The Wolverine

February 2021

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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22 THE WOLVERINE FEBRUARY 2021 BY JOHN BORTON J im Harbaugh huddled up with Michigan director of athletics Warde Manuel, declared his intention to stay put and im- mediately began calling audibles. The seventh-year U-M head coach signaled in a new tandem of defen- sive coordinators, brought home for- mer Wolverines Mike Hart and Ron Bellamy, and rounded out a staff he expects will take Michigan to the next level. That's the challenge for a rede- signed staff, shaken up following a stumble to a 2-4 record in a COVID- truncated season. Harbaugh has posted three 10-win seasons in his first six years, but no Big Ten titles, zero wins over Ohio State and a .500 record against Michigan State. That's not good enough, histori- cally, for a U-M program that has won more games than anyone else in college football. Michigan hasn't se- cured a Big Ten championship since 2004 and appeared far away from that dream in the last two games against the Buckeyes. Those contests and this year's ma- jor defensive struggles led to the de- parture of five-year defensive coordi- nator Don Brown. In his place, a pair of young, hungry coaches will share the coordinator's duties. Mike Macdonald moves from one Harbaugh staff to another. He spent the past seven seasons in the NFL, the last three of them coaching line- backers with the Baltimore Ravens and head coach John Harbaugh. Maurice "Mo" Linguist heads north from the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, where he coached defensive backs for a year after two years mentoring cornerbacks at Texas A&M. Hart obviously needs no intro- duction to Michigan fans. He set the modern-era U-M rushing record with 5,040 yards from 2004-07, never lost to Michigan State and played with an edge the Wolverines will look to rekindle following last year's struggles. He then spent the past four years guiding Indiana's runners, and will now shift to coaching Michigan's running backs. Hart's return set other dominos in motion. Former running backs coach Jay Harbaugh moves back to handle tight ends, while retaining his spe- cial teams coordinator role. Former tight ends coach Sherrone Moore will coach the entire offensive line, as well as taking on co-offensive co- ordinator duties. Meanwhile Bellamy, the former U-M wideout, achieved great suc- cess at nearby West Bloomfield High School as a head coach. He'll bolster Michigan's coaching and recruiting, like many of the newcomers are ex- pected to do. George Helow, Maryland's inside linebackers coach and special teams director, is coming to take on the job of coaching Michigan safeties. So the makeover, as of Jan. 26, centered mostly on the defensive side of the football. There are plenty of questions, but Harbaugh is counting on having found the right answers. DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE MACDONALD The 33-year-old Macdonald has not previously coordinated a defense, but delivered extensive input into some high-level ones. He coached on two AFC North championship squads, and teams that ranked among the top 10 scoring defenses in the NFL six of the past seven seasons. The Ravens paced the league in yards allowed and were second in points given up in 2018. In 2019, the franchise allowed the third-fewest points and fourth-few- est yards in the league, while this past fall saw the club place among the top 10 in both categories again (seventh in total defense, second in points allowed). Macdonald coached Baltimore's secondary before guiding its lineback- ers the past three years, like he'll do at Michigan. His crews led the NFL in interceptions in 2017 (22) and 2016 (18). In 2017, the Ravens topped the league in turnovers produced (34). "Mike is an excellent defensive mind who is highly respected across the NFL," Harbaugh said in a released statement. "He has been a valuable member of the Baltimore Ravens staff, and shown a passion for teaching, coaching and developing his players. We are excited about everything that Mike brings to our defense, team and university, and look forward to wel- coming him and his fiancé Stephanie to our Michigan football family." Macdonald shared his excitement in a statement of his own: "It is an honor to join Coach Harbaugh's staff at the University of Michigan. I firmly believe in his vision and am excited to get to work. Our staff will work tirelessly to develop our young men both on and off the field. I cannot wait to meet and develop relationships with our players, staff and community! Stephanie and I are excited to join the Michigan family, and we are very thankful for this op- portunity — Go Blue!" Macdonald worked at the Univer- sity of Georgia (2011-13), his alma EXTREME MAKEOVER New Defensive Coordinators, Homecomings Headline Hires New defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald spent the past seven years coaching the secondary and linebackers for the Baltimore Ravens, who boasted a top-10 scoring defense in six of those seasons. PHOTO COURTESY BALTIMORE RAVENS Michigan football sideline reporter and Detroit-area sports talk host Doug Karsch on new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald "This is a guy that is an up-and-comer, this is a guy that can absolutely get it done. Nobody would know better than [Balti- more Ravens head coach] John Harbaugh. It wouldn't happen without John Harbaugh's recommendation."

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