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So much for keeping the band together.
While Jim Harbaugh has yet to re-sign with the Wolverines, it appeared that Michigan football was keeping the bulk of its assistant coaches in place, save for Shaun Nua, who left for USC this offseason. The maize and blue brought in Mike Elston, the former Wolverines linebacker and Notre Dame defensive line coach, in to replace him, making it look as if the staff was, again, complete. However, the more things change. . .
On Tuesday night, reports started surfacing that defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald was being courted by his former team, the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, for its vacant defensive coordinator position. According to multiple reports, including the Detroit News’ Angelique Chengelis and The Wolverine’s Chris Balas, Macdonald’s departure after one year now appears likely, if not certain.
It’s expected to be one and done 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 Michigan job.
With Macdonald likely departing after one season, the question now will be: where does Michigan go next? It could elevate a current assistant — the prevailing thought as to a replacement there would be defensive pass game coordinator Steve Clinkscale, who has defensive coordinator experience with Cincinnati — or the Wolverines could make an outside hire. The latter could potentially mean another wholesale schematic change, which wouldn’t be ideal, given that we’ve already seen exactly that happen within the last year.
Regardless, it’s a quandary. It’s one thing to lose an assistant who is not a coordinator, it’s another to have to bring in a new assistant at that level, especially if they do institute a scheme change. It worked out for Michigan after Harbaugh’s first year, when DJ Durkin left for the Maryland job and Don Brown subsequently replaced him. But with it being this late in the cycle, there aren’t a wealth of candidates, lest the Wolverines target someone like the aforementioned Wink Martindale — though he hasn’t been in college for a few decades now.
It will be interesting to see what happens from here.