While it would appear that Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh will be back with the Wolverines in 2021, the same cannot be said for his defensive coordinator Don Brown. Bruce Feldman of The Athletic reported on Tuesday that Brown has been fired following his fifth season with the program.
The move is not unexpected as Michigan's defense has slowly gone in the wrong direction under Brown's leadership. In his first season as Michigan's DC in 2016, the Wolverines finished with the FBS' second-best defense in yards per play and points per game allowed. In each successive year, however, Brown's defenses became progressively worse. Though Michigan's defenses were still top-25 caliber for most of Brown's tenure, the 2020 Wolverines were particularly porous and hurt by inexperience.
Don Brown's defenses at Michigan the past five years in national ranking (yards per play allowed): second (2016); sixth (2017); eighth (2018); 10th (2019) and 56th (this year).— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) December 22, 2020
Brown came to Michigan from Boston College following the 2015 season, where he was highly regarded as one of college football's top defensive minds. Though Brown was initially considered one of the top assistants in the nation, he became criticized over the years for being unable to adjust in-game.
In particular, Brown's defensive schemes were criticized for poor performances against rival Ohio State. In their last four meetings, the Buckeyes scored at least 30 points, including more than 50 and 60 points, respectively, in the last two meetings.