ANN ARBOR — Back in 2014, when Ed Warinner was the offensive line maestro at Ohio State, churning out first-round NFL talent, recruiting the best linemen in America, and winning a national championship, he stepped to the podium inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center during a booster event.
Former Ohio State offensive coordinator Ed Warinner will now see the other side of the rivalry coaching on the staff at Michigan under Jim Harbaugh.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH via AP Enlarge
“Late in the fall,” Warinner said, “a lot of people get nervous because of a lot of loud and annoying wolverines. If that makes you nervous and bothers you, if you move your family out to Pasadena for a month, you’ll be fine. You never have to deal with it.”
Applause and laughter ensued, and Warinner continued.
"That team up north, I heard someone came in and stole some playbooks,” he said. “And I hear Brady [Hoke] was really upset because he hadn’t finished coloring them.”
Those remarks feel like decades ago. After a second consecutive mundane offensive season, capped by Clemson’s 31-0 humbling of the Buckeyes in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl, Warinner, who spent five years in Columbus, left for Minnesota after essentially being given his marching orders from Urban Meyer.
Warinner spent one season as the Gophers’ offensive line coach and run game coordinator before arriving at Michigan, first as an offensive analyst and then as offensive line coach when Tim Drevno and UM agreed to part ways. Suddenly, someone who spent time in the heart of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry was back, only this time he’s on the opposite side — the one he besmirched.
“Coaching is what it is,” said Warinner, wearing a Block ‘M’ hat and Michigan pullover. “You go places, you coach, you give them everything you have, you do the best job you can. It’s a very high-stress job — it’s high stress on the families and the coaches. Sometimes, you just need to change to energize and refresh.
“All I know is everywhere I’ve been, I’ve loved it, I’ve worked hard, and I’ve given them everything I’ve had. And I’m going to do the same thing here.”
There already was an awkward moment when a Michigan recruiting pamphlet touted first-round draft picks Warinner produced at Ohio State, presumably marking the first time in the rivalry’s history that one school bragged about the other’s NFL players.
“It’s kind of funny, the team up north claiming some Buckeyes,” said former Ohio State offensive lineman Jamarco Jones, who was recruited by Warinner.
“It’s a little surprising [that Warinner went to Michigan], I can’t lie about that,” Jones added. “But I wish him the best in the future, except on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.”
Even Warinner’s current players didn’t want to discuss his past too much.
“There’s been some great O-lines over there,” junior offensive lineman Ben Bredeson said. “Obviously I’m not going to sing Ohio State’s praises for that long, but he did a hell of a job. I’m excited to have him here.”
“He let us know early on he’s full Michigan,” junior offensive lineman Jon Runyan, Jr., said.
The entire season will be filled with intriguing moments, as Warinner characterized them. He was a former Notre Dame assistant under Brian Kelly; his son, Edward, plays for Michigan State, where Warinner began his coaching career; and, of course, on Nov. 24 Warinner will return to Ohio Stadium.
"I laughed [when he got the job],” Edward Warinner told reporters in East Lansing. “I mean, I was happy. It’s not a big deal. He can do his thing, I do my thing. I committed before he took the job. It’s not weird, he’s my dad. I’m as close with him as I am anybody. I love it. I think it’s fun.”
Said dad: “It’s not personal. There’s rivalries.”
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