Indiana RB coach Mike Hart heading to Michigan

Running backs coach Mike Hart will be leaving Indiana’s staff for the same position at Michigan.

Hart, who was also promoted to associate head coach in 2020, spent four seasons at IU as running backs coach, replacing Deland McCullough, who matriculated from USC to the Kansas City Chief.

This is a return to Hart’s alma mater. He was a two-time Doak Walker Award finalist and finished fifth in the 2006 Heisman Trophy voting for Michigan. Hart set the Wolverines’ freshman rushing record with 1,455 yards, which was the second-best output by a rookie rusher in Big Ten history.

He was a sixth-round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2008.

“Michigan has always held a special place in my heart,” Hart said in a release. “It is a place that always believed in me and a place that I have always have believed in. I am excited to join Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan staff, and can’t wait to get to work with a talented running back group.”

Hart was a valuable assistant for the Hoosiers, helping bring in current workhorse back Stevie Scott thanks to their mutual backgrounds in Syracuse, N.Y. He also helped bring in a four-star prospect in Sampson James, the highest-rated recruit in IU history, according to 247Sports. IU also utilized some of Hart’s Michigan connections to grab fellow sophomore David Ellis.

In 2018, Hart was a nominee for the Bryoles Award, which goes to the top assistant in college footblal. IU has now had its last three Broyles nominees move on to other jobs, including defensive coordinator Kane Wommack in 2020 (head coach at South Alabama) and offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer in 2019 (head coach at Fresno State).

While this is somewhat a product of IU’s success, this continues a trend of significant staff turnover in the last year-plus. IU is also in need of a linebackers coach with the departure of Wommack. Tom Allen will have hired six new assistants in the 2020 and ’21 offseasons after he replaces Wommack and Hart, which also includes strength coach Aaron Wellman replacing performance coaches David Ballou and Matt Rhea.

Last offseason, Allen hired a new tight ends coach, Kevin Wright, safeties coach, Jason Jones, and defensive line coach, Kevin Peoples. Nick Sheridan was shifted to offensive coordinator.

19 comments

  1. This doesn’t surprise me at all as he didn’t like run production or focusing on the passing game with Penix at QB. I hope coach Allen brings in RB coach that is a good recruiter and also teaches RB how to move to openings and spin off tacklers unlike Hart didn’t do. Getting a coach that teaches those things to RBs will help James and Baldwin not to mention Scott since we haven’t heard he is leaving.

  2. Come on, V, none of what you’re saying holds up. Hart had no problem with the offense with Penix at quarterback and he was a very good position coach. He was also an excellent recruiter. He’s leaving for more money and to coach at his alma mater, not for anything else.

    1. As usual BD, you make all-encompasing, general criticisms aimed at the poster. While conditions are right for his long way back to Ann Arbor,…that he recruited well considering IU’s stature in the world of college football,..IU’s rushing numbers have been poor, especially for a supposedly up and coming program. V’S observations indicate a 12th place rushing offense in a conference of 14. Then again it’s altogether possible that YOU consider constantly sending your fullback-body type running back behind the blocking of your right guard as creative, imaginative.

    2. One other thing BD, as I recall, Penix & Co. racked up 491 yards in the air….ZERO on the ground against OSU. I think that ‘might’ be an area of concern.

  3. Big Money rules the game. A person is great, until they walk out the door to work for a competitor. Coach Allen tried to keep Hart happy with some up graded position titles and some additional money. a few years ago, but that was only for short term. Michigan’s needs some window dressing for their losing program.

  4. V13, I have to agree with BD this time. Hat’s move was about going home and making a lot more money. Given the firing of Brown and the haircut that Harbaugh took in his new contract, MI has a lot of money to spend upgrading Coordinators and position coaches. Brown was getting paid $1.5 million per, so MI has plenty of money to poach the coaches they want.

    Having said that, and while I believe Hart was a good RB coach, it’s not hard to find good RB coaches. And with what Hart was getting paid by IU, TA will be able to attract a lot of good candidates.

    Hart needs to be careful. He could end up like Hagen, who upgraded to a traditional powerhouse FB program, lost his job when the head coach got fired, went to Texas where it happened again, and is now at Purdue making a lot less money. You trade job security for big bucks, but the big bucks come with huge expectations. And IMO, new contract or not, Harbaugh has to be on the hot seat at MI. Hart could be out of a job very soon.

  5. Po, I believe coach Hart was a good recruiter and RB coach I just want one that teaches a different style of running as our backs didn’t break tackles all that much. Going back home meant he didn’t want the ND job he went after two years ago?

    BD, coach Hart was complaining about the offense this year so your criticism doesn’t hold water. I just want a coach more in line with a one back offense with a strong passing game making our run offense stronger. I am sure coach Hart went to Michigan for more money and to return to his alma mater but don’t discount his criticism of the offense over the past year.

