Michigan offensive line coach Ed Warinner on why he enjoys what he does, which includes returning to former schools turned rivals. Angelique S. Chengelis
Ann Arbor — Ed Warinner, Michigan’s new offensive line coach, spent five years coaching at rival Ohio State, and he’s also coached at in-state rival Michigan State and Notre Dame.
There’s a pattern here.
This fall, however, Warinner will run through the tunnels at all of those stadiums as a member of Michigan’s staff.
But it is his time at Ohio State that turns heads. Before spending last season at Minnesota, Warinner coached five years ago at Ohio State (2012-2016), including the first three years he was offensive line coach and co-offensive coordinator. He was elevated to coordinator in 2015.
His starting offensive line at Ohio State in the 2013 Big Ten championship game went on to start Day 1 as rookies in the NFL.
“When he first got here, he talked to us about how at one point his five starting offensive linemen at Ohio State all started the first game of their rookie season in the NFL,” Michigan lineman Jon Runyan Jr. said Thursday after practice.
“That really excites you a little bit. Kinda hoping maybe these five offensive linemen will do the same thing. We’ll get there soon enough, but we’re all really enjoying him.”
While left guard Ben Bredeson earlier in the week said he could only compliment Warinner’s success at Ohio State so much, the players know where his loyalties are now.
“He kinda let us know early on he’s full Michigan,” Runyan said.
Warinner understands the uniqueness of his coaching resume as it relates to his position at Michigan.
But he shrugs and explains it as the life of a coach, moving around to different programs. It just so happens he has coached for the Wolverines’ biggest rivals.
“Coaching is what it is,” Warinner said Thursday. “You go places, you coach, you give them everything you have, you do the best job you can and it’s a very high-stress job. It’s very high stress on the families, the coaches. Sometimes you just need to change to reenergize to refresh. Sometimes those things happen.
Offensive lineman Jon Runyan Jr. is impressed with Warinner's credentials, which include having five linemen he coached at Ohio State starting as rookies in the NFL. Angelique S. Chengelis
“All I know is everywhere I’ve been, I’ve loved it, I’ve worked hard and given them all I’ve had and I’m going to do the same thing here. I draw from the players. I love coaching college football players.
“I’m so proud of the guys I coached at Minnesota or Ohio State or Notre Dame or whatever, and I stay in touch with them, and I get contacted when they have children and when they get married I go to their weddings. That’s why you do this.”
Warinner said some of his former players have given him a hard time.
“But it’s not personal,” he said. “There’s rivalries. When we walk in the tunnel at Notre Dame (for the season opener), that’s going to be intriguing, right? I coached there for two years.
“When we go into the last home game (at Ohio State), that will be intriguing, right? When we go to the team in East Lansing, that will be, too, because I started my coaching career there. I coached there for two years as a graduate assistant.
“Jogging in those stadiums will be kind of interesting on this side and it will be fun. I look forward to that. All that’s just part of the game. It is what it is. Everybody understands. It’s about this team and about us getting better and us doing our job and maximizing what we can do with this team. That’s all I’m focused on. The other stuff are just happy memories.”
Call him Coach Kugler
Just a few months ago, Patrick Kugler was still Michigan’s fifth-year starter center. Now, he’s a graduate assistant on the team, which makes for some amusing interactions with his former teammates who are still playing.
“It’s funny seeing him in there,” Runyan said. “He was playing next to me a few months ago and now he’s a coach. He’s doing a really good job. He’s enjoying it. Long, hard hours as a GA. He’s pushing through it.”
So how does Runyan refer to Kugler?
“I call him 'Coach' jokingly,” Runyan said, smiling. “I call him 'Kugs,' but when I’m trying to joke with him I’ll call him, ‘Hey Coach Kugler,’ or call him, ‘Sir,’ or something like that just to mess around with him.”
Michigan spring game
Kickoff: 7 p.m., Saturday, April 14, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor
TV/radio: BTN/WWJ 950
Notable: Gates open at 5 p.m. and at 5:20 an episode of the Amazon Prime series “All or Nothing: The Michigan Wolverines,” will be shown on the video boards.