|Everything Mattison touches, turns to gold.|
January 18 2011, Ann Arbor.
On this day in history, little did Michigan fans know that this was the day the future of the football program was changed forever. The Baltimore Ravens announced that defensive coordinator Greg Mattison accepted the job at the University of Michigan to become their next defensive coordinator, reuniting him with Brady Hoke.
The defense in 2011 made great strides, paving the way to a BCS victory and 11-2 season. On top of that, the losing streak to arch nemesis Ohio State was finally snapped.
Everything Mattison touches, turns to gold.
The legacy of Mattison started in 1976, after receiving his first big break at Illinois as a graduate assistant. The next year he accepted the defensive line coach position with Cornell. For the next thirty years, Mattison spent most of his college football coaching days as a defensive line coach with stops at schools such as Northwestern, Western Michigan, Navy, Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Michigan — Twice. As a defensive line coach and defensive coordinator — and Florida. During his time at Florida, he was also a co-defensive coordinator.
Not only was Mattison an excellent coach, he is also an extremely likeable guy. This likeability helps him connect with potential recruits, they can’t help but bond with him, which helped him gain the reputation of being an excellent recruiter.
In two specific stops during his coaching career, Mattison helped to set the table for championship seasons. Even though Mattison left Michigan after the 1996 season, he was unable to experience what he helped set up in 1997.
He would make up for that during his time in Florida.
Florida won the national championship in 2007 with quarterback Chris Leak. But, just over the horizon, Florida fans were getting excited about the quarterback of the future. One man was cited by Urban Meyer as the game changer for getting Tim Tebow to commit to Florida. That man? Greg Mattison. Listed as his primary recruiter, Mattison was responsible for landing one of the best players the Florida football program has ever seen. Again, not being able to see the full effect of his recruiting efforts, Florida would go on to win the national championship again in the 2008-2009 season.
During the college ranks, Mattison won. During his time at Michigan, the Wolverines lead the conference in rushing defense for four consecutive years averaging as little as 78.6 yards per game during the 1992 season. When he was at Florida, he helped coach them to a 31-8 record with a national championship. Even when he was at Texas A&M, he helped coach the famous “Wrecking Crew” defense. A nickname that was given to the Aggies defense that was one of the best in the country.
When the NFL came calling, Mattison listened. He listened mostly because of a familiar name to not only Mattison, but Michigan fans as well. John Harbaugh hired Mattison as the teams linebacker coach. The Harbaugh’s and Mattison’s go way to the days of Western Michigan. As the two coached alongside each other — with John being a graduate assistant — for a few years and developed a lifelong bond. Strangely enough, this bond intertwined with current Michigan head coach Brady Hoke as well. The Ravens was Mattison’s first NFL coaching job in 37 seasons of his career.
After Rex Ryan left Baltimore to become the head coach of the New York Jets, Mattison was named the defensive coordinator. Coaching names such as Suggs, Lewis, and Reed would provide valuable experience and would also look great to high school kids if Mattison were to ever go back to the college ranks.
So, here we are in 2013. Many of the major targets and best high school players in the country are interested in Michigan. Something that wouldn’t happen a few years prior. Many of the kids who play on the defensive side of the ball state that their desire to play for Michigan was aided by the likeability of Mattison.
Whether Michigan fans want to believe it or not, Hoke and Mattison saved Michigan. More specifically, Mattison saved the Michigan defense. He inherited a broken product and turned it into a fine-tuned machine. He revived a dormant program and awakened a sleeping giant. Just a few more years and we might see what the hype has been about, that “this is Michigan”.
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. Everything Greg Mattison touches turns to gold.
Greg Mattison, born winner.