    1. He wasn’t complaining about the offense from a schematic standpoint, V. Not sure where you got that information, but it’s not accurate. MH is, like Mark Hagen, a really good coach and recruiter. Understand his move but you saying he was unhappy with the O just isn’t true.

  6. v and I are both looking at the RB’s at IU having a more positive future. Hart’s departure doesn’t bother me at all. Other than recruiting positives I’ve never considered Hart anything but an average RB coach. He’s not close to a Deland McCullough. He didn’t want ND when he interviewed there. Now he leaves a rising ship for a sh¿t show run by a psycho. I think he smells a HCing gig soon to be available there. More power to him. He would be an upgrade. He indeed was a marquee college RB but his backs at IU never were anything close to producers of improving results and that’s on the OL and the room Hart controls. Has to be lots of good candidates out there already burning up Coach Allen’s phone who can really make a difference. I’ll wait patiently. Coach Allen is pretty good at picking pieces to the IUFB puzzle.

    1. Mike isn’t going to UM so he can get the HC job when / if Harbaugh leaves. It would never be offered to him. He’s just trying to advance his career, and he has an opportunity to do it at his alma mater, and for more money. He’ll be missed at IU as his contributions to the program were many. Good luck, MH.

      1. Everyone says “more money”, but does anyone know; 1) what did Hart make at IU (base plus all extras), 2) what will he make at MI? I have nothing against assistants improving their careers and lives, but every football and basketball assistant’s contract should have a minimum 1 million buy out clause for everyone! They proved their quality at IU. MI should pay IU!

        1. Why? It’s about moving up the coaching ladder in a profession that offers little security and many uncertainties, not to mention the strain on families who endure house moves and school changes.

          Coaches actively root for their guys to move up, be it in their program or elsewhere. IU wouldn’t have Tom Allen if not for that.

  7. I seem to recall that IU upgraded Hart’s title and salary last year to something around of $410,000. It could have been more, but I’m not sure about the number. Regardless, it would be easy for MI to offer him $600,000 or more. These major Power-five conference schools have the budgets and cash that allow them to buy Coordinators and position coaches at any time. Not much a school like IU can do about it.

  8. Oops, I was a little off in the above post. According to the USA Today College Football Assistant Coach Compensation database released last month, Mike Hart was making a salary of $375,000 at IU. I’m sure his bonus elevated his total income to over $400,000 this season. But Michigan can easily pay Hart a salary of $600,000 or more if they want to.

  9. Hart replaces Jay Harbaugh as Michigan’s RB coach. Michigan paid Jay Harbaugh a salary of $415,000 in 2020 (USA Today). So it would be reasonable to assume that Hart will get at least what his predecessor was making, or if Hart has a good agent, he will probably get paid substantially more.

    It’s distressing to note that in spite of the effort that Glass made to expand IU FB’s Coaching Compensation budget last year, IU is still losing ground relative to many other Power-five Conference schools. In 2020, Kane Wommack had the highest salary of any IU “assistant” coach with a salary of $460,000. That salary ranked him 218th in the FBS. In 2019, Purdue paid Anthony Poindexter a salary of $460,000, which ranked him as the 182nd highest salaried assistant coach in FBS.

    The Hoosier Nation better start buying tickets, attending home games and writing checks, or IU is going to continue losing ground and making it more difficult for TA to keep his best assistant coaches.

  10. Mike Hart was an excellent coach and recruiter for IU. I agree with BD- I think this is about a guy furthering his career and also getting to coach at his alma mater. I wish him all the luck in the world and hope our next running backs coach has as much success.

  11. I like Hart and agree that he was a good recruiter. But I never believed Hart was as good as his predecessor, Deland McCullough in either recruiting or player development.

    When is TA going to hire a new DC? I’m guessing it will be an up and coming defensive position coach from an NFL team. I read that one of the Cleveland Brown’s coaches is a candidate.

  12. DM was an excellent coach, maybe KW’s best hire. Not sure anyone would be at his level, though I think MH is really good in his own right.

    As for the DC, I know TA is / has talked to several people, but he hasn’t finalized anything. A couple of people have declined interest, but aiming high will do that. Things are a little delicate in the Covid-budget world, where pay cuts have been taken and where TA is looking at a sizable bump for some of the candidates he had his eye on. They’re going to have to be creative if they want to go outside of the family. If they don’t, you’ll have a very good idea why.

  13. Hardly an excellent RB coach. Yes a pretty good recruiter. He’ll shine brighter at Meatchicken because of the talent they attract. The Psycho needed a recruiter with program history. If the Psycho would leave you can rest assured MH will be high on the interview list.

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