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Arizona hires ‘Dr. Blitz’ Don Brown as new defensive coordinator

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arizona-wildcats-don-brown-defensive-coordinator-2021-michigan-wolverines-jedd-fisch-pac12-football Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

The biggest piece of new Arizona Wildcats coach Jedd Fisch’s staff was made official on Thursday, with the school announcing the hire of Don Brown as the new defensive coordinator.

“Today is a huge day for Arizona Football as we have the opportunity to welcome Dr. Blitz to our football program,” Fisch said in a statement. “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, 65, comes to the UA after four seasons as defensive coordinator with the Michigan Wolverines. He was also DC at Boston College from 2013-15, and the numbers in Fisch’s tweet reflect the national ranking in total defense that Brown’s units at BC and Michigan had from 2014-19.

There was a significant drop off in 2020, with the Wolverines allowing 34.5 points per game and ranking 84th nationally in total defense, though at least some of that slippage could be attributed to the departure of five players taken in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Known as an aggressive coach who likes to bring pressure—his nickname is Dr. Blitz—Brown will take over a defense that allowed 39.8 points per game last season and has yielded 40.1 during Arizona’s program-record 12-game losing streak. The Wildcats tallied only two sacks in five games in 2020, compared to the nine Brown’s Michigan squad had in six games last season.

A two-time finalist for the Broyles Award, given to college football’s top assistant, Brown also coached the linebackers at Michigan.

This will be Brown’s first job outside of the Eastern Time Zone, and prior to Michigan he’d coached exclusively in the Northeast. That includes head coaching stints at Northeastern (2000-03) and Massachusetts (2004-08) and as defensive coordinator at Maryland (2009-10) and Connecticut (2011-12).

“I am honored to be a part of Coach Fisch’s staff at the University of Arizona,” Brown said in a statement. “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.”

Along with the hiring Wednesday of cornerbacks coach DeWayne Walker, Arizona’s staff is near complete, only missing a special teams coordinator:

  • Head coach: Jedd Fisch
  • Offensive coordinator/Offensive line: Brennan Carroll
  • Quarterbacks: Jimmie Dougherty
  • Running backs: Scottie Graham
  • Wide receivers: Kevin Cummings
  • Tight ends: Jordan Paopao
  • Defensive coordinator/Linebackers: Don Brown
  • Defensive line: Ricky Hunley
  • Cornerbacks: DeWayne Walker
  • Safeties: Chuck Cecil