One by one, top Michigan assistants are either following Jim Harbaugh to the Los Angeles Chargers, or turning their back on the family and going to the Pacific Northwest like his son Jay is doing by linking up with Mike Macdonald on the Seattle Seahawks. Losing Jesse Minter to the Bolts hurts, but it was expected. What wasn't expected was this potential candidate to replace Minter in Ann Arbor.
According to Matt Zenitz of 247Sports, the Wolverines have identified former New York Giants defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale as a serious candidate to replace Minter. Joe Cullen is mentioned for the gig as well, but the Kansas City Chiefs defensive line coach has a Super Bowl to win first. Martindale has been in the NFL for years, including on the Baltimore Ravens from 2012-21.
With Baltimore replacing Macdonald internally with Zach Orr, this move prevented Anthony Weaver from being promoted from within. He has since left for the Miami Dolphins to replace Vic Fangio. While Baltimore is a familiar place for Martindale, it would be interesting to see him go to Michigan without the Wolverines having any of The Harbaughs still around. The fit is odd, but slightly intriguing.
It has been nearly two decades since Wink Martindale last coached in college, but where was that at?
Well, as it turns out, Martindale served on Jack Harbaugh's Western Kentucky staff from 2000-03...
Michigan football rumors: Wink Martindale tied to the Wolverines' DC job
Not going to lie, a lot has changed since Martindale last coached in college. Heck, it has been 30 years since he last coached at a Power Four-level job. He was the special teams coordinator and linebackers coach on the Cincinnati Bearcats from 1996 to 1998. Do you remember who the head coach of UC was at the time? Rick Minter, a defensive assistant on Michigan and Jesse Minter's dad.
So to say the Harbaugh connection runs deep for Martindale would be putting it lightly. Is he qualified to be the Wolverines' defensive coordinator? Oh, absolutely, as he has held this position multiple times over at many levels of football. However, recruiting is the name of the game in college football today. It is getting more and more difficult with each passing season. Martindale is in his early 60s.
Overall, I think getting a defensive mind with an NFL background would play well for Michigan going forward. Even if Martindale has not coached in college in over 20 years, him telling parents of prospective recruits that he knows what it takes to get to the NFL would play over very well in their living rooms. This can help Michigan be keen on player development as it transitions into a post-Harbaugh world.
With Michigan also losing Mike Elston to the Chargers, it makes all the sense to go with an NFL guy.