Michigan is replacing its NFL-bound defensive coordinator with an NFL assistant.
According to ESPN, the Wolverines are set to hire longtime NFL defensive coordinator Wink Martindale as their new defensive coordinator. Martindale replaces Jesse Minter at Michigan after Minter left to take the defensive coordinator position with the Los Angeles Chargers under former Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh.
Martindale’s hire is a significant move for new head coach Sherrone Moore as he looks to capitalize on Michigan’s national title-winning season. Martindale most recently served as the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants before he parted ways with the team after the 2023 season.
That parting was reportedly a bit acrimonious. Martindale was reportedly unhappy with Giants head coach Brian Daboll after multiple defensive assistants were fired at the conclusion of the season. After Daboll publicly said that he expected Martindale to return to the team, Martindale reportedly went silent and the Giants announced days later that the team had “mutually” parted ways with Martindale.
Before coaching for two seasons with the Giants, Martindale was with the Baltimore Ravens for 10 seasons. He spent six seasons as the team’s linebackers coach before spending four seasons as the defensive coordinator.
Martindale, 60, now returns to the college ranks for the first time in over 20 years. After two years as an assistant at Notre Dame, Martindale coached at Cincinnati, Western Illinois and Western Kentucky before moving to the NFL and coaching linebackers for the Oakland Raiders in 2004.
The Wolverines had one of the best defenses in college football in 2023 on the way to a 15-0 season and a national title. Michigan gave up the fewest points per game (10.4) of any team in college football and held previously undefeated Washington to 13 in its 34-13 national title game win. Only three teams — Maryland, Ohio State and Alabama — scored at least 20 points against Michigan in 2023 and no one scored more than 24.
Michigan loses players like LB Junior Colson and DB Mike Sainristil ahead of the 2024 season, but Josiah Stewart (5.5 sacks) returns along with Rod Moore and Ernest Hausmann. There should be plenty of talent on that side of the ball for Martindale to work with as Michigan aims for a fourth consecutive playoff appearance and a fourth straight win over Ohio State.