Coaching Search: Defensive Coordinator

Coaching Search: Defensive Coordinator


December 2, 2015

Defensive coordinator Scott Shafer worked with Morgan Trent (#14)

Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin is reportedly heading to Maryland to be their new head coach, where he will replace interim coach Mike Locksley, who replaced Randy Edsall.

Here are some potential replacements for Durkin at Michigan, listed in order of likelihood:

SCOTT SHAFER
Previously:
Syracuse head coach (2013-2015)
Pros: Worked with Jim Harbaugh as Harbaugh’s defensive coordinator at Stanford in 2007. Familiar with the tradition and atmosphere at Michigan after working under Rich Rodriguez at Michigan in 2008; also spent two years as Western Michigan defensive coordinator. Twelve years of experience as a defensive coordinator. Head coach experience. Consistently had solid defenses as defensive coordinator for struggling Syracuse program. Available immediately.
Cons: Had bad experience at Michigan when forced to run Rich Rodriguez’s 3-3-5 defense in 2008. If things go poorly early, fans will not forget 2008. Has never fielded elite defenses. No experience coaching linebackers or defensive line, which would be the potential openings. Mostly a 4-3 guy, a departure from Michigan’s current unit.

Hit the jump for more potential defensive coordinators.

LANCE ANDERSON
Currently:
Stanford defensive coordinator (2014-2015)
Pros: Worked with Jim Harbaugh as defensive line coach and linebackers coach at San Diego and Stanford. Two seasons of defensive coordinator experience at Stanford. Stanford was #7 in DFEI in 2014. Part of winning programs at San Diego and Stanford. West coast connections for recruiting in an area full of talent. Experience as recruiting coordinator. Experience with 3-4 defenses, which would mitigate transition.
Cons: Would presumably need to finish out college season for Stanford. Limited experience as defensive coordinator. Mostly a west coast guy except for coaching a few seasons at Bucknell (in Pennsylvania). Reportedly turned down Michigan’s overtures last off-season.

DON “WINK” MARTINDALE
Currently:
Baltimore Ravens linebackers coach (2012-2015)
Pros: Worked with Jim Harbaugh and Jack Harbaugh at Western Kentucky in early 2000s. Worked with John Harbaugh for Baltimore Ravens from 2012-2015. Two seasons of defensive coordinator experience (Western Kentucky, Denver Broncos). Extensive linebacker coaching experience. Won a Super Bowl with Baltimore and an FCS national championship with Western Kentucky. Played high school ball at Trotwood (OH) Trotwood-Madison, so presumably could develop Ohio connections for recruiting. Experience with 3-4 defenses, which would mitigate transition.
Cons: Limited defensive coordinator experience. Has not coached college football or recruited since 2003. Would need to finish out the NFL season.

GREG MATTISON
Currently:
Michigan defensive line coach (2015)
Pros: Worked with Jim Harbaugh as Harbaugh’s defensive line coach in 2014. Familiar with the tradition and atmosphere at Michigan after working under Lloyd Carr, Brady Hoke, and Jim Harbaugh. Sixteen years of experience as defensive coordinator, including three in NFL. Coached NFL stars Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs, among others. Consistently had good defenses in NFL and college. Good recruiter. Ability to coach defensive line or linebackers. Experience with 3-4 and 4-3 defenses. Available immediately.
Cons: Old. Likely to retire in not-too-distant future. Demoted by Harbaugh from defensive coordinator to defensive line coach. Has reputation for defenses wearing out late in the game.

VIC FANGIO
Currently:
Chicago Bears defensive coordinator (2015)
Pros: Seventeen years of experience as defensive coordinator, including sixteen in the NFL. Familiar with Jim Harbaugh after being his defensive coordinator at Stanford in 2010 and with the San Francisco 49ers from 2011-2014. Grew up in Pennsylvania and could presumably establish connections in Big Ten country. Fielded good-to-great defenses overall at San Francisco. NFL coaching experience could be good recruiting tool.
Cons: Only one year of college football experience. Has not coached in college or recruited since 2010. Salary may be exorbitant. Reportedly turned down Harbaugh’s overtures last off-season.

CHUCK HEATER
Currently:
Marshall defensive coordinator (2013-2015)
Pros: Played at Michigan and was 2nd Team All-Big Ten running back. Familiar with the tradition and atmosphere at Michigan after playing and coaching under Bo Schembechler. Seven years of experience as defensive coordinator. Won two national championships with Florida. Marshall has been #23 and #26 in FEI the past two seasons.
Cons: Old. Likely to retire in not-too-distant future. Experience is in coaching defensive backs. Would presumably need to finish college season with Marshall. Not familiar with Harbaugh. Not a splash hire.

