Report: Wink Martindale To Become Michigan Wolverines Defensive Coordinator

    Sherrone Moore has his man to lead the Michigan defense, with reports suggesting an imminent deal to bring Wink Martindale to Ann Arbor.

    Newly minted Michigan coach Sherrone Moore has reportedly secured his next defensive coordinator, with Wink Martindale set to lead the Wolverines’ defense.

    Wink Martindale Set To Replace Jesse Minter as Michigan Defensive Coordinator

    Jim Harbaugh wasn’t the only Michigan coach to jump ship for the pros, with defensive coordinator Jesse Minter following Harbaugh to the Los Angeles Chargers to be his DC.

    Last season with Minter at DC, the Wolverines won the National Championship and boasted the top total defense (247 total yards allowed per game) and scoring defense (10.4 points allowed per game) in the nation.

    Former offensive coordinator Moore was elevated to head coach in Harbaugh’s absence but was left with vacancies on his staff to fill, including both coordinator positions.

    After internally promoting Kirk Campbell last week to be the offensive coordinator — while remaining the team’s quarterbacks coach — the Wolverines are finalizing a contract with Martindale with no obstacles preventing the deal from getting done, per a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Friday morning.

    The transition from Minter to Martindale’s defensive system should be relatively seamless. The last two Michigan defensive coordinators – Mike Macdonald (2021) and Minter (2022-2023) – reportedly used Martindale’s aggressive scheme as a template for their systems while with the Wolverines.

    It won’t be the first time Martindale has coached in the college ranks, but it is the first time in a while for the veteran NFL coordinator.

    He started his career as the defensive coordinator for DIII program, Defiance (1986-1987), before moving on to be an assistant at Notre Dame (1994-1995), the special teams and linebackers coach at Cincinnati (1996-1998) and defensive coordinator at Western Illinois (1999).

    One of his last stops at the college level was as special teams and inside linebackers coach at Western Kentucky (2000-2003) under Hilltoppers head coach Jack Harbaugh, the father of Jim Harbaugh. It’s a small world, and it’s even smaller for coaches.

    WKU won the NCAA I-AA (now FCS) National Championship in 2002 with Jack Harbaugh at the helm and Martindale on staff. The Hilltoppers went 12-3 en route to the championship, ending the season with 10 consecutive wins, with their opponents not scoring more than 30 points in each of those 10 games.

    It was Harbaugh’s final season with WKU (1989-2002), and he went on to be the Athletic Director at Marquette, posting a 91-68 record in 14 seasons as head coach for the Hilltoppers.

    Martindale was promoted to defensive coordinator for 2003 season when David Elson was promoted from DC to head coach. The Hilltoppers went 9-4 that season, losing in the quarterfinals of the Division I-AA quarterfinals.

    MORE: How Many Michigan Players Have Won the Heisman Trophy?

    He made the jump to the NFL after that and hasn’t looked back (until now).

    Martindale was the linebackers coach for the Oakland Raiders (2004-2008) his first five seasons before taking the same role with the Denver Broncos in 2009. He was promoted to defensive coordinator there the following season, but it was short-lived, with head coach Josh McDaniels fired during that season.

    After that bumpy start as DC, Martindale bounced back on another Harbaugh’s staff — John, Jack Harbaugh’s son and the older brother of Jim Harbaugh. He was on staff for Super Bowl XLVII win his first year and would remain the linebackers coach in Baltimore until 2017.

    Harbaugh promoted Martindale to DC after the 2017 season but fired him following a 2022 campaign that saw the Ravens post the 25th-ranked total defense in the NFL. He went on to man the defense for the New York Giants the last two seasons, but the two sides mutually agreed to part ways after the Giants’ defense finished 27th in total defense.

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    The performance of Martindale’s defense doesn’t appear to be the primary reason for the separation. Martindale was reportedly angry at head coach Brian Daboll over staffing issues, according to the New York Post. Daboll and the Giants expected Martindale back next season, and he was reportedly under contract for $3 million next season.

    The Giants could block Martindale from signing with another NFL team if he resigned, which might explain why Martindale decided to make the jump back to the college ranks.

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