When reports surfaced that Michigan was targeting Alabama co-offensive coordinator Josh Gattis as its offensive coordinator, it caught many by surprise. That included Gattis, who had been rumored to be leaving the Crimson Tide to join Maryland’s staff with new coach Mike Locksley.
“When Coach (Jim) Harbaugh called, it kind of caught me off guard because I was literally, the funny thing about it, I had just left a meeting with Nick Saban, getting my butt chewed out for 20 minutes, telling him that I was leaving, and he was trying to keep me to stay,” Gattis said on Harbaugh’s podcast, Attack Each Day. “It did not go over well, so if there was any band-aid to the bruise, or what he left on me, it was the phone call, and it was exciting to hear his voice and to get to talk to him personally.”
Reports that Gattis was set to join Mike Locksley, who had just been hired at Maryland, as his offensive coordinator are mainly why it was a surprise to even Gattis. Michigan also hadn’t publicly announced it was looking for a new offensive coordinator, but Harbaugh had learned enough about Gattis that he knew he needed to take a shot at landing the 34-year-old coach who has made stops at Vanderbilt, Western Michigan, Penn State and Alabama.
“Found out through the grapevine that Josh was considering leaving Alabama to go to Maryland, so we reached out and asked if he’d have any interest in Michigan,” Harbaugh said. “So, I called him at 10 o’clock in the morning and by 3:30, he was coming to Michigan with a signed memorandum of understanding.”
The Wolverines’ offense ranked 49th in total yards per game, 30th in rush yards per game and 79th in pass yards per game for the 2018 season. The offense had taken much criticism for being behind in the times, running a power offense while not spreading teams out when it had the chance.
Harbaugh had a big hand in the offense and playcalling in the past, but now with Gattis on board, Harbaugh says it’s his offense to run. Gattis will call plays and tweak the Michigan offense to emphasize its strengths and its personnel in the future under its new offensive coordinator.
“When you look at it from an offensive standpoint, we want to be an explosive offense,” Gattis said. “Obviously we’re not going to get away from some of the base foundation that we truly believe in, starting with the run game and being able to impose a physical presence, and that’s where it’s going to start for us. But it’s also about getting our skill players involved and having answers for what teams want to be able to do defensively.
“We want to be able to dictate the game, not only from a tempo or style of play standpoint, but dictate how teams view us and what we can attack them with.”