Career Path: Pep Hamilton began as a quarterbacks coach at Howard, his alma mater. After taking over the offensive coordinator duties in his final three years on staff there, Hamilton made the professional leap to the NFL. Starting with the Baltimore Ravens as a personal intern, Pep worked his way up the ladder and has been employed by six different teams, ultimately obtaining offensive coordinator status for the Indianapolis Colts in 2013. Hamilton’s relationship with current University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh began in 2010 as the wide receivers coach at Stanford, and led to his gig as the current assistant head coach alongside Harbaugh with the Wolverines.
Buzz Surrounding the Hire: Bringing in a coach with both NFL and NCAA experience would create headlines in Charlotte, especially with Pep being a West Charlotte High School graduate and Queen City native. Taking over an offense that has struggled to throw the ball, Hamilton’s experience as a quarterbacks guru will have fans expecting the passing attack to reach another level. 49er football fans would relish the opportunity to bring in an offensive minded coach to start the program’s next chapter.
What’s There to Like: Being regionally known and recognized, Hamilton’s local connections will play a positive role in the recruiting world. Over the years Hamilton has worked with and developed college and professional quarterbacks such as Andrew Luck, Alex Smith, Kevin Hogan, and Jay Cutler. With Hamilton only being 44 years old, he fits the hiring mold for athletic directors and school presidents.
In 2014, Hamilton helped Andrew Luck cut his 18 interception total in his rookie season to just 9 in his second year. That Colts offense broke franchise records in passing yards (4,894), and total yards (6,506) with Hamilton calling the plays. His offensive schemes utilize tight ends with regularity, which is a perfect fit for a young quarterback like Chris Reynolds. Bringing NFL and Power Five coaching experience to a program searching for identity could be a perfect match.
Why They Should Proceed with Caution: Hamilton’s conservative play-calling was a red flag in his final season with the Indianapolis Colts and has led into his years in Ann Arbor. The biggest liability in Pep Hamilton’s resume is no head coaching experience across the board. We’ve seen notable offensive success with Pep on the staff, but nothing with him as the head honcho.
Why He Would Take the Job: An opportunity to be the head coach of a relatively new program seeking their chance to break out in mainstream Division I football. Charlotte’s program has no notable baggage, no true expectations, and new facilities in an established city. With a wealth of recruiting options in-state and in the Southeast, Hamilton’s first head coaching job could be a dream come true for both parties.
Analysis: “Pep didn’t only grow as a coach and a teacher to me, but also as a friend that I’d put it all on the line for, because of what he stood for as a coach and as a teacher. He’s the type of coach that gets everything out of his guys, and makes you want to play hard and smart!” Former Ohio State quarterback Terrell Pryor said this about Hamilton in a 2017 interview. With no head coaching experience, these are qualities you would want in a potential candidate.
Charlotte’s current DC Glenn Spencer has greatly improved the 49ers defense, as they led C-USA with the stingiest run defense for much of the season. With the addition of an offensive minded coach in Hamilton, Charlotte could make a sizable jump in Year 1 .
This would be a homerun hire for a program that can go nowhere but up. I believe that Hamilton’s reputation and connections in the Charlotte area combined with fertile recruiting grounds, could create significant strides within the 49ers program.
This hire would be a leap of faith considering the lack of head coaching experience, but one I think would pay great dividends. On a scale of 1-10, I believe this hire would be an 8.5.
Hiring Hamilton could put a little “Pep” in Charlotte’s step.