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Arizona officially announces hiring of Don Brown as defensive coordinator

Brown spent five seasons at the helm of Michigan’s defense.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Illinois Michael Allio-USA TODAY Sports

Former Michigan Wolverines defensive coordinator Don Brown has officially landed in a new spot with the University of Arizona announcing his hiring on Thursday. He joins a staff that is being put together by former Michigan assistant Jedd Fisch, who was hired as the new head coach last month.

There had been rumors of Brown’s addition for a while, but it was officially confirmed in the release by Arizona. Michigan has yet to publicly acknowledge the parting of ways other than removing him from the staff page on the athletic department website. Brown was fired as Michigan’s defensive coordinator last month and was set to make $1.7 million in Ann Arbor in 2021.

“Today is a huge day for Arizona Football as we have the opportunity to welcome Dr. Blitz to our football program,” Fisch said in a statement. “Don Brown has coordinated the most elite defenses in all of college football, year in and year out, and today Wildcat Nation, we get to introduce him to you as our new defensive coordinator. I have known Don since 2016 when we worked together but have respected and admired him as a coach for many years prior. He is incredibly passionate and a phenomenal teacher. He brings an energy and enthusiasm to play an attacking style of defense, one in which all former and current players, football alumni and our fan base will be proud of and genuinely excited to watch on Saturdays in the Fall. The Wildcat Football Family is so excited to welcome Don and Deb Brown to Tucson. Bear Down and Go Cats!”

Brown was quoted in the statement, as well. No reference was made to Michigan or his former boss in head coach Jim Harbaugh.

“I am honored to be a part of Coach Fisch’s staff at the University of Arizona,” Brown said. “I promise to work tirelessly to make our defense into something that our players, alumni and fans can be proud of. My focus will also be to develop our student-athletes so they can play at an elite level and achieve success, which requires dedication, a tremendous work ethic and building great relationships. I can’t wait to get to Tucson and be a part of the program Coach Fisch is building.”

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 that was highly-ranked nationally in his first four years 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.

The bottom fell out this season as the unit was gutted by injuries and inconsistencies. It was clear that Michigan needed to make a change and did in what has been the only splash move of the offseason for the program to this point.

Michigan has yet to secure his replacement while Harbaugh’s future itself is sorted out. One of the top candidates, former Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason, will be joining Auburn as its defensive coordinator. The search continues for the Wolverines.