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Posted on Sun, Feb 27, 2011 : 5:55 a.m.

Greg Mattison's contract with Michigan football team, Jim Harbaugh talks at NFL Combine and Steven Threet walks away

By Pete Bigelow

On the day he fired Rich Rodriguez, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon worked quickly to change the perception that his department paid its head coaches, shall we say, frugally.

“We have traditionally kind of been in the middle of the pack,” he said. “That’s kind of been our tradition, and I don’t necessarily believe that that’s been appropriate.”

At the time, it was thought Brandon’s statement was a signal, perhaps to Jim Harbaugh or others, the Wolverines would pay top dollar for their services. In retrospect, the statement was even more sweeping.

That became apparent earlier this week when the Associated Press reported that new Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison will receive a base salary of $750,000 with incentives that could push his annual compensation to $900,000.

This isn’t your father’s Michigan athletic department, in which the Wolverines expected to attract top candidates on reputation alone. The deal for Mattison, the former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator, ranks among the most lucrative for assistant coaches in the nation.

By comparison, Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will make $795,000 in 2011, $865.000 in 2012 and 2013, according to USA Today.

Michigan has yet to release financial figures on Brady Hoke’s head-coaching contract, but Mattison’s deal shows that Brandon is backing up the ambition outlined in early January.

And if Mattison can fix the defensive mess he inherits, he’ll be worth every penny.


The Stanford coach-turned-49ers savior attended the NFL Combine this week in Indianapolis and revisited his high-profile job search.

Harbaugh told the Detroit Free Press that he spoke with Brandon about the then-vacant Michigan coaching job, but declined to say whether the Wolverines officially offered him the position.

“I’m not going into anything like that,” he told the Freep.

Which brings up a lingering question: Was an official offer ever extended to Harbaugh? Was a serious offer ever made by Michigan? Or was Hoke the first choice all along?

Since neither Brandon nor Harbaugh are saying, there may never be answers. But they’re intriguing questions.


Former Michigan quarterback Steven Threet is accustomed to making tough decisions about his football future.

He spent his freshman season at Georgia Tech, sat out a year to transfer to Michigan, played a single season for the Wolverines, transferred again to Arizona State, where he won a three-way competition to be the Sun Devil's starting QB.

He flourished in that one season, completing 61.9 percent of his passes for 2,534 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior last season.

But last week he made the toughest choice of all, and walked away from the team.

Threet suffered two concussions last season and still suffers medical symptoms -- so much so that he had not yet been cleared for spring practices.

“I saw a lot of doctors and tried out some medications to see what they could do with certain symptoms,” Threet told The Arizona Republic. “It just got to the point where I had to make a decision.”

You can’t go three weeks -- heck, three days -- anymore without finding more former football players suffering long-term consequences of concussions, of playing the game.

Former Bears safety Dave Duerson implored doctors to study his brain before committing suicide last week, and GQ profiled former Vikings linebacker Fred McNeill, whose life has been destroyed by post-concussion health problems.

In Threet’s case, he may have traded one year of football for a lifetime of better health -- or at least less-severe concussion complications.

It may be tough to walk away now, but in one year, three years, five years, his decision will look smarter and smarter.

Pete Bigelow covers the Michigan football team for He can be reached at 734-623-2551, via email at and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.



Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 11:44 p.m.

Talk about over paying for a Coach.You guys have alot of Faith in your Pizza Man AD.I heard he was on the verge of getting fired as the Ravens DC.Coached in the worst Division in the NFL.Pitts,Balt,Bengals,Browns.Come on Man.Good Luck.Glad you guys got alot of money,because you lack in football sense.I guess he's going to make some tackles.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 11:24 p.m.

1. I'm still doubtful about the idea that anyone (anyone!) should be paid a lifetime income in one year, let alone year after year. OTH: I can't fault Michigan or any other university trapped in the ungodly wage spiral for having to play the same universal tune, follow the same "strategy." 2. Jim Harbaugh is a good example of the above: he's reached celebrity millionaire status based on a good record in his job category. I have to laugh though because I overheard a local grocery store manager telling a teenage bagger, "I know lots of people who would love that (your) job." Yeah - pushing shopping carts through ankle-deep snow in windchill around zero ยบ Fahrenheit is the dream of every high school youth (for $7.50 an hour, they could earn what Mattison makes annually in just 50 years). 3. Dealing out concussion injuries which lead to severe impairment and early deaths: should be drawing felony convictions for the perpetrators. Deadly assault is not part of any game. If done on the street, that's assault with intent to do great bodily harm. I am sorry though that this kind of intentionally inflicted injury led to Mr. Threet's abandonment of his chosen career.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 2:23 a.m.

Cheers to Steven Threet. He's made a very brave and very smart choice. I hope other football players in similar situations will follow his example.

1st Down

Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 12:02 a.m.

