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UMass hires Arizona defensive coordinator Don Brown as head coach

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Dr. Blitz is headed back east, which means Arizona will once again be looking for a defensive coordinator.

Don Brown, who in less than one season with the UA had revamped its defense into a respectable unit, has been hired as head coach at UMass, the school announced Monday. It will be his second stint as the Minutemen’s head coach, following a run from 2004-08 when he went 43-19.

Brown, 66, returns to his Northeast roots after spending the past six years at Michigan (2016-20) and Arizona. He has also been a head coach at Northeastern and Division II Plymouth (N.H.) State.

“I am honored to return to Amherst and lead the football program at the University of Massachusetts again,” Brown said in a statement. “I promise to work tirelessly to make this program 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 building great relationships and having a tremendous work ethic. I can’t wait to get back to the Commonwealth and get back to work.”

UMass, which is 1-10 this season, is an independent. Its previous coach, Walt Bell, was fired in early November after going 2-23 in three seasons.

Brown, who is expected to coach Arizona’s defense in Saturday’s regular season finale at ASU, had made huge strides with that unit. The UA ranks 61st nationally in total defense, allowing 374.7 yards per game. That’s its best ranking since 2010. The Wildcats have only ranked in the top 10 three times since then, most recently in 2018 when they were 92nd; they were 116th in 2020 and 120th in 2019.

Arizona will now be looking not just for a defensive coordinator but likely also a linebackers coach, as Keith Dudzinski is expected to follow Brown to UMass.