Maurice Linguist, the defensive backs coach at Michigan for about four months, has been hired away by the University of Buffalo to be their head coach. A head coaching job is a head coaching job, and Buffalo isn’t a bad one at all, but Linguist’s departure also counts in the rising tally of bad vibes haunting Jim Harbaugh and his staff of late. (Let’s quickly remember last year’s safeties coach, a man named “Bob Shoop.” A cursory research suggests that “Shoop” is a real man, but he never actually coached in-person all year for reasons undisclosed “due to reasons of confidentiality” before he left and took a job at Miami.) Still, Linguist’s brief and effectively negligible tenure at Michigan didn’t prevent him from being included in this collage of “former Harbaugh assistants who became head coaches,” which accompanied Harbaugh’s farewell message.
And what company! Allow your eyes some time to wander and take in the faces here. Feel them squint in puzzlement or widen with concern as appropriate. Are we, perhaps, being a little generous in the inclusion of Pep Hamilton, whose head coaching career was five games with the XFL’s DC Defenders? Are we, perhaps, also being a little generous in the inclusion of Jim McElwain, whose two head coaching jobs before spending one year at Michigan make less a product of Harbaugh’s coaching tree than a moderately grizzled squirrel who happened to run up it briefly? It’s an uninspiring group at first glance.
Look closer. Look at row four. Chuckle, if you’d like, at this reminder of Jim Tomsula and his much-ridiculed season coaching the Niners. But you’ll begin to hold Tomsula in higher esteem as your eyes scan rightward. There’s Ron Prince, recently out at Howard after a parent described him as “threatening, hostile, abusive and disrespectful of the young men and coaching staff at Howard University” in a letter to the university president and athletic director. And there’s D.J. Durkin, known for his leadership of a Maryland program so toxic it led to the death of a player! Neither man need be claimed. Having worked with them at all is best kept a dark and forbidden secret. I am declaring this graphic not suitable for public distribution.