If you can manage, try to remember all the way back to the bygone days of Urban Meyer’s tenure at Ohio State. Now that you’re back in the ancient days of 2018, try to member a gainfully employed Buckeye assistant, in Buckeye colors, earnestly singing the praises of Jim Harbaugh.
Such is the case for Ohio State football in 2019.
It’s Ryan Day’s program now and, in the process of building his first Buckeye staff, Day was in the hunt for a veteran assistant who knew him and knew the Big Ten. He had one name in mind, and placed a call to that coach’s boss.
In this case, the assistant in this case was Greg Mattison, and the boss was Jim Harbaugh.
“Like any time when you’re hiring somebody, you want to call their boss and talk to them and, obviously, get their permission before you address them,” Day told the Toledo Blade. “So I went ahead and did that. Didn’t really know Coach up until that conversation with him.”
Day ended up hiring two assistants from Harbaugh’s staff. One — Al Washington — makes more sense in scarlet and gray than maize and blue. The son of a former Buckeye in Al Washington, Sr., spent but a year at Michigan and grew up in Columbus.
But Mattison? He’s about as Michigan Man as an assistant coach can get. He spent 13 years at Michigan under four different head coaches. But greater than his loyalty to Michigan was Mattison’s loyalty to his own career, and Day offered him something Harbaugh couldn’t — a chance to help coordinate a defense.
“I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work at two of the greatest programs in the country,” said Mattison, who was Michigan’s defensive line coach the previous four years. “Leaving Michigan was a very tough decision. I spent 13 years there. But I also have spent 19 out of the last 24 years coordinating, and to have the opportunity to have a co-coordinator at a great university like Ohio State was an opportunity that I really wanted to pursue. That was the biggest thing.”