Michigan went 2-4 in 2020 and, while the football was pretty bad, it looked like there were issues within the program that extended beyond the field. Those concerns were confirmed during the offseason as Jim Harbaugh cleaned house and hired six new assistants.
One of those assistants is former Michigan wide receiver Ron Bellamy, who was fresh off a state championship at West Bloomfield — a school he turned into a powerhouse over the last several years. Earlier today he spoke about the new culture at Michigan and it became abundantly clear that Bellamy himself is one of the reasons for the new vibe around Schembechler Hall.
"You want positivity in your room — accountability and positivity," Bellamy said of his approach. "One of the things is we're going to lift our brothers up. By doing that they know how to check each other, in a respectful, positive way."
You get the sense that Bellamy stepped right in and earned that respect of everyone immediately. He's a former wide receiver and high school head coach, now coaching college safeties. That transition might not work for everyone, but it appears to have been seamless for Bellamy.
"I think for me a lot of the kids knew me already because I came around a lot with my kids from West Bloomfield," Bellamy explained. "Having Makari Paige as one of my former players and having him in my position group I think they asked him a lot of questions about me. He told them the truth about me.
"Like I answered a minute ago, I think it's about culture. If it's a culture of positivity and accountability, then you're going to gain the kids' trust right away. It's love. We make sure we tell the kids we love them everyday. It's something that a lot of people don't hear everyday and it's something that some people don't get a chance to experience. When you know it's genuine, then you're willing to do anything for a person to be successful."
Bellamy has stepped in and made a difference. Answers like this, combined with how the players are talking and performing, prove it. And the key is, it's several coaches. Cornerbacks coach Steve Clinkscale, new offensive line coach Sherrone Moore and running backs coach Mike Hart especially seem to have completely revitalized the culture at Michigan in a hurry. Add in what guys like quarterbacks coach Matt Weiss and defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald seem to bring from the detail, organization side and you suddenly have a formula that is working in a big way.
Conference play is certainly a different animal, but this Michigan team feels as equipped as any under Jim Harbaugh to grind it out and succeed.