Al Washington: Michigan wasn't 'stepping stone' to Ohio State

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Al Washington

Columbus, Ohio – Al Washington spent one season on Jim Harbaugh’s staff at Michigan, coaching linebackers, but he returned home to Columbus and is now among Ryan Day’s assistants.

It was a double-whammy for Michigan last month losing defensive line coach Greg Mattison to arch-rival Ohio State, where he will be co-defensive coordinator, and Washington, who will coach linebackers. Washington’s father, Al Sr., was a linebacker at Ohio State, so this was a return home for Washington.

Washington and Mattison were among the new Ohio State coaches who addressed the media Wednesday during a signing day news conference.

“It was a hard decision,” Washington said of leaving Michigan. “When you're in a place, wherever you are, you try to be all in. It's not like a stepping-stone place. So not only are you involved, your family is involved. It's tough, it's really tough. But again, you think about where you are, this is home for me. This is an unbelievable situation and program. You're excited in the same breath.

“I wouldn't put it in the easy category, but fortunate. But when you respect where you come from, when you respect the situation you were in, it's always a little more difficult.”

Washington would not get into details about Harbaugh’s response to his departure.

I absolutely have a ton of respect for Coach Harbaugh,” Washington said. “He's been nothing but great for me. It was a tough decision. Throughout it all, he really respected where I was coming from. You know, that's kind of where I'll leave that.”

He returned to Columbus in part because of his family, but also because of the opportunity to work with Day.

“I've known coach Day and know the program and tradition, but mom and dad are 20 minutes away,” he said. “I've got a 3-year-old, a 1-year-old. My wife went here. A lot of who I am is from obviously the 614 and Columbus and my father playing here. I think those things definitely were major contributors to coming, that unique blend of everything.”

Previous Ohio State coaches have had a policy of not saying “Michigan.” Washington was asked if he has been given a waiver – for now.

“I've banged out about 30 push-ups, so I'm not immune to it,” Washington said, laughing. “But tons of respect -- you want to get into the details of it, but I think I got a pass.”