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BREAKING: Northwestern reportedly set to elevate linebackers coach Tim McGarigle to defensive coordinator

An expected decision appears to be in motion.

Big Ten Network / YouTube

David Braun appears to have filled his first open coordinator spot.

On Sunday afternoon, ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported that Braun is likely to tab linebackers coach Tim McGarigle as Northwestern’s next defensive coordinator. During the final minutes of the Las Vegas Bowl on Dec. 23, ESPN broadcaster Sean McDonough also indicated that Braun told him the same news.

Given McDonough’s on-air hints two weeks ago, the news isn’t surprising. McGarigle, a two-time former All-Big Ten honoree for the Wildcats in 2004 and 2005, will likely earn his first coordinator job after serving as NU’s linebackers coach for six seasons.

Led by Xander Mueller and Bryce Gallagher, his position group enjoyed a stellar 2023 season. McGarigle will take over a Northwestern defense that finished 35th in opponent-adjusted defensive Fremeau Efficiency Index (DFEI) this year. Although it will lose Gallagher and defensive back Rod Heard II, the unit will have Mueller back, while a few of its other key pieces’ futures are yet to be determined.

Prior to his return to Evanston in 2018, McGarigle accumulated Power Five and NFL coaching experience. He served as the defensive quality control coach for the Green Bay Packers in 2017, and was a linebackers coach at Illinois the year before that. In addition to experience at Western Michigan, he also kicked his coaching career off as a graduate assistant at Northwestern in 2011 after a few years as a professional football player. A seventh-round draft pick in 2006, McGarigle was a member of the St. Louis Rams for two seasons before spending 2009 and 2010 with the USFL’s Florida Huskers.

With McGarigle’s promotion, Braun now has two coordinator positions open on his staff at offensive coordinator and special teams following the reported firings of Mike Bajakian and Jeff Genyk on Dec. 28.