Defensive line coach Greg Mattison and linebackers coach Al Washington have both fled to Columbus, Ohio. Mattison had been Michigan’s defensive coordinator under Brady Hoke from 2011-2014, and he was demoted to defensive line since 2015, working under defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin that first year and then Don Brown the past three seasons.
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Mattison will be Ohio State’s co-defensive coordinator, along with former San Francisco 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley. Mattison has twice left Michigan in order to work for rivals, first for Notre Dame back in the mid-1990s and now to the most hated of rivals, the Ohio State Buckeyes. Business is business, and coaches float from place to place, but I don’t like this move from Mattison. He apparently had the option of renewing his contract at Michigan to continue as the defensive line coach. It’s an odd move because OSU already has defensive line coach Larry Johnson in place, who is quite possibly the best defensive line coach in college football. Mattison previously coached outside linebackers at Michigan when Mark Smith was the inside linebackers coach under Hoke, so maybe he and Washington will tag-team the linebacker position.
Meanwhile, Washington’s father played at Ohio State, and Al himself coached with new head coach Ryan Day at Boston College. Washington is a front seven guy, so with Mattison and Johnson on that staff – and defensive backs guy Hafley coming on board – it would seem to make sense that Washington is headed for the linebacker position in some form. Washington was a one-year rental for the 2018 season only, after having worked with Brown at Boston College. He was considered to be an integral part of recruiting the State of Ohio, and Michigan may have to consider that recruiting area when hiring replacements for Mattison and Washington. I don’t mind losing Washington, because his ties to Michigan were loose outside of Don Brown.
Some obvious names have been bandied about for the open positions:
- Former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke, who was fired this past season as the Carolina Panthers’ defensive line coach.
- Former Michigan linebackers/cornerbacks coach Roy Manning, who has spent the last three seasons at UCLA.
- Current Michigan staffer Devin Bush, Sr., who joined the staff briefly last winter to finish out the 2018 recruiting cycle.
In my opinion, Bush is the most likely guy to move to a coaching position. He was an excellent college safety and played in the NFL. Current safeties coach Chris Partridge had previously coached linebackers, so it’s possible that Bush could coach the safeties and send Partridge back to the linebacker position. Manning was not retained by Harbaugh, and Hoke would be an odd fit working under the head coach who replaced him. If Bush isn’t one of the additions, then I expect two new faces on the staff.
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