You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 6:19 p.m.

Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison a finalist for national assistant of the year award

By Kyle Meinke

With the regular season in the books, awards season is right around the corner.

Greg Mattison will be a heavy contender. In fact, he already is.

The Michigan football team's defensive coordinator was named on Monday one of five finalists for the Broyles Award, which honors the country's top assistant.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Mattison_Greg_2011.jpg

Greg Mattison

The other finalists are LSU defensive coordinator John Charvis, Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst, Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee and Alabama linebackers/assistant head coach Sal Sunseri. The winner will be named at 11:30 a.m. Dec. 6.

That's a list of heavy-hitters, and Mattison has earned his place among them.

He led the Wolverines to a defensive renaissance this year, with his 4-3 scheme and emphasis on fundamentals setting the tone for a group that finished the regular season ninth in scoring defense. It allowed 17.2 points per game.

The Wolverines allowed 35.2 points per game last year, tied for 107th in the country. That's an improvement of 18 points per game and 98 spots in the rankings, with largely the same players as they had last year under former defensive coordinator Greg Robinson.

Mattison addressed the defense's improvement last week.

"This defense, it’ll go down — you’ll probably remember this defense more than any other defense because of how they have bought in," he said, referring to both scheme and philosophy changes. "I’ve said it all along, these kids come out everyday and every meeting to get better, and everything you talk to them about and every drill they do, they try to get better.

"They’ve done it all year, and I’m happy for them that they’re having some success because it shows that it’s worth what they’re doing.”

Michigan allowed more than 24 points only twice this season. It showed considerable improvement in most major statistical categories, including rising to the top of the Big Ten in rush defense during league play.

Mattison said the key to that improvement, more than anything, was better tackling, and better tackling is a function of greater effort.

"I think if you watch any defense and you see one person trying to make a tackle, you’ll see a team that’s not a very good tackling team," he said. "But if you see a lot of people around that football, then you see teams that do well tackling.

"The big thing is, it closes the space. It closes the opportunity for a running back to cut. And that comes down to effort."

Mattison, originally from Madison, Wis., is in his 34th year as a college football assistant. He also spent the past three years with the NFL's Baltimore Ravens.

He has said the only reason he came back to college was because his best friend, Brady Hoke, was named head coach at Michigan, which is near where his daughter lives and a place with which he fell in love during a previous coaching stint.

Mattison was an assistant for the Wolverines from 1992-96.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.



Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

I can't think of a better coach to win this award! He turned our defense around in not a lot of time. It's hard to believe it's basically the same defense we had last year. Congrats to Mattison! Go Blue!!!


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 11:14 a.m.

As Michigan fans we are blessed to have such a great coaching staff in Ann Arbor. The success achieved on field is a tribute to the hard work and dedication this coaching staff has displayed. I for one, greedily admit I would like this staff to remain intact for many, many years to come. I will enjoy this coaching staff so long as it is held together and the further development of the young men that will continue to represent the University of Michigan football program. As an aside, big "EL o EL" @ Urban Meyer for claiming Mattision as one of his coaches, I believe Mister Mattison was on quite a few staffs before he went to work for Urban Meyer. Movement in coaching is the nature of the game and it's why I will enjoy the current staff while together. As an additional aside, all of this and ten wins with Stonum doing the honorable thing and fulfilling his obligation to the team while serving a suspension. Do not forget what Mister Stonum brings to the return game and his value of field position not to mention his receiving abilities. The future is very bright for Michigan football fans. In closing, accolades justly deserved Mister Mattison, thank you for your contributions to Michigan football.


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 7:14 a.m.

If not Mattison then who? He faces a tough job next year with Van Bergen Martin. and Heiniger all graduating. I hope there are some red shirts pumping up for next year. Other than Campbell- on a few plays- I don't remember any other lineman making a tackle.


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 4:05 a.m.

Deservedly so Mattison, deservedly so.

Terry Star21

Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 12:45 a.m.

Very deservingly. What a difference, at least three additional wins and over 100 places better on national rankings. Also, according to last years coach, Mattison is far better than Vince Lombardi ! (sorry folks, couldn't help myself). MgoBlueForTim.......Mattison the man, the teacher, the coach - the Champion.

Huron 74

Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 12:42 a.m.

The biggest and best change in the Blue this year. Denard's still crankin, a lot of other players have picked up the ball but our defense.. this has got to be one of the biggest improvements, nationwide, in college football this year!


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 12:38 a.m.

I can't speak for what those other finalists for this award have done this season, but based on the complete 180 this defense has done under Mattison, I would have to believe that he has earned it over all of them. In one year, ONE YEAR, he has Michigan playing Michigan defense again. Incredible job, absolutely incredible. Good luck to him with this award, and even if he doesn't win, I would take him over any of those other coaches and he's done a great job that he is, and should be, proud of.


Tue, Nov 29, 2011 : 12:10 a.m.

"Defensive renaissance" is right -- like Michigan Football. Watching our D line up in perfect formation was a joy to behold this year & emphasis on those fundamentals certainly paid off. We had defensive scores in how many games? I lost count, can someone remind me?! I'm so happy Hoke & Mattison get to work together in Ann Arbor with our Wolverines...we all reap the rewards. What a season! M Go Blue!


Mon, Nov 28, 2011 : 11:47 p.m.

Congrats to Mattison, he has done a great job this year. Money well spent.