Jim Harbaugh on departed Greg Mattison: We won't be exchanging Christmas cards

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Jim Harbaugh and Greg Mattison

Ann Arbor – That 69-year-old defensive line coach Greg Mattison left Michigan in January was one thing, but the fact he left for arch-rival Ohio State to become a co-defensive coordinator on new coach Ryan Day’s staff completely blindsided the Wolverines.

Mattison will be the Buckeyes’ highest-paid assistant this year, making $1.1 million, as part of a two-year contract. He made $525,000 each of the last two seasons at Michigan. Former Michigan linebackers coach Al Washington, who grew up in Columbus and whose father played for the Buckeyes, also joined the OSU staff in the offseason.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday, during his first meeting with media in three months, that eventually he and Mattison will be “friends again.”

“I wouldn’t say shocked, I was surprised, yeah,” Harbaugh said of Mattison’s departure. “Coaching-wise he wanted to be a coordinator again. Darn near doubled his salary. I don’t hold that against him.

“We’re not going to be sending each other Christmas cards based on where he went. That’s how I feel and understand it. Still a good man. Still have a ton of respect for him, and we’ll be friends again someday when we’re done coaching.”

Mattison has twice left Michigan’s staff. He departed for Notre Dame after the 1996 season.

He told reporters during a signing day news conference last month that leaving Michigan was a “very tough decision.”

“I spent 13 years there,” Mattison said at the time, regarding Michigan. “But I also spent 19 out of the last 24 years coordinating. To have the opportunity to be a co-coordinator again at a great university like Ohio State was something, an opportunity that I really wanted to pursue.”

Mattison had been defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens before returning to Michigan as defensive coordinator when Brady Hoke became head coach. When Harbaugh took over before the 2015 season, Mattison was moved to coaching the defensive line.