Former defensive coordinator Scott Shafer: 'I just didn't fit' at Michigan
Scott Shafer, hired this week as Syracuse's new head coach, has moved on since a disastrous one-year run as Michigan's defensive coordinator.
But he has not forgot.
Shafer was hired away from Stanford in 2008 by Rich Rodriguez, then Michigan's first-year head coach, and presided over a defense that allowed a school-record 28.9 points per game. Michigan went a school-worst 3-9 overall.
Shafer says now he didn't do enough research when he accepted the position, and that, in retrospect, it was an awkward marriage.
“I just didn’t fit,” Shafer said Friday during a teleconference with reporters. “I went to Michigan because it was Michigan. I’m from Ohio, and when I was young, I thought there were only two colleges: Ohio State and Michigan. I didn’t practice what I preached through the years to my recruits. I said, for years to my recruits, 'It’s not about the buildings, it’s not about the stadium, it’s not about the uniforms. It’s not even about the tradition. It’s about the people you’re going to be with for the next four to five years.'
"I just didn’t fit. I wish I would have researched it a little bit better to know I wasn’t going to fit in with that group.”
Shafer joined a defensive staff that already was mostly constructed, with Bruce Tall (defensive line) and Tony Gibson (secondary) accompanying Rodriguez from West Virginia to Michigan.
Shafer left after the season, and was hired as Syracuse's defensive coordinator the following year. The Orange, which finished 102nd in total defense the year before Shafer arrived, finished 37th in his first season.
He said the experience at Michigan, although painful, helped him grow.
“I got a lot of good out of (the opportunity), a lot of wisdom out of that, that whole group, coach Rodriguez and that whole group," Shafer said. "I appreciated that opportunity, and I learned a lot from it.”
Shafer also is thankful for Michigan's world-class health system, which treated his wife, Missy, after she was diagnosed with melanoma cancer.
“She hasn’t had any cancer for over three years," Shafer said. "So, getting beat up there for a year was well worth it to see those beautiful eyes every morning."
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