Don Brown has been fired by Michigan per a report from Bruce Feldman. Since Feldman first put the news out on Twitter, it's been confirmed and people with a vested interest in the Wolverines are starting to talk.
First of all, this was warranted. Brown started out at Michigan with dominant units, but he has been trending in a bad direction pretty much since he arrived in Ann Arbor. In 2016, Brown's unit was No. 2 in the country in yards allowed per play. In 2017 he slipped to No. 6 and then dropped two more spots in 2018. Last year his defense was at No. 10 in the category and this year it fell all the way down to No. 56. In 2020, Brown's defense gave up 34.5 points per game and 429.3 yards per game. That made for one of the worst units in the Big Ten and entire country. His defense also gave up 118 points in Michigan's last two games against Ohio State. Teams had just figured him out and it was playing out that way on the field — worse each year.
Brown seemed to know that a departure was inevitable. It's being reported that Brown may have been officially fired on Friday, but it feels like he knew it was coming even before that. Some are reporting that Brown informed 2021 signees that he might not be around next year. Brown also wasn't even around Ann Arbor for much of National Signing Day last week. With decisions and commitments still to come from Ja'Den McBurrows and Jaydon Hood, who Michigan knew they were going to sign Wednesday evening, Brown had already flown back home to Massachusetts. That certainly seems to indicate that Brown knew he was done at U-M.
On the flip side, others feel led on. Per Orion Sang's discussion with recent signee Junior Colson, some recruits seem to be pretty betrayed.
"I was not pleased with the news about (Michigan) firing (Don Brown)," Colson said to Sang. "I didn't know anything about it but I already signed so there is nothing I can do."
Another person, who wishes to remain anonymous, spoke very recently with Brown and had no idea he was on his way out.
"We talked to him last week and all he said was that he thought Harbaugh would ink an extension soon. Nothing about his situation," our source said. "It was right after the Iowa game was canceled on Tuesday and then he flew home to Mass on Wednesday. That’s all we know.
"It's really tough to figure out because he kept saying that he can't wait for these new kids to play for him."
It's not surprising that it played out like this, in all ways. Brown was great early on but had been performing poorly. It was time for a chance.
Brown may not have been completely open with some recruits and may have had mixed messages for others. That happens when the coaching carousel starts to turn but what is Brown really supposed to do? Until earlier today (or maybe last Friday), Brown was still employed by Michigan, so it was his job to recruit as hard as he could. That included doing everything in his power to make sure his targets signed their letters of intent on Wednesday.
Some may see that as shady, but it's just how the game is played. It happens every year at different places. Michigan fans would bang on a Spartan or a Buckeye for doing it, but it's just the nature of the business.