When Sam McGuffie committed to Michigan over his hometown Texas A&M Aggies, it shocked many in the Lone Star State. High school football is religion in Texas and many people were upset that perhaps the most talked-about player in the state’s history had spurned his home state for a northern school.
McGuffie had several reasons for coming to Michigan including the chance to replace the departing Mike Hart in 2008, the fact that he had family up in Michigan, and the fact that UM always has a very good offensive line to run behind. But the number one reason in many observers’ eyes was the friendship McGuffie had developed with running backs coach Fred Jackson.
Jackson was also the associate head coach under Lloyd Carr and had been a Michigan Man for sometime as well as one of the program’s best recruiters. But when Carr at the end of the 2007 season, speculation began to surface about whether or not the highly-prized UM recruit McGuffie would still be coming. McGuffie, who has become a youtube.com legend with his highlight videos featuring him hurdling people (as well as a truck), was rumored to be looking elsewhere because he was worried Jackson might not come back.
When Rich Rodriguez was hired from West Virginia to be Michigan’s new head man, many fans thought it was a good sign that McGuffie would be staying and breathed a sigh of relief. But on December 20th, 2007, Rodriguez called each Michigan assistant into his office one-by-one and gave each of them their pink slip. It looked as if he wanted to bring in his own coaches to start his own legacy at Michigan.
Meanwhile, the Wolverine Nation began to panic. It was pandemonium on the forums and message boards across the Internet and McGuffie was rumored to have one foot out the door already.
But the following day, on December 21st, Jackson was re-hired as Michigan running backs coach and likely will be given a long-term contract. Fears were calmed and everything was back to normal again. As it stands right now in this long-running McGuffie soap opera, the star running back is very likely to honor his commitment to the Wolverines.
But this whole episode also raises a question: is it worth it to hire one coach just to get a single recruit to come to your school? Obviously it depends on how good the coach is, and Jackson is pretty well-respected. The player on the other hand has to be a can’t-miss prospect since many top prospects don’t pan out or do as well as people expect. It blew up in Arkansas’ face last year when they hired the high school coach of phenom QB Mitch Mustain only to see him transfer to USC after the season.
At any rate, it appears the Wolverines did the right thing to land McGuffie, if only because it would be devastating to the legions of fans who’ve followed his high school career if he decided not to go to Michigan.