The Michigan Wolverines have to replace their defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who is returning to the Baltimore Ravens to replace Don “Wink” Martindale.
After only one year at Michigan, defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald is returning to the Baltimore Ravens to lead their defense.
Macdonald left John Harbaugh’s staff to help out his younger brother’s defense in the Big Ten. Michigan’s defense was a big reason why the Wolverines had their best season under Jim Harbaugh last year. Though Baltimore firing Don “Wink” Martindale was a bit odd, bringing back Macdonald makes a lot of sense here. As to who replaces him in Ann Arbor, that’s a different story.
Here are a few options to replace Macdonald as the leader of the Michigan defense going forward.
Mike Macdonald leaves for Baltimore Ravens: Who replaces him as Michigan DC?
There are three avenues to potentially replace Macdonald in Ann Arbor: Promote a candidate from within, poach a coordinator from somewhere else or venture into the NFL to get a guy, just like Michigan did previously to land Macdonald. It all really comes down to what Harbaugh wants to do, but this is an infinitely better job than it was this time a year ago for the Michigan program.
If Michigan were to promote from within, the Wolverines have two candidates in defensive passing game coordinator/defensive backs coach Steve Clinkscale and new defensive line coach Mike Elston. Harbaugh was able to poach Clinkscale away from Kentucky last offseason and he may be in line for a promotion. Elston is a Michigan alum, but missed out on the Notre Dame gig.
If Michigan were to poach a top coordinator to replace Macdonald, Jon Heacock at Iowa State is the likeliest candidate. Heacock is a former Michigan graduate assistant, but is best known for working alongside Matt Campbell at Iowa State and Toledo before that. Heacock makes sense, but that could muddy the water a bit, as Campbell is a top candidate to replace Harbaugh if he left.
And if Michigan were to go to the NFL, these two names make sense: Ravens defensive line coach/run game coordinator Anthony Weaver and Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside line coach Larry Foote. The Ravens connection with Weaver is obvious. As for Foote, he is a former Michigan star and a Super Bowl champion during his run with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a player for them.
Of the three avenues, promoting from within makes the most sense. Clinkscale was a hot commodity Harbaugh prioritized landing last offseason. As for Elston, him not getting the Notre Dame defensive coordinator job when Marcus Freeman was promoted from within could be Michigan’s gain. Heacock feels like a pipe dream, but maybe is an NFL guy like Foote or Weaver?
Macdonald leaves the Michigan defense in far better shape than he found it only a season ago.