Longtime Michigan assistant Greg Mattison has left the program to take the co-defensive coordinator role at Ohio State. The search for his replacement begins in earnest.
This list begins and ends with former Carolina Panthers assistant Brady Hoke, right?
If you’ve decided to not immediately close your browser, here are some potential replacements for Mattison.
Al Washington, Michigan rush linebackers coach
This pick makes sense for two reasons. One, Washington assisted Mattison this past season with the defensive ends and rush linebackers.
He helped develop Josh Uche into a menace off the edge, as the junior racked up seven sacks in limited snaps in 2018. He also tutored Kwity Paye, who chipped in two takedowns of his own.
The bigger reason is his familiarity with Don Brown. Washington was on the Boston College staff with Brown from 2013-15. The year after Brown left, Washington coach defensive line for the nation’s No. 7 rush defense in 2016.
The combination of stability and experience bodes well for a mini-promotion.
Ben Albert, Duke co-defensive coordinator
Albert coached Brown’s defensive lines at BC, helping form the front wall for the nation’s top-ranked defense in yards allowed in 2015.
While much praise was given for Brown’s exotic schemes in Chestnut Hill, he needed players like All-American end Harold Landry, whom Albert mentored.
While his defense in Durham faltered this past season, the year before it helped lift the Blue Devils to a winning record. It proved to be one of the ACC’s best, ranking among the league’s leaders in opponent pass completion percentage (No. 2), scoring defense (No. 3) and total defense (No. 4).
Joe Cullen, Baltimore Ravens defensive line coach
This isn’t just a Harbaugh connection, though that does factor.
When Michigan needed a defensive coordinator in 2011, Brady Hoke called John Harbaugh for permission to talk to...Greg Mattison, who was the co-defensive coordinator in Baltimore. Could history repeat itself with Cullen, a longtime NFL assistant with stints Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Jacksonville and Detroit?
The other relevant piece is that Cullen’s alma mater is UMass, another New England connection that Brown could try to exploit.
If Harbaugh and Brown are able to flex their vast network here, they would be getting an excellent hire. His Ravens front allowed just 89 yards a game on the ground, fourth-best in the league. It also produced 43 sacks, which ranked just outside the top-10.
He also currently works with two former Wolverine linemen in Chris Wormley and Willie Henry, who anchored excellent Michigan lines in 2015 and 2016.
The connections are vast here, and Cullen has the results to back up a move (assuming there’s a pay bump).