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Reports: Michigan hiring Don ‘Wink’ Martindale as next defensive coordinator

The Wolverines have found their replacement for Jesse Minter.

NFL: International Series-New York Giants Practice Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Hartwell Matt covers all things Michigan football related for Maize n Brew and runs the social media accounts.

It appears Sherrone Moore’s search for Michigan’s newest defensive coordinator has come to an end, as multiple reports indicate the Wolverines intend to hire former Giants assistant Don “Wink” Martindale to helm the program’s defensive unit in 2024.

The veteran defensive coordinator hails from the NFL, where he oversaw the Giants’ defense the past two seasons. Before that, Martindale held the same position for four years with the Baltimore Ravens after spending the previous six seasons as the team’s linebackers coach.

This comes on the heels of a long search by Sherrone Moore to replace Jesse Minter, who spent the last two years with the Wolverines before departing to join Jim Harbaugh’s staff with the Los Angeles Chargers. Michigan’s defense was among the best in the nation this past season, leading the FBS with 247 yards allowed and 10.4 points allowed on average en route to a national championship.

It’s no secret a major point of emphasis during the Wolverines’ defensive coordinator search rested on a certain familiarity with the same style of defense Michigan has been running the last few years. Martindale is largely credited as the architect of that scheme — with clever adaptations made by Mike Macdonald and Minter

Macdonald, who was recently hired as the Seattle Seahawks’ head coach, was an assistant under Martindale before running Michigan’s defense in 2021. Minter was also a part of Martindale’s defensive coaching staff for four years in Baltimore.

It’s been a long while since Wink was a defensive coordinator in college, but he does have that experience. He served as the defensive coordinator for Western Kentucky when Jack Harbaugh was the head coach of the Hilltoppers from 2000-03.

Martindale’s defenses were among the best in the NFL his first three years as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens (2018-20). While those Ravens teams never reached the Super Bowl as they did when Martindale coached the linebacker group in 2012, they were always a serious contender.

During his time in New York, the Giants’ assistant was able to stabilize the defense to some degree, but the team still struggled mightily on offense, shifting much of the workload onto the shoulders of the defense to keep them afloat. The two parties mutually agreed to part ways following the conclusion of the regular season after head coach Brian Daboll fired close members of Martindale’s staff.

With this position now filled, attention now shifts to finding a new defensive line coach and linebackers coach.