As I'm wont to do in such situations, I pulled Mattison's team stats, as well as those teams' performances in years just preceding and following his tenure. These tables contain Mattison's teams' national rankings as well as the corresponding YPG and PPG. Without further ado:
|Notre Dame 1999||Notre Dame 2000||Notre Dame 2001||Notre Dame 2002||Notre Dame 2003||Notre Dame 2004|
|Rushing defense||50th (142.2)||57th (147.6)||39th (132.3)||10th (95.2)||29th (127.2)||4th (88.2)|
|Passing defense||No stats available||43rd (206.18)||10th (172.64)||46th (204.77)||48th (213.00)||116th (281.25)|
|Passing eff defense||82nd||61st||38th||10th||76th||98th|
|Total defense||74th (383.7)||51st (353.82)||14th (304.91)||13th (300.00)||33rd (340.17)||54th (369.42)|
|Scoring defense||78th (27.6)||35th (20.5)||22nd (19.5)||9th (16.7)||65th (26.3)||46th (24.1)|
Mattison was already firmly entrenched at Notre Dame before 1999, the earliest year that I can find stats for. He took over the defensive coordinator position in 1997 and served until 2001. From 2002 to 2004 (in blue), Mattison served solely as the defensive line coach for the Fighting Irish.
Toward the end of Mattison's reign as the defensive coordinator, Notre Dame's defense was shaping into something fierce. If the defensive progression is uniform over his first two years (that we don't have stats for) it's safe to say that Mattison took over a fairly defunct defensive unit and took only a few years to morph it into a solid group.
The exciting data point here is the rushing defense when Mattison took over as defensive line coach. In his first year as DL coach, Notre Dame's rushing defense jumped into the top 10 nationally and had only a slight speed bump in his second year before returning to a top-five unit in 2004.
In contrast to Brady Hoke's performances, these numbers show a coach that has crafted a defense (or defensive line as it may be) into a top-notch unit. Hoke struggled for years to develop a quality defense and maintain that production, but Mattison seems able to do so in relatively little time.
From Notre Dame, Mattison went to Florida where he served alongside Charlie Strong as co-defensive coordinator.
|Florida 2004||Florida 2005||Florida 2006||Florida 2007||Florida 2008||Florida 2009|
|Rushing defense||53rd (141.9)||10th (94.9)||5th (72.5)||10th (103.3)||15th (105.43)||12th (99.79)|
|Passing defense||46th (203.67)||38th (204.92)||33rd (182.93)||98th (258.54)||20th (179.86)||2nd (152.79)|
|Passing eff defense||27th||25th||4th||71st||3rd||6th|
|Total defense||42nd (345.58)||9th (299.83)||6th (255.43)||41st (361.85)||9th (285.29)||4th (252.57)|
|Scoring defense||31st (21.1)||18th (18.8)||6th (13.5)||46th (25.5)||4th (12.93)||4th (12.43)|
Mattison served as the Florida defensive coordinator between 2005 and 2007 (in blue). All three years, Mattison was listed as co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach. Like his last gig, when he took over the defensive line, it quickly turned into a top-10 unit. Mattison took a middle-of-the-road rushing defense in 2004 and immediately turned them into a dominating group. Part of that comes on the strength of a few incredible recruiting classes (about which more later), but for the most part, Mattison turned Florida's defense into an unquestioned power.
|Baltimore 2008||Baltimore 2009||Baltimore 2010|
|Rushing defense||3rd (81.4)||5th (93.3)||5th (93.9)|
|Passing defense||2nd (179.7)||t-8th (207.3)||21st (224.9)|
|Total defense||2nd (261.1)||3rd (300.5)||10th (318.9)|
|Scoring defense||3rd (15.3)||3rd (16.3)||3rd (16.9)|
|Turnovers forced||1st in AFC (26 INTs/8 Fum)||2nd in AFC (22 INTs/10 Fum)||5th in AFC (19 INTs/8 Fum)|
The Baltimore defense's reputation precedes it, and if you didn't already know that it's one of the stingiest in the NFL, you haven't watched a single NFL game in the last 10 years. While I don't want to read too much into NFL production because it's not necessarily an indicator of college success, this is just more evidence that Mattison's defenses are routinely great.
Not all of Mattison's success can be attributed to his schemes, necessarily, especially at Florida where a number of legendary recruiting classes helped the Gators to an unbelievable run in the '00s. Mattison's haul in 2006 includes four 4-stars, a 3-star, and a little known 5-star recruit named Tim Tebow. In 2007 (the only other year that Rivals has a record of his commitments), Mattison brought in two 4-stars, a 3-star, and another 5-star.
This isn't meant to take away from Mattison's schemes, but rather highlight that he's not only a good schmatic coach, but he also appears to have some recruiting chops. And that was before he was able to tell recruits he was in charge of one of the best defenses in the NFL.
There are concerns
On paper, Mattison looks like a great hire. Unfortunately, he has one obvious flaw: He's 60 years old. This is yet another coach under Hoke's command that is nearing retirement age. It's hard not to look at the staff that Hoke is compiling and not think that it's being built only to be uniformly scrapped in three to five years.
In the immediate future, this will appease the masses, but the sustainability of these coaches is slim at best. But that's something I'll complain about when Michigan has to replace them. For now, if Mattison can repeat the performances his resume is filled with, Michigan should be in good shape in the coming years.