Michigan Set To Hire Tony Alford as RB Coach From Rival Ohio State

    Michigan scored a point over rival Ohio State in the figurative offseason scoreboard by hiring Tony Alford as its new running back coach.

    As Sherrone Moore’s Michigan Wolverines staff continues to take shape, it’s clear the first-time head coach is valuing experience at the Power Five level. His latest hire — RB coach Tony Alford — has plenty of that, but brings something extra to the table, at least in the eyes of Michigan fans.

    That something extra is that Alford has spent the last eight seasons at the Ohio State Buckeyes, Michigan’s biggest rival. For Moore, it’s a win in the offseason that suggests those who think Michigan’s streak of dominance over the Buckeyes is finished may be a bit premature.

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    RB Coach Tony Alford Moving From Ohio State to Michigan

    Alford has nearly 30 years of experience as a running backs coach at the college level, but unlike many of his peers, he doesn’t often move jobs. In fact, Michigan will be just his third school since 2009.

    Alford has been the running backs coach and assistant head coach for offense since midway through Urban Meyer’s tenure in 2015. Before that, he spent six years as the running backs and slot receivers coach with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

    The Colorado State alum has coached numerous All-American running backs and his resume speaks for itself.

    On his own merit, Alford is a home run hire for Moore and a Michigan staff that wants to simultaneously create its own identity and continue the momentum from Jim Harbaugh’s last year in Ann Arbor.

    What Alford’s Hire Means For Michigan

    However, this is Michigan, and if there’s one thing Wolverine fans love more than nearly anything else, it is beating Ohio State. After decades of Buckeye dominance on the field, Harbaugh finally had Michigan moving in the right direction, with three-straight wins in “The Game.”

    If you talk to the fanbase, there’s a bit of nervous energy.

    Sure, Moore’s resume is excellent, and most Michigan fans will agree that he was a great hire, a guy who knows the program and was an integral part of its recent success.

    However, he’s never been a head coach and there’s a legitimate fear that the Wolverines could lose some of the momentum it has recently picked up against its rival. That’s especially true with the talent the Buckeyes return this season.

    In terms of pure level of play and impact on the field, this move isn’t huge. Whether it was Alford or someone else, Michigan was always going to hire a qualified running backs coach. And even though losing Alford stings Ohio State, TreVeyon Henderson and Quinshon Judkins should still have huge seasons. The Buckeyes will replace Alford with a quality coach.

    And while Alford surely knows some of the inner workings of Ohio State, by the time the teams meet in November, Michigan’s competitive advantage from having a former Buckeye staffer in the room will be negligible.

    MORE: 2024 Michigan Wolverines Football Roster

    From an optics perspective, though, this is a huge win for the Wolverines. Poaching Alford simultaneously weakens their biggest rival and strengthens the identity of their team. A huge Big Ten offseason narrative to this point has been the strength of Ohio State’s running game and the two-headed monster that will lead the charge in Columbus.

    Now, one of the primary architects of that running game will make his way to Ann Arbor.

    It’s no secret that Michigan wants to maintain its offensive identity, one that ran the ball on 60% of its offensive plays despite having a potential first-round quarterback under center. Alford will certainly take some of the pressure off of Moore to continue that trend in 2024.

    Ohio State will still maintain its high preseason ranking, and in practice, little will change for the Buckeyes. But for Michigan, Alford’s hire signals that Moore is doubling down on the running game while simultaneously dealing a blow to its rival and scoring a figurative point on the offseason rivalry scoreboard.

    KEEP READING: Drake Nugent on Michigan’s Future With Sherrone Moore

    The long-term outcome of Alford’s hire is unknown, but in the present, count it as another win for Michigan over its bitter rivals.

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