It appears Sherrone Moore’s search for Michigan’s new defensive coordinator has come to an end, as multiple reports indicate the Wolverines intend to hire former Giants assistant Don “Wink” Martindale to lead the defensive unit of the program in 2024.
The veteran defensive coordinator comes from the NFL, where he oversaw the Giants’ defense the past two seasons. Before that, Martindale held the same position for four years at the The Baltimore Ravens after spending the previous six seasons as the team’s linebackers coach.
This comes on the heels of a lengthy search by Sherrone Moore to replace Jesse Minter, who spent the last two years with the Wolverines before leaving to join Jim Harbaugh’s staff with the Los Angeles Chargers. Michigan’s defense was among the best in the country last season, leading the FBS with 247 yards allowed and 10.4 points allowed on average en route to a national championship.
It’s no secret that a major point of emphasis during the Wolverines’ defensive coordinator search was based on some familiarity with the same style of defense Michigan has been running in recent years. Martindale is largely credited with being the architect of that plan, with clever adaptations made by Mike Macdonald and Minter.
Macdonald, who was recently hired as Seattle Seahawks‘ head coach, was an assistant under Martindale before leading Michigan’s defense in 2021. Minter was also part of Martindale’s defensive coaching staff for four years in Baltimore.
It’s been a long time since Wink was a defensive coordinator in college, but he has that experience. He served as Western Kentucky’s defensive coordinator when Jack Harbaugh was the Hilltoppers’ head coach from 2000-03.
Martindale’s defenses were among the best in the NFL in his first three years as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens (2018-20). While those Ravens teams never reached the Super Bowl As they did when Martindale coached the linebacker group in 2012, they were always a serious contender.
During his time in New York, the Giants assistant was able to stabilize the defense to a certain extent, but the team still struggled mightily on offense, shifting much of the workload onto the shoulders of the defense to keep them afloat. The two sides mutually agreed to part ways following the conclusion of the regular season after head coach Brian Daboll fired close members of Martindale’s staff.
With this position now filled, attention now turns to finding a new defensive line coach and linebackers coach.