A lot of rumors have been floating around over the past couple days about potential replacements for defensive line coach Greg Mattison (now Ohio State’s co-defensive coordinator) and Viper/outside linebacker coach Al Washington (now Ohio State’s linebackers coach). Here are some of the names I’ve heard and a few thoughts on each:
- Brian Baker (Mississippi State DL coach): Baker carried over from Dan Mullen’s staff to Joe Moorhead’s, and he coached in the NFL for 19 years with the Lions, Redskins, Browns, Cowboys, Vikings, Rams, and Panthers. He’s from Maryland and played college ball at Maryland. He has coached some excellent NFL players over the years (Robert Porcher, Luther Elliss, Kevin Williams, etc.), but he has no real connections to the states of Michigan or Ohio for local recruiting purposes, and his track record is not that of a rising star.
- Devin Bush, Sr. (Michigan analyst): Bush was the head coach at Flanagan High School in Florida for a few seasons before getting hired as a defensive analyst at Michigan. As a former Florida State and NFL player, he has the playing chops to carry some weight with players. He does have connections in the fertile recruiting grounds of Florida. As a former safety, he would probably be best served coaching safeties while bumping current safeties coach Chris Partridge back to linebackers.
- Anthony Campanile (Boston College co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach): Campanile is a New Jersey native who attended (but did not play football at) Rutgers, and he has since coached at Rutgers and Boston College, along with a couple high schools in New Jersey. One of those high schools is traditional powerhouse Don Bosco Prep, the school where Jabrill Peppers played before controversially transferring to Paramus Catholic. Campanile was named co-defensive coordinator at Boston College prior to 2018, which was his third year at B.C. Boston College finished at #70 in total defense in 2018. UPDATE: Campanile was hired as a defensive assistant.
- Brady Hoke (unemployed): Hoke’s history is well known. He has been the head coach at Ball State, San Diego State, and Michigan; he was the defensive coordinator at Oregon for one season; and he has been the defensive line coach at several places, including Michigan and with the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers fired him mid-season in 2018. I think it would be extremely awkward for him to work under Jim Harbaugh, who replaced him as head coach in Ann Arbor, but Hoke does have some historical success as a defensive line coach and recruits well in the midwest. It would be a good hire if there’s no awkwardness, but Hoke would probably consider himself to be overqualified to be just a position coach, meaning he would be a short-term hire.
- Cato June (Howard University safeties coach/recruiting coordinator): June is from Washington, D.C., and played college ball at Michigan before spending time in the NFL with the Colts, Buccaneers, Texans, and Bears. He has since been a high school coach before coaching running backs and safeties at Howard. Aside from being a Michigan alumnus, he lacks the track record and seemingly lacks the desired relationships to make him a big-time coach/recruiter at this juncture.
- Roy Manning (UCLA special teams coordinator): Manning is a former Michigan outside linebacker who spent some time with various NFL teams in the mid-2000s before retiring. He has coached running backs, linebackers, cornerbacks, and special teams at various stops, including Michigan (LB/CB), Cincinnati, and Washington State. Manning is from Saginaw, Michigan, so he would seemingly have some in-state contacts for recruiting purposes, but he was not retained by Jim Harbaugh in the transition from Brady Hoke, so that too might cause some awkward feelings.
Jerry Montgomery (Green Bay Packers defensive line coach):Montgomery has had a bit of an odd coaching career. After playing at Iowa and getting a cup of coffee in the NFL, he has since coached at Iowa, Northern Iowa, Wyoming, Michigan, Oklahoma, and with the Green Bay Packers. He left the Packers for two weeks at one point to take a job with Texas A&M, but when the Packers came back and offered him more responsibility, he ditched TAMU to go back to Green Bay. His two years at Michigan (2011-2012) were cut short when he was lured away by the Sooners. Known as a good recruiter and solid coach, he reportedly wants to be a coordinator or be in the NFL. If he were lured away from Green Bay, my guess is he would be a one-year rental, and Michigan could find itself in another awkward position when he ditches defensive line responsibilities for another gig in the NFL right in the middle of recruiting the 2020 class. UPDATE: Montgomery has been retained by the Packers.
- Shaun Nua (Arizona State defensive line coach): Nua, who is from American Samoa, played college football at BYU and then spent a couple years on the Pittsburgh Steelers roster. Since then he has coached at BYU and Navy, and he spent the 2018 season with the Arizona State Sun Devils. Arizona State was #49 in sacks in 2018 (29) and #36 in tackles for loss (87).
- Sean Spencer (Penn State defensive line coach): Spencer has been Penn State’s defensive line coach for the past five seasons, with previous stops at UMass, Bowling Green, and Vanderbilt, among others. He’s a James Franklin guy and was with him at Vanderbilt. Spencer has a good resume and has coached some quality players at PSU, but he would probably need a significant pay bump to leave the Nittany Lions. Penn State is paying him $700,000 a year and the newly hired offensive coordinator, Josh Gattis, is making $900,000, so there’s not much room between DL coach and coordinator money.
Given the aforementioned pool of candidates, here’s the ideal situation, in my opinion:
If the awkwardness can be overcome, hire Brady Hoke to coach the defensive line. He would be able to recruit Ohio, and the mending of fences there might make up for the black eye of Greg Mattison booking it for OSU. Meanwhile, hire Anthony Campanile to coach Michigan’s safeties, and bump Chris Partridge back to being the Vipers coach. Khaleke Hudson excelled at Viper under Partridge and did not perform as well with Washington as his coach.
The wild card is Devin Bush, Sr., who may or may not be interested in sticking around Ann Arbor now that his son is off to the NFL. If he is interested in coaching, then plug him in with the safeties and still bump Partridge back down to Viper/OLB coach.
Originally posted on January 9, 2019.
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