Jedd Fisch is finding creative ways to break Arizona’s assistant coaching hires and now he’s hinting that the Wildcats are hiring Don Brown as their new defensive coordinator:
If you are not a super sleuth, those numbers signify where Brown’s units have ranked in total defense over those seasons. So, in other words…
- 2014 at Boston College: 11th in the country
- 2015 at Boston College: 1st
- 2016 at Michigan: 1st
- 2017 at Michigan: 3rd
- 2018 at Michigan: 2nd
- 2019 at Michigan: 11th
Fisch conveniently omitted that Brown’s 2020 Michigan defense ranked 89th in total defense, which got him fired.
Still, there is no doubt that Brown, 65, brings an impressive track record to the desert and should be an upgrade over the the previous regime.
Brown was hired at the tail end of the 2015 season when DJ Durkin left to take the head coaching job at Maryland. Under Brown, Michigan played an aggressive defense, sometimes to a fault, and sent a number of players to the NFL. However, his tenure was defined by some big-time flops in big games, namely against the Ohio State Buckeyes in both 2018 and 2019.
Despite the big-game struggles, Brown’s defenses were still ranked highly throughout much of his time at Michigan. However, the bottom fell out this season as the unit was gutted by injuries and inconsistencies. It simply was time to make a change.
Don Brown had an extremely polarizing career with the Michigan Football program. If you look purely at the numbers, it may be a puzzling move on the outside looking in. This season was the only one in his tenure where the Wolverines did not finish with a defense ranked in the top-25. This season, they were 96th out of 127 FBS programs. It was the end of an exponential drop off from year one where they were the No. 2 defense in the country back in 2016. Not only that, but fans saw how Michigan’s defense unraveled every week as the book was out on how to pick apart Brown’s defense towards the end of his tenure.
And here is some more info from Brown’s official Michigan bio:
U-M ranked first or second nationally in seven categories in 2016, listed top-three in five categories in 2017, and ranked top-seven nationally in five major defensive categories in 2018. In the span of Brown’s tenure, U-M has the top cumulative national ranks in the following categories: total defense, pass defense, third down defense, opponent completion percentage, sack rate, tackle for loss rate, and three-and-outs forced.
Opposing offenses were forced into three-and-outs at a high rate against Michigan from 2016-18; 33.3 percent of opponents’ drives fail to move the chains. Michigan’s defensive mayhem rate, which measures the percentage of plays ending in a sack, tackle for loss, or turnover, is 15.8 percent, which led the nation over the same span.
In 2019, Michigan’s high-end pass defense continued, with the team finishing top-25 in third down conversion defense (.324, 20th) and pass defense (185.5 yards allowed per game, 10th) among eight total categories.