19 comments

  1. Comments: 183
    Joined: 9/3/2015
    suduri xusai
    Dec 02, 2015 at 6:02 PM

    Argh. Mattison might be a short-term fix if Harbaugh need time to lure in big names. But we really do need big names for the sake of recruiting. I think we are not doing well if we have to resort to Chuck Heater or Greg Mattison permanently. I hope Harbaugh can lure in a NFL guy while Mattison takes care of defense in the meantime. And please no Shafer. I just don’t think he’s that great and it won’t help with recruiting. If I was Harbaugh I’d temporarily promote Mattison and get on the phone with NFL guys with LB coaching experience.

  2. Comments: 7
    Joined: 12/3/2015
    schang1
    Dec 02, 2015 at 10:55 PM

    The best options right now are either Pruitt, Fangio and perhaps someone else from the NFL. Perhaps, Dan Pees, Kris Richard can be considered for Harbaugh. My concern for Pruitt is that he does not work with LBs, only DBs and we already have two DB coaches.

  3. Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Dec 03, 2015 at 11:21 AM

    Shafer’s the only realistic candidate here. Most of these feel like rehashes of ‘names’ that came up in the offseason but none of them make much sense. Anderson would be making a lateral move and he already said no to JH last year. Mattison’s already here, his ego is in check, and there’s nothing to gain from promoting him unless you fail in finding a good hire. Martindale’s legit I guess, but his DC chops are in doubt. Heater’s old and wouldn’t be in the conversation at all if he hadn’t gone here.

    I’m more interested in a comment you made about the 3-4 D and continuity. Brian Cook has been adamant all year that this is a 4-3 and that the Buck is not much different than the WDE. From my untrained eye, I’m not see the big NT lining up straight over the OC – that I expect from a classic 3-4. Indeed, I attributed the continuity that Mattison provided to be part of what made Michigan so successful on D this year. So — what is the best way to describe what Michigan is running, Thunder?

    Your answer might be worth a post, if you care enough to get into the details.

    • Comments: 3845
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Dec 03, 2015 at 11:41 AM

      I think a defense is whatever you call it. I think the Buck linebacker is used more like an OLB than a WDE. He’s identified as a Buck linebacker, so that indicates to me that it’s considered a 3-4. You can shift into anything from either base defense. It’s true that you don’t necessarily see that mammoth nose tackle in the middle, but a) you can succeed in a 3-4 without one and b) you would have seen it more if Bryan Mone were healthy. I saw enough of Glasgow and Hurst at NT to consider this a 3-4 defense.

  4. Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Dec 03, 2015 at 12:10 PM

    Thanks.

    My feeling was that we were both, before Durkin and with him. Just depends on the play call and offense. Mattison had said something to the effect previously.

    I do agree the Buck did play more like an OLB (in that he was off the line regularly), but Michigan used to call the WDE their Rush LB (who was almost never off the line and played with his hand down at least 90% of the time), so it seems like semantics mostly.

    Anyway, given the personnel the team has, I expect the BUCK to be gone next year and Taco Charlton to be inserted as a starter on the edge. They could call it anything but to me it’ll be a rush end.

  5. Comments: 523
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    DonAZ
    Dec 03, 2015 at 9:29 PM

    I’m curious … would a long-time NFL defensive coach find coaching college players challenging because the skill level lower and less consistent?

    I know Harbaugh is ex-NFL, but he has recent college experience, and he himself is a kid at heart. But take someone like Bill Belichick and all his expectations of perfection … could that be a problem if he suddenly went to the college ranks?

    • Comments: 1357
      Joined: 8/13/2015
      Roanman
      Dec 04, 2015 at 6:45 AM

      At the college level offenses are far more diverse. There are five, maybe seven different Spreads, Air Raid, Pro Style, West Coast, Pistol, Harbaugh, Tempo, Navy runs a true and very nasty Triple Option. Because of inherent advantages and disadvantages in acquiring talent, coaches are forced to innovate and actively/aggressively pursue systems advantages. Wrinkles abound

      The pros run elements of all of it with the probable exception of a triple option, but everybody at the professional level is very similar week to week. Nobody is running anything that is off the charts different from last weeks opponent, Bellichek might be the one exception here because he seemingly truly game plans his opponent.

      The wildness ratchets up another notch at the high school level. There is at least one high school team in Michigan running a true Single Wing. That’s one of the elements that makes high school football so much fun.

      • Comments: 1357
        Joined: 8/13/2015
        Roanman
        Dec 04, 2015 at 6:46 AM

        Then there’s the recruiting thing.

