MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Don Brown is set to become one of the wealthiest defensive coordinators in college football.
Fox Sports reported Saturday that Brown, who just completed his first season as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, will receive a raise that will pay him nearly $1.4 million a year for the next five years. Brown currently makes $900,000 a year as part of his original three-year contract with Michigan.
For Michigan, keeping Brown — and compensating Brown — is simply a matter of making a continued, expanded investment in its defensive coordinator. Even after only one year.
Brown’s defense has been stellar — and consistent — in his first season in Ann Arbor, and the original intention of Michigan’s hire of Brown was to make the Michigan defense the best in the nation. At Boston College in 2015, Brown had the nation’s top-ranked defense (254.3 yards) despite a 3-9 finish for the Eagles.
Don Brown’s defense at Michigan
|Total defense||261.8 yards||2nd|
This season, Michigan is also tied with Clemson for third in the nation in sacks (46).
Brown’s defense also has its individual standouts, including one of the nation’s leading pass defenders in cornerback Channing Stribling (eighth, with 17, including 13 pass breakups), and Michigan’s 11 starters on defense received some form of either Big Ten Conference post-season recognition or All-American recognition.
Michigan, however, will have to replace its losses on defense, including senior linebacker Ben Gedeon, senior defensive linemen Taco Charlton, Chris Wormley, Ryan Glasgow and Matt Godin, and Stribling and All-American cornerback Jourdan Lewis. There’s also the possibility of losing linebacker and redshirt sophomore Jabrill Peppers to the NFL.
That’s a lot.
“I’m looking around and going, ‘that guy’s going to be gone, that guy’s going to be gone, that guy’s going to be gone,’ ” Brown told reporters Wednesday, two days before the Orange Bowl. “I’m not looking around at it as ‘oh, what’s going to happen to us, woe is me.’ It’s ‘boy, what an opportunity you’ve had to coach some really unbelievable players.’ ”
In a program that emphasizes player development, Brown’s presence will be key in crafting next year’s defenders, including No.-1-ranked recruit Rashan Gary, who will be a sophomore next year.
In Friday’s 33-32 loss to Florida State in the Orange Bowl at Hard Rock Stadium, Michigan’s defense couldn’t contain Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook, who had 145 yards rushing and a touchdown on 20 carries, but its defense held the rest of the Seminoles to 4 yards rushing and FSU quarterback Deondre Francois to 222 yards. Francois entered the Orange Bowl averaging 260.7 yards passing.
Brown has been mentioned as a candidate for FBS openings, including a recent opening at Connecticut. Detroit Lions assistant Randy Edsall, instead, will rejoin the Huskies for a second tenure.
At Michigan, Jim Harbaugh will not only find talent on the field, but he also will keep it on his staff. And he will pay for talent.
Harbaugh, in his contract, has a budget of between $4 million and $5 million a year to pay his assistant coaches, with 10 percent increases in Harbaugh’s third season at Michigan, which begins Jan. 11, 2017, and in his fifth season, which begins Jan. 11, 2019. Brown’s pay raise should fit into that budget.