Arizona coach Jedd Fisch has hired ex-Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown to take over the same role with the Wildcats, the school announced on Thursday. Brown had spent the previous five years on Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Michigan prior to being let go after the 2020 season.
Fisch and Brown were on the same Michigan staff in 2016 when Fisch was the passing game coordinator, quarterbacks and wide receivers coach.
“I am honored to be a part of coach Fisch’s staff at the University of Arizona,” Brown said. “I promise to work tirelessly to make our defense into something that our players, alumni and fans can be proud of. My focus will also be to develop our student-athletes so they can play at an elite level and achieve success, which requires dedication, a tremendous work ethic and building great relationships. I can’t wait to get to Tucson and be a part of the program coach Fisch is building.”
Brown had plenty of success early at Michigan and throughout his career, which is likely why Fisch was willing to ignore the output in 2020. The Wolverines finished in the top three nationally in total defense from 2016-18 and fourth in the Big Ten in 2019. Brown’s defense regressed a bit in 2020 when it allowed 429.3 yards per game (11th in the Big Ten) and 5.53 yards per play (10th in the Big Ten).
“Today is a huge day for Arizona Football as we have the opportunity to welcome ‘Dr. Blitz’ to our football program,” Fisch said. “Don Brown has coordinated the most elite defenses in all of college football, year in and year out, and today Wildcat Nation, we get to introduce him to you as our new defensive coordinator. I have known Don since 2016 when we worked together but have respected and admired him as a coach for many years prior. He is incredibly passionate and a phenomenal teacher. He brings an energy and enthusiasm to play an attacking style of defense, one in which all former and current players, football alumni and our fan base will be proud of and genuinely excited to watch on Saturdays in the Fall. The Wildcat Football Family is so excited to welcome Don and Deb Brown to Tucson. Bear Down and Go Cats!”
Brown will head to Tucson, Arizona, with plenty of experience around the country. In addition to his time in Ann Arbor, Michigan, he has spent time on staffs at Boston College (2013-15), UConn (2011-12) and Maryland (2009-10). He was the coach at UMass from 2004-08 and Northeastern from 2000-03.
He will be charged with helping fix a defense that struggled mightily under former coach Kevin Sumlin. The Wildcats finished last in the Pac-12 in defensive yards per play (6.74), total defense (473 yards per game) and scoring defense (39.8 points per game).
Fisch announced Wednesday that veteran DeWayne Walker has been hired as the program’s defensive backs coach.