  6. Comments: 35
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    TriFloyd
    Dec 08, 2015 at 5:48 PM

    Shafer apparently just hired as DC for Maryland.

    Thunder, why did you dislike Shafer as the next Michigan DC? It seemed like you really like him when he was here the first time. I thought that you mentioned that you went to hear him speak a few times and were impressed.

    I’m confused about the talk re: Randy Shannon. Isn’t he the current DC at Florida, who has a great defense? Why would he just jump from there to here?

    • Comments: 3845
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Dec 08, 2015 at 6:11 PM

      I think you might have me confused with someone else. There’s another coach (Space Coyote at MGoBlog, I believe) who likes Shafer a lot. I think Shafer got a bad rap, but I was not a huge fan of him either way. Regardless, I don’t think he has shown enough on the field to warrant another shot as Michigan’s defensive coordinator. He has not been that stellar anywhere he has been, and I’m just talking about his DC jobs, not head coaching (which is a different animal and somewhat irrelevant).

      Randy Shannon is co-defensive coordinator with Geoff Collins at Florida. In fact, Collins’s job is “Defensive Coordinator” while Shannon’s job is “Associate Head Coach/Co-Coordinator/Linebackers.” Furthermore, he’s a linebacker guy, so he would presumably fit right in with the current opening at Michigan while getting full coordinator duties and a bump in pay.

      • Comments: 1357
        Joined: 8/13/2015
        Roanman
        Dec 09, 2015 at 2:24 PM

        I love the thought of Randy Shannon as a DC here, but why on earth would he leave Florida to make maybe not even a lateral move? He can leverage an interview into a raise I suppose, but if i’m Randy Shannon, I’m thinking life is pretty good my home state, Florida.

        • Comments: 3845
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Dec 09, 2015 at 2:37 PM

          You rarely come across coaches who reach the level of FBS head coach – particularly at a big program like Miami – and then are satisfied with being a “co-coordinator.” Becoming THE defensive coordinator at Michigan would probably be a pay raise, and it might be another step toward securing a big head coaching gig.

          • Comments: 1357
            Joined: 8/13/2015
            Roanman
            Dec 09, 2015 at 2:53 PM

            I’d take him in a heartbeat, but Co-Head Football Coach and Co-DC sounds bigger to me than just DC.

            If I’m Randy Shannon, I’m all over that interview, then I’m going home to work out my raise.

          • Comments: 3845
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Dec 09, 2015 at 3:47 PM

            There’s nothing saying he couldn’t be an “associate head coach” at Michigan.

  7. Comments: 8
    Joined: 12/2/2015
    CrangSr
    Dec 08, 2015 at 8:47 PM

    How about Tosh Lupoi? He is young. Coached DL and LB. He’s coached on the west coast and now in the South at Bama. He is supposedly one of the best recruiters. Is he good enough to be a DC? I have no clue. But if he is, he might be worth a shot. He was hired by Saban as an inter to help out with recruiting and now is coaching the LB there. It would be a definite pay raise for him. People keep mentioning getting the next up and comer. Could he be it? What are you thoughts Thunder?

    • Comments: 3845
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Dec 09, 2015 at 9:10 AM

      I would say no to Lupoi for numerous reasons. First of all, Harbaugh and Michigan can get a more established, successful coach. You don’t need to take a huge risk to have success. Lupoi has also been involved in some questionable recruiting practices. He was under NCAA investigation for a while, and he also has a reputation for fibbing to recruits like Will Muschamp just did at Auburn. Also, Lupoi has no experience as a coordinator and has never been tasked with a great deal of responsibility. He has always been a position coach. For example, at Alabama he was a “defensive analyst” before getting promoted to “outside linebackers coach.” I think a DC job for him at Michigan is a huge stretch.

      • Comments: 8
        Joined: 12/2/2015
        CrangSr
        Dec 09, 2015 at 2:54 PM

        Thanks. I was trying to looks outside of the box so to speak. I saw picture of him with a recruit and thought maybe. SO I asked. Then I googled and saw the issues you mentioned. Harbaugh is meeting with Pruitt so maybe we have a shot there.

        • Comments: 8
          Joined: 12/2/2015
          CrangSr
          Dec 09, 2015 at 3:02 PM

          Ok so disregard the whole Pruitt thing. I just read your comments on MGoBlog. Who do you think would best fit or who is the best available?

          • Comments: 3845
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Dec 09, 2015 at 3:45 PM

            My personal top choice would be Randy Shannon. Not an old guy, good defensive coach, connections in Florida, etc.

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