Editor's update: Ben Herbert reportedly will join Jim Harbaugh on the LA Chargers as of Monday morning.
After – and even before – Jim Harbaugh's hiring as the new head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, the sports media started to rumor about who could join his staff as his offensive and defensive coordinators.
For offensive coordinator, perhaps the most attractive position after head coach, the hot names are Greg Roman (former Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator) and David Shaw (former Stanford University offensive coordinator and head coach), both of whom worked with Harbaugh.
On the other hand, Jesse Minter, Michigan's defensive coordinator last season, is leaving with Harbaugh to fill that same role with the Chargers. However, there is a crucial coaching position that is barely talked about, and this is the head strength and conditioning coach.
Though Jonathan Brooks is the current Chargers strength and conditioning coach, his fate has not been determined. Brooks served 4 years as assistant strength coach, before being promoted to his current position, where he has worked for the last 3 years.
While Brooks' fate is not official, it may have already been decided. It looks like Harbaugh wants to bring more Michigan staffers with him, as Ben Herbert has emerged as a strong candidate to be hired by the Chargers.
What would Ben Herbert bring to the Chargers coaching staff?
Before arriving to Michigan in January 2018, Ben Herbert spent most of his career at the University of Arkansas and the University of Wisconsin, serving as head strength and conditioning coach for both programs. He was part of the Badgers team that reached three consecutive Rose Bowls, one of them with Russell Wilson at quarterback.
Described by Jim Harbaugh as “the X-factor of our entire program" in his time with the Wolverines, Herbert trained almost 40 players to get them ready for the college season and an eventual NFL career, according to Fox Sports. On3's The Wolverine's Anthony Broome accurately highlights the significance of this role within college football:
"In college football, you're taking these lanky 17, 18-year-old kids and turning them into guys, that by the end of their college career, look like NFL players."
Fox Sports also mentions that Herbert is player-oriented, as no other coach spends as much time with them, and he strives to get the best out of his players.
However, Ben Herbert signed a $5 million, 5-year contract with Michigan in 2023 (one of the highest-paid strength and conditioning coaches). If willing to leave, Herbert would become a very important piece within Jim Harbaugh's staff, as not only would he finish developing the young players, but would also bring a physicality the Chargers have lacked recently.
The clearest example is the missed tackles, especially in the run defense in 2021-2022 and in the pass defense in 2023, which turned into many big plays. He would also instill discipline and toughness to the offensive line, which they lacked in 2023, and resulted in Justin Herbert's season-ending injury.
Chargers fans are fed up with the perceived lack of effort from both the defense and offense, so Jonathan Brooks' departure and Ben Herbert's arrival would make a lot of sense if it weren't for his juicy Michigan contract. In addition to improving quarterback play, head coach Jim Harbaugh is known for his discipline and physicality, so Chargers fans should trust him regardless of who is the strength and conditioning coach.