The Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is getting kicked up another notch this offseason with the Buckeyes taking an assistant from the Wolverines. Ohio State announced the hiring of Michigan defensive line coach Greg Mattison as its new co-defensive coordinator. Mattison will serve in the role with former San Francisco 49ers defensive backs coach Jeff Hafley.
"I love the idea of having two coordinators on defense," said Ohio State coach Ryan Day of the hires. "I like having a diversity of opinion, but even more I like the expertise and experience that Jeff has in the secondary coupled with the expertise that Greg brings to the front seven.
"Jeff is a rising star and highly regarded as one of the best secondary coaches in the country. His NFL knowledge coaching the secondary is only going to enhance and improve what has become a marquee area for the Buckeyes. Greg is a terrific coach. His experience as a coordinator and his knowledge of the Big Ten is extremely important to me.
The Buckeyes recently lost co-defensive coordinator Alex Grinch to Oklahoma. Greg Schiano, who served as co-defensive coordinator with Grinch, looks to be headed to the NFL.
Ohio State also announced that defensive line coach Larry Johnson will continue coaching the defensive line, but has also been promoted to associate head coach.
Mattison has ties to former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. The two were on staff together at Notre Dame during the late 1990s, and Meyer brought Mattison to Florida to be his co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach from 2005-07. While Meyer is no longer coaching at Ohio State, you have to think he played a role in bringing Mattison to Columbus, Ohio, to help out with the transition to Ryan Day as head coach.
Considering Mattison celebrated his 69th birthday in November 2018, it's hard to imagine he plans on being Ohio State's defensive coordinator for the next decade.
Mattison had worked at Michigan since 2011. He coordinated the Wolverines' defense for four seasons and was retained by Jim Harbaugh as a defensive line coach when he was hired in 2015. His defensive lines at Michigan were some of the best in the country the last few years, and he'll look to transform an Ohio State unit that has plenty of talent but didn't play up to it for most of the season.
Mattison previously coordinated defenses under Harbaugh's father at Western Michigan from 1985-86, coached Michigan's defensive line from 1992-94 and was the defensive coordinator of the Wolverines from 1995-96.
Schiano had coordinated defenses at Ohio State since 2016 after a three years away from college and the NFL. He was nearly hired to serve as the coach at Tennessee until fan outrage forced the Volunteers to backtrack and change their mind. It was reported last year that Schiano had an opportunity to leave the Buckeyes for the same job under Bill Belichick with the New England Patriots, only for him to turn down that role.
His defense at Ohio State was a let down in 2018. The Buckeyes gave up 49 points in the loss to Purdue on Oct. 20, allowed Maryland to average 8.63 yards per play in the overtime win on Nov. 17 and finished 10th in the Big Ten in total defense at 403.4 yards per game.