Greg Byrne's Wildcat Wednesday

Mike Hankwitz
Mike Hankwitz

Interim Head Coach

1st Year at Arizona

34th Year

Mike Hankwitz
Defensive Coordinator, Outside Linebackers Coach

[Mike Hankwitz was appointed interim head coach of the Wildcats on SUnday, Sept. 28, when John Mackovic was dismissed in the third year of a five-year contract.]

Arizona's coaching staff took a big step forward shortly before the projected start of spring practice when John Mackovic hired former colleague Mike Hankwitz to become UA's defensive coordinator.

The March hire caused a short delay in the start of spring ball as the staff put together a new scheme, bringing the 3-4 defense into play and shelving the double-eagle flex the Cats had used since 1992.

Hankwitz, defensive coordinator at Texas A&M for the past six years and a 33-yaer veteran of the profession, seems a perfect fit. He's been coordinator for two decades at five institutions and has worked on staffs with Mackovic at both Arizona and Purdue. Moreover, the Wildcat defense was due for some help and spring practice showed the switch should pay dividends.

Prior to his six years in College Station, Hankwitz was coordinator and inside linebackers coach at Kansas from 1995-96, and served as coordinator at Colorado from 1988 to 1994 while coaching outside linebackers, defensive backs, special teams and the punt team. At Arizona he'll work with outside linebackers.

He also served as defensive coordinator for three years at Western Michigan from 1982-84, working directly with the secondary and punt team. he was hired to be Minnesota's defensive coordinator in January 1997 before joining R.C. Slocum's staff at A&M a month later.

Hankwitz coaches defensive ends for one season and defensive backs for three years at Arizona while Mackovic was offensive coordinator under Jim Young from 1973-76, and was defensive coordinator his final season. Both Hankwitz and Mackovic joined Young’s staff at Purdue the following year, where Hankwitz stayed for five seasons from 1977-81 as outside linebackers and punters coach.

As architect of A&M’s “wrecking crew,” Hankwitz led the Aggies to Top 10 ratings in total defense, passing or scoring defense in 1998, 2000 and 2001. He coached Lombardi Award and Bednarik Award winner Dat Nguyen at A&M in 1998, and coached three major national award winners at Colorado – Jim Thorpe Award winners Deon Figures (1992) and Chris Hudson (1994), and Butkus Award winner Alfred Williams (1990).

He has coached nearly 20 players who later became National Football League professionals, including five punters.

A noted special teams coach, seven of his punt teams ranked in the nation’s Top 10 during his 10 years at Colorado. The Buffaloes had the sixth-best record in the nation from 1988-94.

The 1982 Western Michigan team ranked No. 1 nationally in scoring defense under his direction, allowing just 78 points in 11 games.

Overall, as a defensive coordinator the programs he’s worked with have posted a record of 147-63-6 during his tenure.

He began his coaching career at a graduate assistant in 1970 at Michigan, his alma mater, and served as junior varsity defensive coordinator in 1971-72 before joining Young’s staff at Arizona.

A three-year letterman at Michigan as a linebacker and tight end, Hankwitz earned his bachelor’s degree in education there in 1970. He played on the 1969 squad coached by Bo Schembechler that won the Big 10 title and played in the Rose Bowl.

A native of Ludington, Mich., he was a 13-letter prep star in football and basketball at Mason County High School in Scottville, earning All-State honors in each sport.

He has more bowl experience than any other UA coach, with the Rose Bowl appearance as a player and 18 other bowl teams as a coach, including the 1990 Colorado national championship club.

Hankwitz and his wife, the former Cathy Leeds, have one son, Jacob, 9.

The Hankwitz File

Full Name:George Michael Hankwitz
Hometown:Ludington, Mich.
High School:Mason County High, Scottville, Mich.
College:University of Michigan, 1970
Recruiting Areas:San Antonio, Central Texas, Suburban Houston, Southern Arizona
Bowl Experience:1969 Rose (player), 1972 Rose, 1978 Peach, 1979 Bluebonnet, 1980 Liuberty, 1985 Freeddom, 1986 Bluebonnet, 1988 Freedom, 1990 Orange, 1991 Orange, 1991 Blockbuster, 1993 Fiesta, 1993 Aloha, 1995 Fiesta, 1998 Cotton, 1999 Sugar, 1999 Alamo, 2000 Independence, 2001 GalleryFurniture.