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Michigan hires Don Brown to replace D.J. Durkin

December 21st, 2015 by Justin Potts


Don Brown

While most expected Syracuse’s Scott Shafer, Stanford’s Lance Anderson, or Colorado’s Jim Leavitt to be Michigan’s next defensive coordinator after D.J. Durkin’s departure for the Maryland head coaching job, Jim Harbaugh went a different route by hiring Boston College defensive coordinator Don Brown. It was leaked via social media on Sunday night and officially announced by the school on Monday afternoon.

“We are very pleased and happy to announce that our top candidate and number one choice, Don Brown has accepted our offer to become defensive coordinator,” said Harbaugh in the statement released on MGoBlue.com. “After a very thorough search and talking with those I respect the most in this game, including Jack Harbaugh, John Harbaugh, Bill Belichick, Bob Sutton, Vic Fangio and others, it led me to Don Brown. Everything he has touched has turned to gold. Just look at his track record as a head coach, defensive coordinator and even as a baseball coach. We are beyond excited to welcome this high character, high achieving individual to our program and university. Teaching and player development are synonymous with coaching and Don Brown epitomizes those qualities.”

Brown seemingly came out of nowhere — at least publicly — but has a track record that should make Michigan fans salivate. This season, he led the nation’s top defense, which allowed just 254.3 yards per game. Michigan’s was fourth, allowing 281.3. The Eagles ranked second nationally against the run (82.8 yards per game), eighth against the pass (171.5), ninth in pass efficiency defense (104.66), fourth in scoring defense (15.4 points per game), first in third down defense (24.1 percent), and 10th in red zone defense (73.3 percent).

This season, Brown’s defense held Notre Dame to a season low 19 points, 15.8 below their season average, and Florida State to their second lowest point total of the season (14 points), just one more than Clemson allowed. It also held Florida State running back Dalvin Cook — who finished seventh in the Heisman Trophy vote — to a season low 54 yards on 15 carries, one of only three games he was held below 100 yards all season, and the only game he was held out of the end zone. For those efforts, Brown was named the assistant coach of the year by the American Football Coaches Association.

Brown spent three seasons as BC’s defensive coordinator, turning around a team that ranked 92nd nationally in total defense in his first season at the school (2013) to 11th last season and first this season. Prior to Boston College, Brown was defensive coordinator at UConn from 2011-2012 and Maryland from 2009-2010. He spent the first nine seasons of the new century as a head coach, first at Northeastern (2000-2003) and then at UMass (2004-2008).

He was considered by some a candidate for the head coaching job at Maryland before the Terps hired Durkin away from Harbaugh. Instead of sitting still, Harbaugh went out and hired the one man who had a better defense than Durkin this season. It has been considered a home run hire by analysts and recruits alike.


Boston College went just 3-9 this season, through no fault of Brown. The Eagles had the nation’s third-worst offense, averaging just 275.6 yards and 17.2 points per game. That, perhaps, makes the job Brown did with the BC defense even more impressive. With no bowl game to coach, Brown can prepare for the move to Ann Arbor through the holidays and will begin his Michigan role after the bowl season.