ANN ARBOR, Mich. - It has been a long couple of weeks for new Michigan offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, but the agreement that brought him to Ann Arbor came together very quickly.
Gattis was the wide receivers' coach and co-offensive coordinator at Alabama last season, and coached his final game Jan. 7 in the national championship against Clemson.
How Harbaugh landed Gattis
Days later, rumors surfaced that Gattis would join his former Alabama colleague, Mike Locksley, at Maryland. Then, out of nowhere, he ended up at Michigan.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh spoke about the entire process on his "Attack Each Day" podcast.
"I found out through the grapevine that Josh was considering leaving Alabama and going to Maryland, so we reached out and asked if he'd have any interest in Michigan," Harbaugh said. "I called him at 10 in the morning, and by 3:30 he was coming to Michigan with a signed memorandum of understanding. Then was on a plane here a day or two later."
Gattis said he was surprised by the phone call.
"I was, considering the timing of it," Gattis said. "Last week was just an emotional week. It feels like we played the national championship game two years ago, but that was last Monday. Coming off the national championship game, I had a few opportunities that a lot of teams were kind of calling to gauge interest. It kind of caught me off guard because I wasn't looking to make a one-year stop anywhere. You look at my track record, I've been places for a long time. I was with James Franklin for six years. Then opportunities started presenting themselves and I had some tough choices to make.
"Obviously, professionally and personally, one of my goals was to be an offensive coordinator. That's been a lifelong dream of mine. I think that's something that the input that I've had and the fingerprint I've been able to leave on a lot of programs has allowed me to continue to prepare myself to put me in this position."
Gattis says Nick Saban wasn't happy
Before receiving the phone call from Harbaugh, Gattis said he told Alabama head coach Nick Saban that he was planning to leave.
Apparently, the conversation wasn't exactly pleasant for Gattis.
"When Coach 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 about 20 minutes telling him I was leaving, and he was trying to keep me to stay," Gattis said. "So, it did not go over well.
"If there was any band-aid to the bruise, or to what he left on me, it was that phone call (with Harbaugh). It was exciting to hear his voice and to get a chance to talk to him personally."
Gattis knew Michigan was right job
"When you know it's right, and it hits your gut, it doesn't take long," Gattis said. "I was convicted on this. I had to tell some people no. I had to tell some people I wasn't coming, and it was a hard day telling those people that I wasn't going to be a part of their program, because of previous relationships. But when you feel convicted inside (that) this is the right place that you should be -- the right staff, the right coach that you want to be around -- it helps ease away those concerns. I'm so proud to be here, so proud to be a part of this opportunity, and looking forward to it."
Harbaugh said he has been keeping tabs on Gattis throughout his coaching career, which included stops at Western Michigan, Vanderbilt and Penn State before Alabama.
"I've been tracking Josh for a while now," Harbaugh said. "When we played against him and when he coached at Penn State, and I was aware of what he had done at Western Michigan and Vanderbilt, and at Alabama.
"Having the opportunity to add Josh to the staff, I thought, was a great home run-, grand slam-type of hire."
"Today, we are a much better program than we were 10 days ago, in my judgment," Harbaugh's father, Jack Harbaugh, said. "Seeing the personalities in the program, and to see our young people, how they walk in that door today and that smile on their face and their excitement to get to that weight room. We are a better football team right now than we were, and we will just get better."
Michigan recruiting Director Matt Dudek was part of the welcome committee Michigan sent to pick Gattis up in Tuscaloosa. The new wide receivers' coach said he was impressed with the gesture.
"That was an emotional moment right there," Gattis said. "Just the hospitality, first and foremost, has, by far, blown me away -- from everyone that we've met and that moment that you spoke about on the plane -- seeing my kids put that (Michigan No. 1) jersey on. Let me tell you, my son has not taken that jersey off all week. Moments like that really make this opportunity so special for me and my family, and we couldn't be more proud to be a part of the program."
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