. More like put-up-or-shut-up. Adding a former SEC head coach who left his last job on bad terms seems like a way to try to maximize a talented team in a loaded division during this pivotal season.

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