Football: Northwestern defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz to retire after 2020 season


Joshua Hoffman/Daily Senior Staffer

Mike Hankwitz walking on the sidelines. The defensive coordinator is retiring at the end of the season.

Drew Schott and Greg Svirnovskiy


Northwestern defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz will retire following the 2020 season.

The news was first reported by Brandon Marcello of 247 Sports.

Hankwitz is in his 13th season on coach Pat Fitzgerald’s staff and 51st year of collegiate coaching. He is seeking his 400th career win as an assistant this weekend when No. 14 Northwestern takes on No. 4 Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship game.

“That would be the ultimate, I tell ‘ya,” Hankwitz told 24/7 Sports. “I don’t know if you can top that.”

NU’s defense is the 13th-best in the country this season, allowing only 313.9 yards per game and 4.47 yards per play. Additionally, the unit only allows 14.6 points per game, good for the second-best scoring defense in the country.

Their performance has earned Hankwitz a spot as a Broyles Award semifinalist, given annually to the nation’s top assistant coach.

After playing tight end for Hall of Fame coach Bo Schembechler at Michigan, Hankwitz began his career as the junior varsity coach for the Wolverines.

He previously served as defensive coordinator at Arizona, Western Michigan, Colorado, Kansas, Texas A&M and Wisconsin before coming to Evanston in 2008.

Hankwitz served as an interim coach twice, first at Arizona, where Hankwitz went 1-6 in seven games after the firing of coach John Mackovic in 2003. He then coached Colorado in the 2005 Champs Sports Bowl after former Northwestern head coach Gary Barnett resigned. The Buffaloes fell to Clemson 19-10.

According to 24/7 Sports, Hankwitz has coached 14 first-team All-Americans — including linebacker Dat Nguyen at Texas A&M and cornerback Deon Figures at Colorado — and 47 first-team all-conference players.

Hankwitz told Fitzgerald of his plans to retire before the start of the season, bringing to an end one of the most illustrious coaching careers in college football.

“My wife and I discussed it at length,” Hankwitz told 24/7 Sports. “She thought it was going to happen two years in a row. At some point she said, ‘You’ve gotta decide.’ We talked about it and said, yeah, you know what? I’m not getting any younger.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @dschott328

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @gsvirnovskiy