Under the previous HC, our defense had fallen in to such a pit of quicksand.... we needed a messiah of sorts to come in and straighten it out. To get those types, you need to pay for them. With Mattison's history at Michigan, his family ties to AA, his NC ring with Florida and his NFL experience as the DC of one of the top units in the NFL the past couple of years....he comes as close to a "messiah" as there is out there at this time... and as one of the largest revenue producing Athletic dept's in the country, one which is self-funded....we can afford to pay this man to come in and straighten out RR's mess/garbage. Regarding Threet... seems like a great kid...he is making a wise choice. Tate Forcier also has had several concussions recently and one wonders how he will hold up at Miami. Once the concussions start, they happen more frequently going forward. Football is a collision sport. Regarding Harbaugh...Hoke etc. Who cares? We have a great coach now, one who surrounds himself with excellent assistants, is a great recruiter, excellent coach and person and has a passion for the University of Michigan. We hired the right guy. Brandon said right up front that Harbs was probably going to the NFL and he was right... Harbs probably told him that he was leaning that way straight out.... and that's cool...he will do well there and Im looking forward to seeing him develop the 49ers.....but we hired a great coach and person in Hoke. This is Michigan. Go Blue.


Sun, Feb 27, 2011 : 11:31 p.m.

All this would go away if we were to just re-hire Our King. Do the right thing, DB.


Mon, Feb 28, 2011 : 12:43 a.m.

That's right! Bring back RR! He'll do the following: a) Fire Mattison ... who needs a defense? b) Get rid of anyone on the team over 5'6" and 160 pounds. c) Hope to score 100+ points per game ... he'll need every point d) Use a supercomputer to generate excuses for his failures e) Argue that 5-7 is a sure sign of the turnaround "right around the corner" f) Will argue "e" until 2020 or later g) Will complain about empty seats in the Big House when teams consistently rank bottom of Big 10 h) Will continue to recruit small players on theory they're "fast" i) Will listen to some on this site about "Crystal" j) Will watch as SEC teams with speed *and* size win actual "Crystal" k) Will complain about SEC teams winning with *hit* spread l) SEC teams will say repeatedly they run spread as well as *other* offensive sets m) SEC teams will say they also believe in defense n) SEC teams will laugh at notion of playing Michigan o) A Billboard will be place with Miss. State D player quote: "This was easy -- we knew *exactly* what they were going to do p) Denard Robinson put into hospital with injuries because RR runs him every play, every down, every game q) Dave Brandon fires OC since any brain-dead banana-eating monkey can call "Robinson run" on every play r) The sound of crickets chirping in Michigan Stadium a first since ... ever s) Michigan drops below Northwestern in all-time Big 10 wins t) The ghost of Bob Ufer comes back and smacks RR upside the head u) So too do the ghosts of Yost, Kipke, Crisler, Oosterbaan and Schembechler v) Theo, red-faced, leaves town w) Sobbing, RR plays "You Light Up My Life" on his boom box as defense against OSU x) OSU thumps Michigan regardless, 212-0 y) RR finally fired as HC z) Michigan disbands men's football after 10-400 RR record


Sun, Feb 27, 2011 : 10:22 p.m.

Michigan paying coaches = ticket increase

Stephen Landes

Sun, Feb 27, 2011 : 8:36 p.m.

RE: Jim Harbaugh Think about this: when you are hiring someone do you usually line up interviews in order of a predetermined preference and then offer the job to each person in sequence until you get a "taker"? Do you really think that is how Dave Brandon would have handled the hiring of our new football coach? If you answer yes to those questions then I hope I never work for you!


Sun, Feb 27, 2011 : 6:15 p.m.

Threet didn't exactly "thrive" at ASU; he was being pushed for his job by a sophomore. But he did make the right decision to quit. I'm glad ASU is doing the right thing for him as far as his scholly and being part of the program goes. Maybe he'll be a coach someday, but I don't know how great he will be at teaching throwing mechanics, especially if some of his players watch film of his release.


Sun, Feb 27, 2011 : 12:37 p.m.

I'm sure it's an honest mistake...but Arizona State is the Sun Devils obviously, and not the Wildcats. This is Like saying Threet won a three way QB battle for the Michigan State Wolverines. You wouldn't dare. Come on now.


Sun, Feb 27, 2011 : 5:12 p.m.

I live in Tucson now. You'd be surprised how often that kind of mistake occurs even here. Arizona is not like Michigan (where I grew up) -- there, as Ufer used to say, "Football is a religion and Saturday is the holy day of obligation." Such is simply not the case here. There are home football Saturdays here where I don't even realize there is a home game. Football is just *not* as big a thing in Arizona as football is in the midwest.


Sun, Feb 27, 2011 : 4:32 p.m.

I'm looking forward to September when Michigan plays the Notre Dame Fightin' Boilerhoosiers and in November when Michigan plays the Ohio State Golden-Red Falc-awk Bob/bearcat buck-eagle-rockets-eyes. Go Blue!

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Feb 27, 2011 : 1:34 p.m.

As an "old fart" I remember when Lute Olson left Iowa to coach the Wildcats. What old fart can forget the origin/popularization of the term "Michigan Man", Bill Frieder leaving the Spartverines to become a Sun Devil. And how about that 1987 Rose Bowl when the Sun Devils overcame a 15-3 deficit to beat the Wolvartens 22-15 if memory serves me

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Feb 27, 2011 : 1:03 p.m.

Good catch Tom. As a former ASU student (my pop taught there for 20 years) being dubbed a "Wildcat" is insulting.