Watch the Michigan football team practice in Atlanta ahead of Saturday’s Peach Bowl game against the Florida Gators.
Nick Baumgardner, Freep
ATLANTA — Don Brown spent some time earlier this month in Philadelphia discussing another job.
Michigan’s defensive coordinator interviewed for Temple’s vacant head coaching position, a job that ultimately went to Miami defensive coordinator Manny Diaz.
Brown, who turned 63 in July, has maintained throughout his three years at Michigan that he enjoys Ann Arbor and his role leading the defense. Still, he also said he’d be interested in running a program as a head coach again if the situation was right.
“In the right situation, if it occurred, (yes),” Brown said Thursday in Atlanta when asked if he’d like to be a head coach again. “At the same time, not on anybody else’s terms but my own. So you take that for what it’s worth.
“I’m not one of those guys who is trying to play the cookie cutter game to fit myself into what somebody (else) wants.”
Brown, who hails from Massachusetts, has spent most of his lengthy coaching career on the East Coast, mainly around New England.
Temple, which plays in the American Atheltic Conference, is located in North Philadelphia — a day trip away from New England and right in the middle of the recruiting area Brown knows best.
Make no mistake: Brown was interested.
“I talked to them. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t,” he said. “Obviously I’m familiar with the area in terms of, I can recruit up and down that Eastern seaboard from New England all the way to Florida.
“But did I lose sleep over it? No. I blinked and moved on to the next day.”
Brown has been a head coach three times before. He was 25-6 from 1993-95 at Division III Plymouth State, 27-20 from 2000-03 at FCS Northeastern and 43-19 from 2004-08 at UMass. He took UMass to the FCS title game in 2006, losing to an Appalachian State team that wound up knocking off Michigan the following fall in Ann Arbor.
Asked if he and Michigan are currently working on a new contract, Brown said, “Not that I know of.”
Brown signed a five-year deal that started Jan. 1, 2017. His annual salary is now at $1 million, though he received a $300,000 retention bonus at the start of 2018 and will receive another $300,000 if he’s at Michigan through Jan. 10, 2019.
Brown will receive a $400,000 retention bonus (pushing his salary to $1.4 million) if he’s at Michigan through Jan. 10, 2020 and another $400,000 if he’s at U-M through Jan. 10, 2021. He’s scheduled to make $1.4 million flat in 2022, with no retention bonus in his final year.
Michigan’s defense ranked No. 1 nationally under Brown in 2016 and No. 3 last season and is No. 1 in 2018.
When Brown signed the deal in late 2016, he was one of the highest-paid coordinators in America. He still is, but the market has changed.
Michigan assistant head coach Pep Hamilton, the team’s de facto offensive coordinator, will make $1.45 million with a retention bonus if he stays through Jan. 10. Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who will oppose Michigan in the Peach Bowl, was scheduled to make $1.4 million this year.
Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele ($2.05 million), Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables ($2.201 million) and LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda ($2.5 million) are all making more than $2 million.
Speaking of Hamilton, the 44-year-old quarterbacks coach interviewed for Maryland’s vacant head coaching position earlier this offseason, a job that went to Alabama offensive coordinator Mike Locksley.
Asked Thursday if he’d like to be a head coach, Hamilton kept the conversation on the Peach Bowl.
“I want to win this game against Florida on Saturday and I want us to carry that momentum into the offseason and into spring ball,” Hamilton said. “I’ve been doing this for a while. I try to stay in the moment. It’s never about me, it’s always about these players. I’ve been coaching for quite some time, but for coaches, we can just continue coaching. For (the seniors) on our football team, some of these guys are getting closer to playing their last college football game.
“So it would be unfair for me to focus on anything other than doing my job as a coach to help them to be in the best position that they can be in to go out and finish this season on a high note.”
As for Brown, when asked about his overall situation with Michigan, he made it clear that he’s not actively looking.
But if someone comes along with an intriguing offer, he’s not going to ignore it.
“I don’t go out ringing somebody’s doorbell,” Brown said. “But you never look a gift horse in the mouth if they want to talk to you.”
Contact Nick Baumgardner: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NickBaumgardner.