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 Wed, Mar 9, 2011 : 5:05 p.m.

Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison returns to teaching mode with Wolverines

By Jeff Arnold

Greg Mattison has no interest in dredging up past defensive disappointments.

While the first-year defensive coordinator with the Michigan football team is aware of how the Wolverines ranked 108th nationally in total yardage, he won't watch game film to review exactly what went wrong.

Instead, Mattison, who spent the past three years as the Baltimore Ravens' defensive coordinator, will build for the future, using NFL film examples to illustrate how the Wolverines can successfully run their scheme this weekend.

It's a strategy that Michigan defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery believes can work wonders.

"What they're asking is, 'How can I be more like (NFL players),'" Montgomery said Wednesday. "I think that's what is neat about putting those cut-ups on is that is where they want to get. So you've really got their attention when you put that film on."

Moving impressionable defensive players in that direction is where Mattison enters the equation. The long-time assistant has coached almost exclusively at the college level, where he worked for more than 30 years.

He worked four years at Michigan before moving on to Notre Dame and Florida before joining the Ravens in 2008.

While the job in Baltimore put Mattison into constant contact with top-level talent, Mattison missed teaching. So when Michigan coach Brady Hoke called offering him a spot on his staff earlier this winter, a return to Michigan made sense.

"It's different than the NFL - the players you have are the players you have," Mattison said Wednesday. "The positive thing is that you have the ability to take a young freshman and say, 'OK, here is where you are now and if you do what we're saying to do, you're going to get to here.'

"With a guy like Ray Lewis, you say, 'OK, take better steps right here - you've been an All-Pro for 15 years - and he may look at you, like 'Whoa, what are you talking about?'"

With Mattison, the Wolverines get the best of both worlds. Players will work under a coordinator who ran one of the NFL's top defensive units, but one who returned to Michigan because he missed working with kids.

"Coaching the technique and the fundamentals at any level is coaching the technique and the fundamentals," Hoke said on Wednesday. "But the impact you get to have on the young guy who is a freshman in the program and building him and getting him to a point where you see the progression he takes and the improvement they make, that's a big part of it."

That's part of the reason Mattison said he never wanted to be a head coach. Outside of a high school job in Wisconsin he landed at 22 and the job that followed when he led LaCrosse (Wis.) Logan to a state championship, Mattison has always been content with being an assistant.

Running a program would require him to wear too many hats rather than allowing him to focus on passing his knowledge along to his players. In limited contact with players this winter, Mattison senses a desire for to improve and grasp a new four down lineman scheme designed to stop the run.

Mattison has already made one move, shifting 6-foot-5, 333-pound junior defensive lineman Will Campbell back to the defensive side of the ball after former coach Rich Rodriguez shifted him to the offensive line last season.

Mattison said Campbell suits his system well, calling the Detroit native "my kind of a guy."

With players eager to learn, Mattison's teaching role allows him to carry out a job he believes he has always been equipped to do.

"That's the thing I love about college coaching," he said. "It's the ability to be able to get a young man from point A to point wherever. That's the fun part."

Jeff Arnold covers Michigan sports for and can be reached at (734) 623-2554 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @jeffreyparnold.



Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 3:18 p.m.

Found This on the NCAA website glossary of terms on infractions page... I believe this should be imposed on that school in ohio... we should all stand up for integrity in college sports and let the NCAA know how you feel.... Committee on Infractions (COI): Each NCAA division has its own Committee on Infractions. The committees are independent groups that assess penalties against schools and individuals who break NCAA rules. The committees are composed of lawyers, law school professors from member schools and representatives of the general public. Death Penalty: The 'death penalty' is a phrase used by media to describe the most serious NCAA penalties possible. It is not a formal NCAA term. It applies only to repeat violators and can include eliminating the involved sport for at least one year, the elimination of athletics aid in that sport for two years and the school relinquishing its Association voting privileges for a four-year period. A school is a repeat violator if a second major violation occurs within five years of the start date of the penalty from the first case. The cases do not have to be in the same sport.


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 11:27 p.m.

The "death penalty" will never be levied against a major football program ever again. It took SMU more than 2 decades to recover, and I highly doubt the NCAA would do that to anybody ever again.


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 2:02 p.m.

AAAAHHHH!!! it feels good to have Michigan football back in perspective.. teaching and coaching up young talent,instead of smoke & mirrors and trickery... TiM GO BLUE..


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 11:25 p.m.

So you're saying you don't like play-action?


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 2:17 a.m.

I'd be quite satisfied with a Michigan team that played sound football with a minimum of mistakes. We might not have the top-tier talent (yet) but at least if we're playing like properly coached players a loss where the other team was simply better is understandable. What's not understandable is three years of mistake-filled football where we lost games we should have won, and we lost badly in games that should have been closer. So, to the degree Hoke, Mattison, Borges bring some adult supervision to this team ... the better. I don't miss the prior coaching regime. At all. One bit. Good. Bye.


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 12:17 p.m.

DonAZ, the past 3 yrs. are gone. I really liked what I felt Rich Rodriquez was doing and what I felt he would eventually accomplish but, it didn't happen, Rich Rodriquez is gone and a new era is here one in which I hope will produce good Michigan football. Some of you boys and girls have got to get used to the fact that Rich Rodriguez is gone as in, no mas.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 1:19 a.m.

Note to the MCC: No team has ever won a BCS championship without winning its conference. First things first. Good Night and Good Luck


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 1:53 a.m.

Ed ghost, that is a fact.


Thu, Mar 10, 2011 : 12:02 a.m.

What a breath of fresh air coach Mattison is i cant wait till the spring game.This coaching staff has me fired up about Michigans future and it looks bright.go blue


Wed, Mar 9, 2011 : 10:42 p.m.

Wouldn't it be something if Brady can run a clean program and win the National Championship, oh and for some of you old die hards the Big Ten Championship to.