Michigan Football Loses Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald to NFL

So much for keeping the band together.

While Jim Harbaugh has yet to sign with the Wolverines, Michigan football seemed to have kept most of its assistant coaches in place, except for Shaun Nua, who left for USC this off-season. The corn and blue brought in Mike Elston, the former Wolverines linebacker and Notre Dame defense coach, to replace him, making it look like the staff was complete once again. However, the more things change. . .

On Tuesday night, reports surfaced that defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald was being courted by his former team, the Baltimore Ravens of the NFL, for his vacant position as defensive coordinator. According to multiple reports, including Angelique Chengelis of Detroit News and Chris Balas of The Wolverine, Macdonald’s departure after a year now seems likely, if not certain.

Via Chengelis:

It is expected to be one and ready for Michigan defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who is working on a deal to return to the Baltimore Ravens as defensive coordinator.

The Ravens job opened last Friday when John Harbaugh parted ways with defensive coordinator Wink Martindale after four seasons. Martindale was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2018 after coaching Ravens linebackers from 2012-2017. Macdonald spent seven seasons with the Ravens, including the last three coaching linebackers before taking the job in Michigan.

With Macdonald likely to leave after one season, the question now will be: where is Michigan going? It could elevate a current assistant — the prevailing thought that there would be a replacement, defensive pass game coordinator Steve Clinkscale, who has experience with defensive coordinators at Cincinnati — or the Wolverines could make an outside hire. The latter could potentially signify another large-scale schematic change, which wouldn’t be ideal, as we’ve already seen just that happen in the past year.

Anyway, it’s a dilemma. It’s one thing to lose an assistant who isn’t a coordinator, it’s another to have to recruit a new assistant at that level, especially if they do make an arrangement change. It worked for Michigan after Harbaugh’s freshman year, when DJ Durkin left for the Maryland track and then Don Brown replaced him. But because it’s so late in the cycle, there aren’t many candidates, otherwise the Wolverines are targeting someone like the aforementioned Wink Martindale — even though he’s been out of college for a few decades.

It will be interesting to see what happens from here.


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